I first tried watching Sex and the City (SATC) a couple of years ago. As a fan of Darren Star’s latest fun, if at times oddly-paced, show Younger, I figured I was likely to enjoy its fashion-forward and more mature cousin even more.
Yet, when I queued up the first episode on HBO Go, I couldn’t get past the late-‘90s fashion, the slang and the way they talked about sex. As much as I love Sarah Jessica Parker (and her shoes), it all seemed so ridiculously outdated.
Cut to two years later: SJP and Kim Cattrall are feuding over the third SATC movie failing to make it to the production stage (#sad), and I’m as big of a Carrie Bradshaw fan as anyone.
What changed? Maybe it was that I could finally bring myself to admit that the brand of idealized, almost Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-esque friendship portrayed on screen is one that the majority of women, myself included, crave.
Or perhaps it’s because in fashion, as trends come and go, what was outdated quickly feels relevant again. In this case, the past few seasons have seen a rebirth of grunge and other ‘90s styles. Whether in a frat basement or at an upscale restaurant, you’re likely to spy at least one woman wearing a choker, something with a camo print or a slinky velvet slip dress fit for a young Kate Moss.
But I think that the key reason is one I only discovered after getting hooked, that despite being created long before the advent of streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go, SATC is perfectly designed for binge-watching.
Unlike some of HBO’s other shows, which require a greater time commitment, each episode of SATC is bite-sized: only a half hour long. This makes them perfect for putting on in the background while you’re eating lunch or taking a late-night study break.
While shows like Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale or HBO’s The Leftovers may leave you with existential questions and an even more overwhelming sense of dread at the thought of facing the day, SATC wraps up each episode in a neat little (usually punny) bow.
This same lightheartedness also lends itself to viewers being able to watch multiple episodes in a row without having to pause to digest what they’ve just witnessed. However bleak things might appear, you know that Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte are going to be okay, and by extension, you have greater faith that just maybe you are too.
The character of Samantha is an obvious girl power go-to. She refuses to be slut shamed by her friends, the men she sleeps with or passersby on the street. She’s also a PR boss that can put anyone (male or female) in their place. Samantha is a modern woman who is unafraid to take control in the boardroom or the bedroom. Not gonna lie, that’s pretty rad.
Miranda is also pretty badass. She works as a high-powered lawyer, refuses to lower her standards for anyone and would be voted “Most Likely to Subvert Gender Norms” if this show had superlatives. Even if it’s sometimes to her disadvantage, she is a fantastic foil to the stereotypical “hysterical” view of femininity.
Charlotte, though definitely on the more conservative side, refuses to allow herself to be pigeonholed into the Madonna-whore complex. She may play by the rules, but they’re rules that embody her values. Ultimately, she can throw them away without much shame at the drop of a hat.
Then, of course, there is our narrator and the true protagonist of the show, Carrie Bradshaw. Regardless of who you get assigned on whatever online quiz you take, just admit it, pretty much everyone wants to be a Carrie.
Carrie is unapologetic and at times blunt about her sexuality. I’d have to imagine that if SATC was set in today’s times, Carrie would either have a killer lifestyle blog (minus the DIYs/recipes) or help bring back The News-Letter’s Orgasmic Chemistry column. Either way I’d definitely be following her Instagram.
Whether you identify as a Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte or Carrie, chances are you’ll go through phases where you’re totally frustrated with each of their life decisions over the course of the show. Unlike when the show was originally airing, by streaming it today you can choose to skip the less juicy episodes and avoid the pain of waiting to find out what’s going to happen next. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure full of immediate gratification.
You can also choose when to take a break from SATC without FOMO. Back in the day, if you missed an episode, unless you were one of relatively few to have TiVo, you were out of luck.
Now, with all the episodes available online 24/7, you can build your own watching schedule. Viewers aren’t beholden to networks in the same way, a welcome development for those of us at Hopkins with packed schedules.
Episode after episode, SATC has helped fill the New York City-sized hole in my heart since I left my not-quite-as-sexy summer internship in the city. It epitomizes the intoxicating feeling of the limitlessness of being single in a locale where there’s always something exciting to do. Yet, it also embraces the sometimes pervasive sense of loneliness, of wanting to share those experiences with someone else too.
As much as it’s a kind of time capsule, SATC is also a portrait of a city whose atmosphere has remained the same even as its various neighborhoods have gone in and out of style.
Next time you’re in dire need of a lighthearted, binge-watching experience, get your HBO password from your parents and give SATC a try. While it may take a couple of episodes for you to warm up to it, you’re sure to be hooked.