Yes, the show’s an iconic television show. It also (arguably) helped pave the way for women actually talking about their sex lives on television. But here’s why I think this show may not be the best shows for learning how to have a good love life.
Trust me, I love watching Sex and the City. I think the writing is absolutely brilliant, and has deserved every one of its seven Emmy awards. But I think it sends a lot of bad and unrealistic messages about love. I know they’re supposedly some of the coolest women on television ever, but they’re definitely not perfect in terms of love lives. Maybe it’s time to stop seeing this show as the ultimate authority on how relationships “should” be.
Just to prove my point, here’s what I feel the main women of SATC are really like. They’re not perfect role models, and we should be careful not to repeat their mistakes. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead!
I identify so much with Miranda, just because she deals with a lot of work-life balance that isn’t really addressed with the other characters. She was the first to become a mother, the first to get her own apartment, and has some of the best quips of the entire show. In a show about relationships, she was the one who was the most cynical about the whole system of dating. It was great!
But one issue kept coming up this strong lady: She was always hesitant to try anything new in her love life. Most of the men she dated throughout the series were high-powered career types just like her. And even within that set, there was some inflexibility: She couldn’t date a guy that was too sweet, a guy with sexual kinks, and even a guy who simply wanted to try new things in bed. It was always about finding someone who fit her idea of what was right, who could be on her schedule.
Needless to say, this isn’t the best attitude to have with love (and life). Not trying anything new can narrow your own experiences, and can limit your own growth as a potential romantic partner. Sure enough, once Miranda opened up to people outside her “type,” her character became a lot more well-rounded. Not to mention happier! Her final boyfriend in the city, Steve Brady (a bartender), was so different than Miranda (a lawyer) that it causes friction in their relationship for a long time. But eventually…
Charlotte’s definitely one of the most likable people on SATC, and why not? She’s friendly, acts classy, and is definitely one of the most love-optimistic characters on the show. She openly cares about her friends, throwing them baby showers and always trying her best to be a good friend. Frickin’ adorable!
But Charlotte’s trademark was her optimism about eventually finding the man of her dreams. In fact, one of her biggest flaws was her desire to have a man who was absolutely perfect. She’s definitely the kind of girl who would have made a list of everything she ever wanted in a man, then looked for partners with those qualities once she was old enough to date. But once she thought she found the perfect man, well…
I was glad to see Trey and Charlotte broke up. It gave Charlotte a chance to explore new possibilities — like Harry! He was everything Charlotte did not anticipate wanting in a man, and at first it was very hard for her to accept. But when they broke up after she was mean to him about his imperfections, things finally clicked. Charlotte learned that not everything could go her way all the time, and that you have to work with who people already are. But this was only after a long struggle. She tried to mold Trey into The Perfect Husband, and ending up ignoring big issues that later led to their breakup. When the same thing happened with Harry, she finally got it.
The character of Samantha is probably the driver of most of the comedy in SATC. She was one of the brashest characters on the show, the least afraid to talk about sex and definitely the least afraid to experiment sexually. She was the “free spirit,” the one who compelled the other women to go outside their comfort zones. Not to mention be totally honest about how they felt about their partners…
But have you noticed that through it all, Samantha barely sees anyone she actually likes? Like Charlotte, she is a contortion of what real women are really like. But instead of being incredibly idealistic about love, Samantha is (for the most part) reluctant to share any part of her heart with her sex partners. Most women aren’t like this — they fall somewhere in the middle between the two extremes. No doubt there are real women out there who see sex and relationships how Samantha does. I tip my hat to them and wish them all the happiness and fulfillment, because I sure as heck am not like that. My issue with Samantha is that the show usually doesn’t reveal the downside of being closed off emotionally to partners over and over. It’s not something everyone can do!
Finally, Miss Carrie Bradshaw. The icon, the main event. The one with the delightful speaking voice narrating every show…
But there’s a big glaring fact about Carrie that a lot of people seem to forget: She picks men that treat her badly, and pushes away guys that treat her well. It’s something everyone does at some point, unless you’re one of those rare people who who found the right person right away. Carrie does this over and over, the main example being Mr. Big.
If you know anything about SATC, you’ve probably heard about Mr. Big. Handsome, suave, rich… and totally emotionally unavailable. He would draw Carrie in, win her heart, and then push her away if it got too close for comfort. He was like a drug to Carrie, who actually broke off a relationship with a kind and emotionally supportive man to be with Big. And that didn’t even last! Big just never fully let Carrie in, not even with the big details of his life. Never a good sign!
I could go on and on about how this relationship was screwed up from the beginning, but I really don’t want to. Carrie’s relationship with Big was one of the main plots of the television show and movies, and there’s no denying it made for good entertainment. I think a lot of women identified with her reactions to Big’s undeniably jerky behavior, and that’s partially what made her so endearing to the audience. But it was not a good relationship, and it certainly caused Carrie a lot of pain. Perhaps the worst part was that she chose Big all those times they broke up and got back together, never truly learning from her mistakes. Not the best role model for people learning about love, I think.
SATC will always be a good show in my eyes. It was well written, well costumed, and the actors cast were very talented. It changed the way a lot of people viewed sex, relationships, and modern women in general. But I hope viewers, especially younger women seeing it for the first time, take Carrie’s and every other character’s relationships on the show with a grain of salt. I think the characters in this show are more like case studies than actual examples of what love is really like. While that makes for great entertainment, it also means we need to be smart consumers. We can still learn about love from SATC — thought it’s more along the lines of what not to do.
Do you like “Sex and the City”? What, if anything, have you learned about love through watching it?