Okay, I’ll admit it. I love “Sex and the City” (1998–2004).
Although “Sex and the City” was at one point immensely popular, garnering a viewership of 10.6 million people, mentioning that you chuckled at Samantha’s mishap with her attempt at at-home-hair-bleaching now brands you as a simpleton and threatens your seat at the feminist table.
A show that once brought women together, with women from Oklahoma to San Francisco finding comfort in the ups and downs of the famous foursome’s lives, now divides us. We fall into two camps: those of us who denounce the show and those of us who indulge in it guiltily between viewings of films deemed more publicly acceptable.
The change in attitude towards the show and our previously beloved leading ladies is due to the current conversation surrounding diversity in television and film and the representation of women on screen.
Before I go any further with this, I would like to clarify that I am thrilled this discussion is being had, as a woman who is not only interested in making film and television, but also as an avid consumer. I am excited that we are trying our hardest to thoughtfully represent women, allowing us to be able to find characters that we relate to. But I don’t understand why “Sex and The City” should be excluded from this narrative given that it featured exclusively female leads and has amassed six seasons, two movies and a spin-off prequel show.
The complaint I hear most often about the show is about the female characters. Some say that they aren’t good role models. People complain that at times they are vapid, too self-focused, that they don’t always do the right thing. And to that I say, “Exactly!”
Throughout the show, Miranda is too harsh with Carrie, Carrie tries to push her beliefs onto Charlotte, Charlotte can be judgmental of Samantha’s choices and Samantha is pretty preoccupied with her sexual exploits. While women being open about their sexuality is not a lauded phenomenon even today, the women were highly flawed. The women of “Sex and the City” were often selfish or rash, and they didn’t always know the right thing to do to help a friend. Although sometimes the hardest decision they had to make was which shoes to wear to the event where they were going, sometimes the decision between blue heels or red flats can be the day’s biggest hurdle. Although they lived a very specific, privileged and exaggerated lifestyle, the women of “Sex and the City” were flawed because they were real, and for that I appreciate them.
Showing women wholly on screen means not only showing all the great things women are capable of, but also showing them when they make mistakes, when they do the wrong things and when they are not sure what to do. You may not find comfort in the on-screen mishaps and escapades of New York’s most infamous fictional women, but this Miranda is happy to say she does.