Film & TV

Things I Couldn’t Help but Wonder While Watching ‘Sex and the City’

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A Zoom class covers half my screen and a Google doc the rest as I column like the Dollar Tree Carrie Bradshaw. I began “Sex and the City” for the first time in January — just in time for next year’s reboot — and I couldn’t help but wonder a lot about the show’s rose-colored world.

Through six seasons and two movies, “Sex and the City” became a quintessential show for young women due to its fashion, friendships and romance after its 1998 premiere. A generation later, the dialogue is still sharp and the show boisterously engaging, but some questions remain.

For one, how does Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) find the money to buy designer?

Obviously, “Sex and the City” doesn’t exist in reality — if it did, maybe there’d be more than three Black characters in four seasons — but I’m thinking Carrie is embezzling to get those Manolo Blahnik’s and we’re just ignoring it.

The fourth season lightly addresses this issue when Carrie learns she has less than a thousand dollars in the bank and has spent more than $40,000 on shoes. She outsources for work, leading Vogue to offer her $4.50 per word. But why would Vogue pay someone at such a chaotic rate? How did she go this long spending her entire salary on shoes without an issue?

I wonder how Carrie landed her swanky work-from-home columnist gig. Where did she intern and how did she rise the ranks to become the premier New York City sex columnist? Will we ever see the editor with whom she’s had so many alleged meetings? (Update: He appears in season five, episode two! That’s one question answered). And is the fictional New York Star more of a New York Post or New Yorker?

I also wonder how Carrie’s readers feel. Do they read, “A relationship is like couture; if it doesn’t fit perfectly, it’s a disaster,” and sit back in awe with a new life’s purpose? Do they put down the New York Star to go forth and set the world on fire, or are her columns collecting dust while Carrie’s none the wiser?

Okay, I can’t be too cynical. I’ve cried multiple times watching the show and had multiple hours of conversation with my mom about it on the phone. She was a devoted Aidan (John Corbett) fan, but for some reason I’m rooting for Mr. Big (Chris Noth) to end up with Carrie. Maybe I’m a masochist. Well, we know where this story goes and the ending’s a Big one, so perhaps I took the bumpier route for a reason.

In a season three episode, Carrie dates a bisexual man. The plot has expectedly aged like milk, but it captures the 2000-zeitgeist well enough. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) says, “I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.”

She also says, “I don’t believe in the Republican Party or the Democratic Party — I just believe in parties.” My mom thinks Samantha is lost, but that’s less to do with her social commentary and more with her proclivity for sleeping around. 

While Carrie often dresses like a randomized sim, the fashion is a cultural landmine. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) revolutionized styling pants with a traditionally feminine wardrobe. Samantha’s monochromatic outfits are inspired, vivacious and downright stunning. Then there’s Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), who wears Ann Taylor.

Given their differences, it’s worth wondering how this group of women met. I can figure Samantha and Carrie met through their mutual field of communications, but which women’s luncheon did Charlotte blow in from? And when did they become a defined squad who meets for regular brunch and sex talk? Finding such a well-balanced group of friends is enviable behavior. Maybe Carrie should write about that.

And I truly can’t help but wonder — if Carrie were real, would she have become a Real Housewife of New York City? I think the answer is yes. 

I wonder if the world was ever as picturesque, whether people simply lived better lives in the days of Y2K. Would our lives magically improve if we returned to reading print newspapers and moved away from social media overload?

Perhaps the world was never this whimsical. Maybe people will look back on the shows of today with the same nostalgic prowess. What shows would they even refer to? Surely not spiritual-successor “Emily in Paris.” At least watch the criminally undiscussed “Younger” if you want modern Darren Starr. 

Did the viewers of “Sex and the City” know they were witnessing a time capsule of culture and bask in its presence? My mom can’t remember much at all from the middle seasons because she was busy having kids, so it seems the answer is no.

Carrie would close her column with some odd analogy, then smirk and shut off her fat laptop. My best effort is, “As I stared at the faceless names on my Zoom screen, I couldn’t help but wonder: are we all just nameless faces looking for a connection in this city?” That doesn’t make sense and neither does she. But her face is on the side of a bus and mine is not, so what do I know.

“Sex and the City” is streaming in remastered HD on HBO Max. “And Just Like That…,” a reboot starring the primary cast sans Cattrall, will debut on the streaming service in 2021.

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