Sunday, 9 June 2013

15 things Sex and The City taught me

Happy 15th Anniversary SATC

SATC is to my teenage years what Harry Potter was to the simpler, prepubescent ones. By that, I mean the kind of escape from a pretty standard adolescence that could only be offered by a magical kid who was best pals with Dumbledore, or a (similarly unrealistic) single and "fabulous" writer in New York.

With my degree over and the real world looming ominously close, I am putting my feet up for as long as I have an excuse to do so and rewatching - yet again - my SATC boxset. In honour of what could be my last boxset binge in a while, and the show's own approach to adulthood, I decided to share a little of what exactly I learned from Carrie Bradshaw and co. 

NB: I'm going to start this with the disclaimer that I'm well aware of how vapid and annoying many people find the show, but that if you gave it a chance (and I know this for a fact after recommending it to a cynical friend) you might just like it. Yeah, she's not Simone de fucking Beauvoir, but Carrie still taught me a thing or two.

1) Opposites Attract.

No, I'm not talking about the old relationship cliché, I'm talking friendship wise. Samantha and Charlotte were never exactly on the same page when it came to well, anything much, but they realised that sometimes this can be just what you need.

Charlotte, for instance, shares this pearl of wisdom: "I don’t want to be the up-the-butt girl, because I mean...Men don’t marry up-the-butt girl. Whoever heard of Mrs. Up-The-Butt? No, no, no. I can’t. I want children and nice bedding, and I just can’t handle this right now."

Whereas Samantha is all: 

2) "Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into and sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.”

The best part of SATC was always the focus on the friendship between Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. As Big memorably pointed out, "You girls are the loves of her life; a guy is just lucky to come in fourth." Men came and went throughout the six seasons, but the four women were consistently there for each other, occasionally helping to point out which of the men needed to go. 

Self-professed baby hater Samantha babysits for Miranda, Carrie holds Miranda's hand at her mother's funeral, Charlotte lends Carrie the money for an apartment she's about to lose. Feminists who dismiss this show as materialistic nonsense have missed all of these lovely moments, and more.

3) Everyone makes the odd fashion faux-pas.

As much as I will forever worship at the altar of SJP, I feel she could have called the show's stylist out from time to time. Carrie is a supposed 'fashionista', but sometimes, her outfits were questionable to say the least. Seriously, a belt around your bare midriff...were your abs cold?! The show is famed for its fashion, but even the woman who admits to having spent $40,000 on shoes makes mistakes (and given its 90s setting, there were quite a few).

4) No amount of McDonalds will win round your commitment-phobe boyfriend. 

After discovering that her on/off boyfriend 'Mr Big' has been planning on moving to Paris without thinking to tell her, rather than bidding him au revoir as any sensible woman would, Carrie decides the best option is to dress up in a beret and purchase some "fish au filet" courtesy of McDonalds. Unsurprisingly, this isn't enough to bring Big round to la vie en France with Carrie in tow, and the McDs (along with their relationship) ends up going splat against the wall.

5) If you've found your Aidan, you don't need a Mr Big.

Team Aidan, or Team Big? The million-dollar question for any SATC devotee. I have to admit, I've always felt Big had a certain something ("abso-fuuckin'-lutely"). But when it comes down to it, any self respecting woman would be on Aidan's side. This is where Carrie, much as I love her, is at her most annoying. 'Oooo I have an amazingly lovely boyfriend who dares to ask me how my day's been so now I feel smothered and I can't possibly go to his country cabin for a weekend 'cos I'm a city girl' (yeah I'm paraphrasing a little).

Only in TV land would a woman start an affair with the guy who had dumped her time and time again, refusing to commit, and then married a younger model in a matter of months. As much as we all swooned just a tad at Big finally telling her "you're the one", it took him too bloody long to realise it.

6) Nothing should get in the way of a shopping trip.

