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.
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.