sex and the city

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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Girls

I love love love this show. It’s what I’d call garibo ka SATC (SATC of the poor). I also love SATC. But the more the number of times I watch it, I start seeing flaws and find it very unreal, like it belongs to a world which for me can only exist in books. Girls on the other hand is very real. It’s of dirty apartments, shortage of money, a n eternal state of joblessness and confusion. I can identify with it a lot more. Maybe because in age, I am closer to the characters. SATC is about women who have formed completely. Their personalities cannot change anymore, or if they do, they’d change only marginally.While the characters in girls are still under formation.

I can almost feel the anxiety, the depression and the imaginary problems these girls face. I say imaginary because these problems are mostly in your head. Just like most of my problems are when I look at them in the context of a larger picture. Hannah is a classic misfit. She thinks she is different, and she is. But in several ways she is just the girl next door who is trying to be different. She is not ambitious in the generally understood sense of the term. She has different preferences, but she is also lazy which seems to be coming in the way of her success. She takes her parents money for granted and actually thinks that all she needs to do in return is to not become a drug addict. She has a douchebag of a guy named Adam in her life. She goes to him to have sex but they aren’t quite exclusive. She really likes him but he doesn’t seem to be interested in a relationship as such. I started off hating Adam but then as the season progresses the character grows on to you. You realise that he is just another lost soul who has no fucking idea of what he wants in life and just keeps going on anyway. He almost indulges in sadist sex with Hannah and you wonder why she still likes him. But I think this is just a way of showing that what you actually hate in real life can really turn you on in sex. Remember when Miranda says this in SATC. That she is turned on by this sexist, chauvinist guy whom she cannot stand otherwise?

The series reminds of SATC more than once. Could also be because one of the characters Shoshanna is a die hard SATC fan and looks at the world in terms of fitting each person int he SATC character mould. But also because the girls are really close friends, they share everything. Only this is more realistic in the sense that the girls can actually also be bitches with each other. Probably more to do with age. These girls are younger and still coming of age.

Jessa is one the girls and a bohemian freespirit. She is a world traveller and seems to have an insatiable thirst for adventure. She has a completely unconventional belief system and regales everyone around with her crazy stories. She is the person you most certainly have daydreamed of being at some point of your teenage years but always known you are not as bold to pull it off.  She is the desirable alter-ego with her mad sex adventures, stories from her wild travels across Europe, her drug use mishaps and a palpable sexuality that is out there.

Marnie is Hannah’s best friend and the most grounded and practical girl in the group. She has been in a steady relationship. She is level headed and the only person who gives Hannah a valid advice when Hannah’s parents tell her at the start of the seasont hat they’d be taking off her financial support. Until that point Hanhah has been living a bohemian artsy life at the cost of her parents, completely oblivious to the fact that you need money to live. period. While Hannah is figuring out the next plan of action, Jessa advises her to tell her parent that she is an artist and  would need their support. While Marnie advises Hannah to tell them that she will find a jon as that is more convincing. This to me is enough to show the difference between Marnie and the other two girls. Marnie is the prim and proper, driven, organised girl. However, she is feeling out of love with her boyfriend but cannot decide how to let him know that. The boyfriend is a decent, ordinary but a really nice guy. The kind who’d always say the right thing and generally do the right thing too. He is completely lacking in any wild streak whatsoever. What I liked about this is that despite being a rational girl, Marnie finds it difficult to keep going just because it seems to be the right thing to do. I can totally identify with her chaos. I went through a mini phase where I had become irritable because my boyfriend just never gave me a chance to complain or brood over how inconsiderate guys are. I felt that I couldn’t connect and I wanted something wild to exist. The only difference was that as a brutally honest person, I told this to my then bf now husband and got over it with his help.

Shoshanna is an ordinary classic-girl type character. She is a virgin and it’s a big burden she carries in a world where everyone else already has a robust repertoire of sexual experiences. She is the kind of person who I have had as a friend at any given point in my life: dreamy, almost annoying but still someone you want to be friends with for they are really genuine people.

What surprises me is that I can identify each character with a certain phase in my life. More than characters, the girls are like phases to me. I have been like each one of them at a certain point. Which I think is incredible about the show.

I all likelihood, I would have a different take when I am done with re-watching the whole series. I only began watching the first episode again. I am yet to watch season 3. But so far, I am super-impressed with the series. And what’s even more impressive that the show is written and directed by the 26 year old Lena Dunham who plays Hannah. Talk about being creative!

Of SATC extras

I just watched a couple of extra episodes at the end of season 6 of Sex and the City— interviews, bloopers, thoughts on completing the show etc. It’s funny how every time you watch the last episode of the series, you invariably feel a sense of loss, even though you have done innumerable marathons of the entire series. Every time you watch it, I think you keep evolving with the series and it becomes a temporary but very important part of your routine, like a secure refuge of an evening after a grueling and frustrating work day. And the extras just add to it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the extra tidbits of information that these offer, as much as I enjoy the rest of the show. In fact, even more, as it shows a very human and relatable side of the actors who represent the characters that form a part of your present memory.

I feel a very strong emotion when I watch this. I think it’s got to do with the envy and resentment of never having been part of something so creatively significant and the realisation that you’d probably never be due to various factors, the most important one being lack of any creativity whatsoever. The very scenes that you found ridiculously unrealistic, suddenly start seeming very relevant when they are put in perspective with the rest of show, the trends of the time when it actually aired and so on, which we might tend to miss if we watch it several years down the line when the time and context has changed and so has the audience.

But nostalgic musings aside, I absolutely enjoyed the extras. It was for the first time that I actually got to learn about or even acknowledge the existence of the writers to wrote the hilarious scenes that have become a part and parcel of our everyday conversations and also our linguistic repertoire. I was impressed and amazed to know facts about how much time, money, research, forecasts and frustrations went in creating one memorable scene that has a footage of no more than a minute. I felt belittled (in a good way) after seeing how many people worked so hard in creating not such a show but a social trend and behaviour that knowingly or unknowingly has shaped our behaviour through collective and personal consciousness. I wonder if I’d ever find the concept of a single, sexy woman, aware of and unabashed about her sexuality, so fashionable and alluring, if it hadn’t been for this show. Cheers!