SATC Reflections: Why I think Carrie is the worst friend and person

I’m watching the last season of Sex and the City (SATC) again. This is generally my in-between-shows show, which means I end up watching the entire series 2-3 times a year. So I must have watched each episode a minimum of 10 times now.

courtesy: huffpost

The first time I watched the show, I absolutely fell in love with it. It was a first: A show about four women, their friendships, their idiosyncrasies, and mainly sex, all against the backdrop of New York. Technically, what’s not to like? But since the first time, I have had more of a love-hate relationship with the show with every subsequent viewing.

I think the irritation mostly stems from two characters, out of the four, that I find insufferable. First, Carrie Bradshaw, and second Charlotte York. It troubles me to see that Carrie gets to be the “heroine” of the show in spite of the presence of really strong characters like Miranda and Samantha. In fact, if there’s any character that personifies sex and New York, it’s got to be Samantha Jones. While Miranda is the one I identify with the most. Her observations, her no nonsense attitude, the conviction in self, and her very real vulnerabilities are extremely realistic.

Carrie Bradshaw on the other hand is everything that’s wrong with the show. I remember a time when I had almost regretted being friends with this girl because she said she liked Carrie and Charlotte the most. I was puzzled by how she could prefer Carrie who is basically a closeted “I need to be rescued by a price charming” personality masquerading as a feminist, while Charlotte has Victorian beliefs on propriety and how women “should” be. The confusion came form the fact that this girl is a staunch feminist, and her preferences made me doubt her belief. Of course, that’s my problem, not the show’s.

Charlotte’s character is ridiculous and her expressions are so loud that they border on comic. I don’t like women like her in real life. Yes, it’s quite a strong statement to make, but I do really dislike women who have too many rules and should be’s about how women should be, and how romance should be, and how women should treat men. It’s a shallow character, but even then the character has more integrity that Carrie’s. It’s almost heart warming to see Charlotte falling in love with a guy who is the stark opposite of her entire life’s expectations from a husband. But the way she converts to Judaism and actually changes her entire lifestyle is beyond ridiculous.

Carrie Bradshaw probably is the most hate-inducing and dishonest character in the entire series, and here’s why (Sorry, this post is turning into a “I hate Carrie” rant.

1. Throughout the show Carrie “wonders” about something or the other, and they are mostly inconsequential topics, only she makes them sound like research articles, which they are not.

2. She is the only character who is hardly shown doing something for her other friends. The other three girls however keep making small compromises for each other all the times in spite of personal discomfort.

3. How she manages to have such a luxurious lifestyle and owns over a 100 pairs of Manolo Blahniks, and Jimmy Choos and what not is not explained. It’s puzzling how she can afford that with the income from one weekly column in a not-so-great local newspaper. And that’s her only job. Also, she always takes the taxi, never cooks at home, goes to fancy clubs all the time.

4. Carrie seems to always manage to land super-rich and super-famous guys: global artists, business tycoons, New York Yankees. basically people who must support her financially. So all the talk about women and freedom and independence coming from her is just hypocritical.

5. In all the relationships, it appears that she takes and takes and takes, but is hardly seen doing anything in return. She makes a huge deal about having to walk Aidan’s dog completely ignoring the things he did for her.

6. She hates plants, animals, and jungle retreats. It’s annoying how she is not appreciative of the cabin Aidan has built himself in the woods. In one of the episodes, she’s shown throwing a plant in garbage with utmost pride. She basically hates anything that requires some degree of effort.

7. She is extremely naive and has zero idea about how the real world functions. She is incapable of being on her own.

8. She cheats on Aidan with Mr. Big and then in the SATC movie, she ends up kissing Aidan after being married to Big. Make up your mind already! So basically, she constantly wants what she doesn’t have and is eternally dissatisfied.

9. She is dismissive of most people and their problems, even of those she calls her best friends. In most of the episodes, she pretends to care for her friends and listen to them, but the moment they take a breather, you’ll invariably see her jumping in with something about herself. She doesn’t even pay much attention to her friend Stanford when he’s talking about the biggest love of his life.

10. Most of Carrie’s reactions are horrendous. The way she enunciates (while talking about being broken up with on a post-it), her patent “Oooooo” when someone gifts her anything (I do an uncanny impression btw :D), her crocodile tears, the unconvincing dialogue delivery. Of course, I’m not sure if I should attribute these to the character or if SJP is a really bad actress. How can you not judge someone who identified with this character!

It’s almost unfair how all the characters consider Carrie her best friend. Even Miranda with her levelheadedness and no-bullshit approach. Every time I watch the show, I get really annoyed with this character, which is probably the show’s success: to be able to elicit a strong emotional response even if it is negative. I was googling to find articles about the show that talk about the negative aspects of Carrie’s character as well as the other characters to some extent. They more or less echo the reservations I have about this character: here, here.

