“Maybe our girlfriends are our soul-mates and guys are just people to have fun with.” What made Sex and the City worm its way into so many women’s hearts, I think, is the way that it foregrounds female friendship. That sounds counter-intuitive, given that it is meant to be about the hunt for a good man, but this show is intensely idealistic about the way that women can get unconditional love from one another. Until I took to watching the series, I was convinced that two girls can never be each others’ good friends; especially then, when both or either of them happens to be extra-ordinarily good-looking and/or smart. The series is much beyond what its title merely suggests. Of course sex accounted for a major part in the series, but that was not all. Carrie’s single girlfriends are her salvation.
Thus, nowhere does it Carrie on-screen presence appear to be overpowering the other characters in the series. I like how every time she is in trouble, she speed-dials her girlfriends and never her boyfriend. The girls’ adrenaline rush has never shown to exceed the trajectory of their undying bonds amongst themselves. And when it comes to discussing sex, the girls are snug. From orgasms to positions to sex toys, the girls boisterously voice their outlook. The series has attempted to transcend the conventions of a female mindset making sure there’s no room left for judgments; which in any case was a challenge. However, SATC was never boxed up into categories of sanity, or was never ‘chastised’. The series was a huge success in NYC not only amongst middle-aged women and girl but also among older women. Moreover, the column sex and the city, which prompted the makers of the series to produce what they did, was quite popular too. Surprisingly, the series or the column was never at the receiving end of judgements. The whole idea of SATC came by as a much-needed revolution in the sexual programming of women.
The characters in the series are convincing. Carrie, the protagonist, is super-flawed. The series is anything but a conventional mode of addressing something unaddressed. And Carrie’s being imperfect explains that. The high-fashioned, cheeky young lady prefers to have the ball always in her court. There are instances where she has pleased herself not caring enough about her “sources of salvation.” Carrie’s relationship is like her hair – Big and wild. The blunders she makes are as petty as her petite figure, which in turn result in discrepancies as sharp as her facial features. Although Carrie cannot be suspected to be a fair-weathered friend, she prioritizes other things over her girlfriends, unlike them. Carrie is too deficient to indulge into a clean-slate, just-the-right-thing relationship. She distances herself from Aiden Shaw on similar grounds that he and the relationship happen to be too “perfect” for her. Immediately after, she rekindles her past love: Mr. Big but soon realizes that she cannot expect anything big or Mr. Big from the relationship.
That is when Carrie undergoes a feeling of distress and goes onto finding a (temporary) mate. She falls for a French artist, Alexander Petrovsky, twice her age and thrice as mature as her. The relationship does fairly well, but not for too long. Carrie contemplates: “A relationship is like couture. If it doesn’t fit you, it’s a disaster.” Against her wish and will, she is compelled to go to Paris because her current love demands so. For her, the joy of visiting Paris does not take over the torment of leaving New York, be it for time-being. She misses her girlfriends, New York and Mr. Big terribly. Eventually, Mr. Big confesses that “Carrie is the one” and with no second thought, Carrie reciprocates. The ending is, if nothing else, banal. For the narcissistic, self-consumed and regal person that Carrie is, the fact that she ends up with somebody who does not value her virtues adequately, is much to the viewers’ dismay. Carrie is shown acting pricey at all times. Be it her shoe-fetish, her big closet and the New-Yorker tag. She sure gets her hands on the two Ls: love and labels after being a New-Yorker.
Samantha Jones’ and Miranda Hobbes’ characters are as well-built and discreet. Samantha shreds off all the “woman-ness” in her to wear a male avatar. This to say that she has that thing which all men have constantly on their minds: sex. If I have to pick one of the four girls who does the most justice to the series’ title then it would probably be Samantha. She is highly sexed-up on bed and in her head. Love or commitment is the last thing she would think of and she abstains from calling any of her sexual partners her boyfriends. Samantha is sure about what she wants to do or what she wants from life. Things are either black or white for her, unlike Carrie for whom they are grey. This raunchy yet level-headed PR consultant comes both as a shock and a pleasant surprise. Miranda Hobbes is more or less like Samantha (minus the sexed-up part). She is headstrong, and has her boundaries set. She prioritizes work and sex is one of the many parts of her life. The red-haired slender woman is a lawyer in her real life and her reel life (as shown in the series). Miranda’s dating and marrying Steve is quite justified. One thing that is the most similar between the two is emotional detachment. Miranda starts work the very next day her mother dies. Samantha falls for a man who is found cheating on her and she never cares to conspire, instead chooses to walk off.
If there is somebody who doesn’t “fit” into the category of SATC girls then that’s undoubtedly Charlotte York. She is the perfect-date and perfect-marriage kinds. Casual sex is so not her because she tends to link emotions with every passing affair. Charlotte and Samantha are polar opposites of each other.
The city is central to the theme of the series. In fact, New York is deemed to be the fifth girl. Candace Bushnell, director of “Sex and the City”, uses a range of cinematic devices including camera shots, pace, editing and some images and stereotypes to show Carrie as a metaphor for New York. The characters are portraying the suburban reality and the stereotypical romance as two very different sides of New York. The fact that the directors show these sides of New York in a different order suggests that they are giving hindmost impressions last. “Sex and the City” concludes in reality with Carrie being splashed but everybody carries on regularly with their busy everyday lives. While watching the series, one cannot help but get carried away by Carrie’s cool job, her style statement and an enviable set of girlfriends. However, a detail understanding of her life would make one realize how it is not a great idea to step into her shoes.
The series has plenty to address, it is up to the viewers what they make of it. The series is a recipe with ingredients like anger, fun, despair, jealousy and tremor. It is not only in our minds that the succession of scenes lingers but also in our hearts where it dwells. The series will get you glued to your seats once you start watching it; I swear by Vogue, GQ AND SATC. 😉