The Complicated Legacy of Sex and the City

In June 1998, the world was introduced to four single ladies living it up in New York City. The ground breaking show, Sex and the City was created by Darren Star who was best known at the time for Beverly Hills, 902010 and its spinoff Melrose Place.

His creation was loosely based on the 1996 book by Candace Bushnell which was a compilation of her columns for the New York Observor. The TV show didn’t really breakout with fans until the second season when it changed the format a bit. The show’s main character, Carrie Bradshaw, who was also a newspaper columnist, stopped addressing the camera directly, and simply provided a voice-over narration.

Sex and the City was considered revolutionary at the time, because of its frank talk about sex which became the show’s hallmark. The show was also praised for its take on single life. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda showed Gen-X women that you didn’t need a partner to have fun, happy lives.

It was also one the first shows to focus on female friendships. It was hard not to be jealous of their Sunday brunches!

I didn’t tune into the show until 2000 after the birth of my first daughter. To get caught up, I used my VCR to tape repeats of the episodes I had missed. Carrie and her friends kept me company during many late night and early morning feedings. As much as I enjoyed escaping my life for the length of an episode, I was bothered by a couple of things. Why could the show’s characters eat and drink endlessly and never exercise and still maintain society’s ideal body type. And if they were so happy being single, why were they always talking about men?

The Emmy award winning show had many other flaws that have come into focus more since it went off the air after six seasons. In particular, the lack of diversity on the show, and what a Harper’s Bazaar article calls a simplistic representation of the gay community.

Also, the blatant glorification of materialism and an almost unbelievable luxury lifestyle that was all about shopping and designer goods. How many $400 Manolo Blahniks did Carrie have in that closest? Nevermind that, how could she afford such a high-end life in Manhattan on a freelancers salary?

Despite the problems with Sex and the City there’s no denying the lasting impact of the show and its role in helping jump start the golden age of television along with shows like The Sopranos and The Wire

As soon as it wrapped in 2004 buzz started about a possible big-screen adaptation. Sex and the City: The Movie was released in 2008 and received mixed reviews but was a box office success. Sex and the City 2 aired in 2010 and was so bad most fans have tried to block it from their memories.

As for a third installment…..well that will likely never happen thanks in part to a long standing public feud between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall. So much for female friendships.

For more stories from the 1990s make sure to check out my podcast “History of the 90s” on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at Curiouscast.ca

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