These ladies were always shopping. This is definitely something I can relate to, though I have to admit I spend a little more time in Topshop than I probably ever will in Saks. As Samantha points out after Carrie questions her accompaniment on a shopping trip after sustaining an injury: "Honey, I have a broken toe, not a broken spirit."

7) Friends should leave the yelling at your boyfriend to you.

"I CURSE THE DAY YOU WERE BORN"... Just no, Charlotte. I think Carrie had it handled herself, what with the whacking Big round the head with her wedding bouquet after he fails to turn up to the altar.

Incidentally, why were they all so ready to forgive Steve for cheating on Miranda, but cursing Big's existence for his wedding day cold-feet?

8) Your friends probably know best, but you're going to ignore them until they get to say I told you so.

Hey Carrie, you know when you got on your high horse about your friends pointing out that moving to Paris with no job and no friends and a questionable man was probably a bad idea? They were right! Aleksandr Petrovsky was an unlikeable, weed of a man, and as much as I would jump at the chance to move to Paris, I don't think I'd be jumping quite so quickly if it meant living with him.

Charlotte was similarly wise to point out to Carrie that having an affair with a now married Big, who had previously claimed he'd never get married again, was definitely not one of her best moves. As much as we might hate the one they're making, more often than not your friends have a point.

9) Never trust a man who hasn't heard of Billy Joel. Or one who insists on saying "Alrighty". 

Carrie was understandably annoyed when Miranda admitted she didn't like Petrovsky. However, it quickly transpired that Miranda's judgement was correct. My mind had been made up as soon as he appeared to have no idea who Billy Joel was - how can you live in NYC and not know 'New York State of Mind'?

Charlotte's relationship with Trey 'Alrighty' MacDougal also delivered a fair few important life lessons. Firstly, the eligible doctor figure might be the better prospect on paper, but the bald guy who talks with his mouth full might just turn out to be the love of your life. Ohh I love Harry. Charlotte's relationship with Trey also extols the virtues of sex before marriage...because well we all know how that turned out.

10) Gay guys are a girl's best friend.

Some of the best lines in the show undoubtedly came from Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marontino. Case in point being: Charlotte [on being blind]: "Can you think of anything worse?" Anthony: "Stonewashed jeans and matching jacket."

I'm aware of criticism over TV shows featuring a 'token gay' character, but I've been lucky enough to find out that the idea of a girl having one of the most hilarious (and occasionally bitchy) gay guys as a best friend is definitely one of the show's most realistic elements.

12) Over the top and dramatic comments are occasionally perfectly acceptable.

"So I decided to go home, and kill myself." This quote appears in the episode featuring Carrie's 35th Birthday, when no one makes it to her birthday dinner on time and she realises she feels lonely and a little bit depressed, and rather than wait for them, heads home to be miserable. While wallowing in self-pity and generally feeling sorry for yourself are not exactly desirable traits, such activity is occasionally necessary, and who doesn't have a day like that sometimes?

13) If your friend is in a crisis, you should help her out and NOT just send your boyfriend. 

....Because he might find her struggling naked on the bathroom floor. Which ties into a larger Carrie inspired realisation - being generally selfish is not cool. While indulging in a Sex and the City marathon, you will most likely realise just how much Carrie enjoys talking about herself, at the expense of the other ladies getting a word in edgeways. A lot of the female support the show is famed for is definitely towards her, rather than from her. 

14) There's always something to moan about. 

I definitely have something of the Miranda about me - I was cynical before I even knew what the word meant, and I find complaining can be somewhat therapeutic. SATC showed that no matter what was going on in your life - single, married, working mother, trying to get pregnant - everyone has their own stuff to deal with, and it's a good idea to have a few friends to help you get through it.

15) You can tell your friends anything (though they might not want to hear it all)

So Samantha may have over-shared at times. But what was great about Sex and the City was that it presented all of the intricacies of female friendship - no topic was off limits. This didn't just mean gory sexual details, but also - much like when Carrie tells the group "I'm lonely" - an acknowledgement of what you don't even want to admit to yourself. Whatever it is, as they say, better out than in!