Having said all of this and ranted so much, I still LOVE the show and think it was ground breaking on several counts. I don’t think there’s another show that has explored sex to such an extent. All the wacky aspects of sex that I know, I owe it to the show. It expanded my knowledge of sexual terminology. There are several brilliant moments that show strong female friendships and make you want to crave them.

I was also talking about this to the husband who has been forced to watch this show many many times with me and has pretty strong opinions himself now. He made a very interesting point about how shows such as this one are generally really well thought out and it’s for a reason why the central character or the anti-heroine is deliberately annoying. All the characters balance out in the larger context of the show. Like Miranda’s levelheadedness stands out against Carrie’s naivete and selfishness, and Miranda’s free view of sex comes out even stronger against Charlotte’s prudishness.

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20 comments

  1. Every time I think about this show this particular article comes to my mind. I think it articulated most of my thoughts:
    http://thevigilidiot.com/2010/06/26/sex-and-the-city-2/

    Having said that, I watched the show back in 2004 and I guess I have had my fair share of learning:

    1. It is okay to be cool and single
    2. It is okay to be self centered
    3. The idea that if I get married then cooking does not come with it
    4. How it is important to manage your finance and not spend your paycheck on a pair of ridiculously uncomfortable shoes..
    and several more..

    When I watched the movie that was it. It officially ended my feelings for the show…

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    1. I love vigilidiot. I’ll see what he has to say about the movie.

      The show was definitely path-breaking in many many ways. I still LOVE the show, it’s just that I no longer find it relevant or feel starry-eyed about. I also liked the new show Girls quite a bit. It’s like today’s SATC but about 4 young and poor friends who are coming to terms with the reality. A lot of people hated Girls though. They found Lena Dunhum obnoxious. 😀 I told an American friend that every time I watched Lena in the show, I thought of her. That pissed her off and she didn’t talk to me for a LONG time. 😀

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  2. Am I the only one who has never watched a single episode of this show?! I’m not sure why but I never could make myself watch it.But reading your descriptions I sort of know what it must be like. And it’s true, how they purposely make certain characters in the show irritating to create the perfect balance. Take the Big Bang Theory, for example. Sheldon is incredibly exasperating and irritating at all times but the show wouldn’t have been what it is if it wasn’t for his character.

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    1. Even I watched the show much after it had ended. I think I watched it only 3 years back. Even Friends, I watched much much later.

      Yeah, Sheldon starts getting on your nerves after a while. I still think he’s hilarious, but in the latest season he’s a bit much. I think how you are as a person has a lot to do with how you receive media. I turn against characters very quickly if they don’t echo my moral code. Which is actually a very naive way of watching anything, I think. I admire people who can look at a show as a complete independent entity instead of trying to make it something you’d want it to be.

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  3. I have watched and enjoyed SATC a very long time ago. I don’t feel very strongly about the show and though I wouldn’t mind watching reruns, I won’t seek them out. In fact I watched SATC-2 (did not like it) a couple of weeks ago on TV. I am saying all this because I am not familiar with all the beauty spots and warts of this series the way you will be and so could well be missing out on a lot of nuances that you are more intimately familiar with so happy to be corrected.

    I found the show worked for me because each of the characters were their own people and very different from each other. I thought that it is exactly why their friendship worked because we are drawn to different people for different things. Some of my very good friends whom I enjoy being with are my polar opposites, but the chemistry between us is right.

    I also thought that each of the four characters were metaphors for the way people (or women) feel at different points in time. I found a little bit of myself in each of the characters. People are one and many at the same time. I am a fiercely independent women in every which way any one can think of – I don’t need male (or female) assistance in most tasks of life both big and small and am doing just fine living life by myself dealing with the finances, taxes and other bug bears that are considered to be male domains, but I do like the idea of being swept away by a prince charming who is charming in the way I want him to be. I don’t know if that desire makes me a lesser feminist in which case I don’t think I would fight to conform to be the ‘right’ one anyway. Plus, I am a Salman Khan who is perhaps the one person antithetical to every idea about feminism. Just saying 🙂

    A former colleague who is a Gujarati and a good friend is a very strong women and a feminist again in all the traditional terms that you can think of. Yet, she is more Tamil than a Tamilian because she married into a Tamil family and has changed a lot of things about herself to integrate herself into her husband’s family. She and I have had long discussions over many car rides on her adaption process and her view on feminism is that if this is what her heart commands her to do, why should she resist. Other than being in love, she says that this is her chance to push her brain to assimilate and learn something new about another culture she has married into. Circumstances have pushed her into living in a joint family and she wants to do her part in maintaining harmony because it is important to her in this phase of her life where she wants to enjoy being a happily married woman.

