Saturday, December 01, 2007

Has Sex and the City Ruined Us as Feminists?

With the movie in production in New York in full swing, I thought, what better time for a post on my beloved show, Sex and the City.

Full disclosure: I have to admit, out of everything I write about on this blog, I think I may be (guilty look of shame) the most qualified to write about Sex and the City. My ex-boyfriend gave me the entire series for our two-year anniversary, and, fittingly, it has served as my back-up friend during very difficult break-ups. Very full disclosure: I have probably seen every single episode at least six times.

I probably just lost half of my readership, which leaves me down to two people. Hi guys!

So, then, what is it about Sex and the City that pisses-off feminists, annoys men, and seduces (less politically aware) women all at the same time?

First of all, the show is funny. Whether you like it or not, admit it. The show is funny. Especially the third, fourth, and fifth seasons. Miranda has some one-liners that could give any professional sketch comedy group a run for their money.

Secondly, I think the show does make a good point—that occasionally, women (feminists or not) spend too much time worrying about men, and should instead treasure their friendships. (On the other hand: how many women are even lucky enough to have three best female friends that are over the age of twenty-one?)

Thirdly, on a more superficial note, the series has given women tidy little labels to describe their relationships. “He’s a Big,” or “He’s such an Aidan,” is commonly heard amongst those in the Sex and the City tribe. I found myself describing my recent break-up to a stranger by saying, “Have you seen Sex and the City? He was basically a Berger. I think. Without the post-it.”

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty. SATC is one of the most unrealistic, full of shit television shows ever created. It is supposedly a show about four women but it was written by a room full of gay men. (Don't misunderstand me here. You know I love my gay men. I just wouldn't peg them to know what it is to be a single woman in New York). The magical realism really gets out of control when Carrie somehow lives in a rent-controlled apartment on 77th street for $750 a month (not possible), writes a column for “The New York Star” (insert “Post” here), probably makes $2 a word, and yet somehow still affords hundreds of pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes which go for somewhere around $468 a pop. Obviously we’re not talking about real New York here, people. You want reality? Watch The Wire .

SATC, though, I fear, plays on my worst fears. Yes, there is an episode about becoming an Old-Maid, and when people (usually women) say “you’re such a Miranda!” I think, yes, I am a Miranda. I am the smart, funny, unattractive one. People usually respond to this line of thinking with “Oh, you just have to find your Steve!” I am not reassured by such overtures.

I think, perhaps, the love/hate relationship I have with SATC is what keeps me coming back for more. The series is like a boyfriend. When you’re down, it can help you feel better. When you’re not down, you find yourself wondering, WHY DO I PUT UP WITH THIS?

What annoys me most about SATC is that all four women recover all too quickly from their respective break-ups, and also manage to rebound with far better partners, usually have great sex (or weirdly horrible sex) and all at the same time look and live fabulous in one of the toughest cities in the world. Does Carrie ever have anxiety attacks about the fact that she’ll trip on her Manolo and there won’t be anyone there to help her up? The closest we ever came to that was when Miranda had a panic attack on the street and almost got run over by a taxi because her next door neighbor died alone in her apartment and her cat ate half of her face.

Okay, Okay. So why do I watch SATC?

Sometimes it's nice to come home to a television show that is pure fantasy. Especially when you've been busting your ass at work all day, falling in subway grates because you're wearing really impractical (but fabulous shoes), meeting a beautiful boy who tells you he thinks you're the best only to break up with you a month later, and starving because you literally have two dollars in your bank account. So sue me. I like a little bit of lightness in my life every now and then. It reminds me of being home with my friends in Georgia, when I didn't have to stress-out constantly about what people thought of me. I could just simply be me--I didn't have to explain myself. Ultimately the best thing thematically about SATC is its representation of friendships between women. It isn't necessarily realisitc, but it's an ideal that when you come close to achieving it, you know you've found something real. To be able to call someone to come over and make you soup when you can't get out of bed, knowing that person will do it, without judging you . . . there are moments on SATC that really represent that kind of support.

And ultimately, when you're having a rough time, like I am, it's nice to be reminded that kind of support exists. And though you want to focus on the negative in your life, you have to admit you have your real-life Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda, or Carrie around, too, if you know how to look.


m said...

since when are you the unattractive one? since when is miranda the unattractive one?

i think what the show is great for is showing how much fun life can be, how beautiful (or crazy) fashion can get, how delicious a martini can be (with a little less olive juice, maybe), how humorous a relationship can be, but also how rough. i think why we always watch it during break-ups (because i have too) is that it reminds us that life is better than it feels right now, that there is hope that someone wonderful will be making furniture somewhere down the block.

anyways. i haven't had any SATC in too long. let's watch some soon.

Snobber said...

oh, posh. you flatterer. i think miranda is pretty but DAMN in the first few seasons she has such a bad haircut, and her clothes are HORRIBLE.

i hope there's someone making beautiful down my block. yes, let's have an SATC party soon.