    With the sex and New York part. This really made me think because I know several women on my FB list who moved to NY after graduating from UT. Each of their posts, pictures, their activities, and their comments on NY are vastly different from each other. I think the construct of what sex in New York city should be like may well be a mythical,aspirational, and idealized construct of popular culture that is peddled to us and which we want to buy in because it offers gratification to our subliminal desires. We all experience things differently and debates about which experience be deemed more valid than another can be endless.

    About Carrie I think she may be an inherently self-centered person, but that could well be her trademark trait akin to late coming, absent mindedness, or other such quirks. I don’t remember if it is a dominant one, though. In any case, the show would revolve around her because Candace Bushnell wrote her as the lead. Also, Sarah Jessica Parker is the EP of the show which means that she is going to ensure that the spotlight remains largely on Carrie’s life 🙂

    I bought something that I thought you would like so will gift it to you the next time we meet. I look forward to you receiving it with a Carrie impersonation 🙂

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    1. I don’t have any problems with the diversity of characters, themes, experiences, and the quality of writing. I think the show is hilarious and revolutionary in its own right. And happens to be in the list of my to 10 shows of all time. I don’t have problems with desiring a prince charming to sweep you off your feet, or changing your religion for love. I have problems with the hypocrisy and pretense of characters while doing that. Take Charlotte who changes her personality overnight and becomes a Jew. She is shown as a fairly devout Episcopalian till she is 35, and then she uses becoming a jew against Harry and dismisses him for his bald and ugly looks.

      I have seen a lot of other shows with a negative central character. Be it Walter White, or Don Draper. Both the characters are extremely flawed, self-centered (Don Draper mostly), and generally have traits associated with negative characters, but they don’t induce hatred because that portrayal is out there to see and be judged. But they are not the voice of their respective shows. And the other characters have voices too which doesn’t make it seem lopsided and unfair. The problem arises when SATC is entirely narrated from Carrie’s perspective and she becomes the voice of the show and tends to have the judgmental final word even if that final word is complete bullshit. So even if you are an extremely critical viewer, you can’t help but listen to the voice. Granted that the show is based on a book which is sort of like a personal diary. But the knowledge of that doesn’t keep me from judging the characters. Every time you watch anything, you’re constantly evaluating the characters against each other. There’s a positive, a negative, there are twists. What is problematic is taking a bunch of negative traits and throwing them at you as positive and making it seem like the protagonist is the victim, which is the case in SATC. Carrier’s word is the final word. So there she is in her self-centered, naive bubble passing judgments on everyone and everything around her, but you don’t hear another voice that can negate that. Take Big’s wife Natasha for example. She is given no voice, and it makes you wonder why the self-proclaimed intelligent Carrie is so condescending about someone she knows nothing about.

      So basically, what I’m judging is not the characterization, the setting, the writing, or the production values; it’s just the character.

      Ooooooo what did you get??? Believe me, you’ll hate me if I do the Carrie impression. It’s uncanny but also very putoffish 😀

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      1. I don’t have the kind of insight you would have about Carrie’s personality or into the production values of the show, so my response was to various points you raised in the post about extrapolations to how people in real life react to it too.

        I was contesting that because feminism, feminine desires, and our likes and dislikes are not mutually exclusive and cannot be expected to cancel each other out. Thus my point about Salman Khan and my Gujarati friend too because in that case we both should be shunned and held as a betrayal to whatever feminism is as defined by someone else without accounting for what our lives have been beyond these two points. I have many Charlotte moments in life and many Miranda, Carrie, and Samantha moments too. I don’t know because I haven’t been there, but I may feel condescending about the wife of a lover who jilted me at the altar. Rightfully or wrongfully. I don’t think I could be very charitable towards her because I am still madly in love with him and plus I am hurting very badly. So, anybody he chooses to be with other than me will be flawed in my eyes. I will admit I am hazy on these details so don’t know the form of condescension that Carrie exhibited towards her. So, recognizing that is unfair for me to continue this discussion anyway, will rest this here.

        About hypocrisy, I think we all are to varying degrees in our life. We can be cruel and we can be very sympathetic all at the same time towards the same or different people and especially towards the one we love where gloves are off and we know the exact weapons to deploy to hurt them and we do have our moments where we do it. I liked that SATC and even Desperate Housewives displayed that without raising any of these women to an ideal pedestal because none of us are ideal. I like that they showed clay feet beneath the nail paint 🙂

        Again, I am speaking from whatever I can recall of the show from years ago and from my being a different person so my reaction to it will certainly differ.

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      2. My reservations are specific to Carrie’s need to be “rescued” by a prince charming not to be in love with one. I don’t think that’s connected to your friend who made a personal choice to immerse into Tamil culture.

        Carrie was not jilted by her lover at the altar before he married Natasha. Carrie breaks up with him and he then moves on. I don’t understand why her hate towards Natasha is justified in this case. I can still understand her hate towards Big for moving on quickly.

        Yes, we all exhibit different personalities at different times, but I believe most of us have a dominant pattern. I think Carrie’s is selfishness and hypocrisy. Yes, we all display very contrasting emotions all the time. I myself am a bundle of vastly contrasting emotions and outlooks, but there are still some things that are a deal breaker. Like the blog post I had written about a friend who didn’t attribute my name. That is unquestionably immoral to me. And it’s on that level that I am writing about Carrie, analyzing her as an individual (in spite of some of her good moments).

        I think SATC does raise Carrie to a pedestal, which is precisely the reason behind this argument. It’s exactly this glamorising of being an “insensitive, selfish” jerk and touting these as qualities of a modern and liberated woman, which they aren’t. This exactly was the whole point behind my post. It’s very difficult and complex to define true feminism, but Carrie hardly qualifies as one in my book.

        Being “different” should definitely be celebrated, but that doesn’t make it okay to be a jerk to others.

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    2. May be I’m not articulating it very well. And it’s somehow sounding like I am giving out a verdict on who is and isn’t a feminist. That’s not the intention. The post is purely about why I hate Carrie. Here are a couple of articles that are much more articulate that I could ever hope to be.
      http://elitedaily.com/entertainment/hate-carrie-will-always-love-sex-city/872621/
      http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/blogs/obsessed/2013/01/carrie-bradshaw
      http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/entertainment/a10245/carrie-bradshaw-is-horrible/
      http://thoughtcatalog.com/chelsea-fagan/2014/03/why-carrie-bradshaw-is-the-worst-possible-person-a-woman-could-idolize/
      http://www.smaggle.com/2014/06/30/the-top-9-dick-moves-of-carrie-bradshaw/

      Surprisingly there is a lot of writing about hating Carrie. I absolutely hadn’t expected this.

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      1. The point about my Gujarati colleague was in response to the point about Charlotte adopting another religion not about Carrie’s desire to have a prince charming rescue her. I am all in favor of being rescued by prince charmings too, by the way, just because they are mythical like unicorns and sometimes I need to borrow romance at its idealized and lop sided best from pop culture to recharge given its lack in my own life. So, I think the prince charming part is to fulfill desires of women who do desire love stories just like Samantha’s sexuality was to fulfill desires of women who want to be able to display sexual boldness. Depending on our perspective and what we desire, one or more or none will be cooler or more appealing to us.

        And I will say that I have seldom come across people (men and women) who can remain uncritical or charitable towards their ex’es current partners irrespective of the circumstances of their breakup – until at least they have gotten used to the idea. Like I said, I will let this rest because I certainly am hazy on the details of Carrie’s personality and her love life 🙂

        I hear you when you say that this is your perspective towards a character and her seflishness, but I think I was prompted to react to the parts where you reflect on your reactions to people who favored characters you don’t like as a statement about their beliefs. Sorry, for my continued contrarainess on this. I won’t lengthen this more and will read the links. Thanks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally agree with your point, “Depending on our perspective and what we desire, one or more or none will be cooler or more appealing to us. ” That makes complete sense.

        With Charlotte, my problem is not so much changing the religion as completely kicking out her previous religion. I wouldn’t have felt it strongly had she not be devout about her previous religion.

        Hehehe…this turned into a looong discussion. I guess you’re a lot more forgiving with shows. 🙂 I am quite the opposite.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Long discussions are good 🙂 and there is no fun if everyone agrees all the time. I think all of we people who are inclined towards the written word have strong feelings about one thing or another which is what prompts us to write.

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  4. I have never seen SOTC except random episodes here and there. I saw a season of the Carrie diaries. But I have realized I will never like her. Her personality just doesn’t fit my idea of a heroine. Also I don’t like SJP.

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    1. I heard about Carrie Diaries. I haven’t watched it. But I came across an article that said that the Carrie in this one isn’t as bad as the grown up (only physically) Carrie.

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  5. What a great post to chance upon. I have obviously not paid as much attention to SATC as you have or even watched it as many times. I don’t have very strong opinions on it but I was constantly nodding my head at everything you said. It is a great perspective and while you might have been very annoyed while writing it, it had me splits of laughter. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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