This is an article I wrote a while ago and never clicked post. It’s something I was quite passionate about before life got in the way and I never had time to put it out when it was really relevant. I still want to make a comment though so am putting it out there…Hope you enjoy it.
Can we push pause on life for just one cotton-picking minute. I would like to put my hand up and ask a question. And in today’s ‘eye roll’ age where no one has a minute to spare for anyone else, no slack is ever given and if you don’t keep up you must ship out I appreciate that I’m asking for a lot. But humour me please.
I just wanted to get up on my soap box and ask – where all the haters have come from? Why is there so much hate-orade in town? In quite a few towns I might add. I just don’t understand it. And this has nothing to do with the contestants on Love Island, or Trump’s visit to the UK or even this morning’s ITV discussion about whether or not women are soliciting sexual harrasment by their choice of outfits on the red carpet (a whole other conversation to delve into at some point).
No, what I wanted to jump up and down about for a minute is to ask WHY oh why is there so much hate towards Sex and the City? That 90’s cult obsession that has been re-watched over and over and over again. We’ve watched it for the quotes, the outfits, the boy stories and the fact that we have all seen a glimpse of ourselves in those 4 sassy ladies that ran our lives for the best part of a rather hairy decade. On the eve of Sex and the City’s 20 year anniversary something is clearly up.
It all started with an article I read in Stylist magazine. ‘Has Sex and the City aged gracefully?’ Not ominous at all. In my eyes anything with ‘aging’ or ‘age’ in the title cannot be good. And it wasn’t. The lovely writer Kayleigh Dray proceeded to give cocktail numbered verdicts on how the show, ‘fares today on issues that count’.
Well there’s problem number one – this show wasn’t written today. It was written in a time when women were trying to dominate the workforce, make it on their terms, have babies on their own, figure out how to have that illusive ‘all’ that their mothers and grandmothers had fought so hard for amongst navigating an AIDS epidemic, the dot.com bubble, the arrival of the Spice Girls, the fall of Apartheid, Communism and Bill Clinton, etc. etc.
So why are we comparing it to issues that affect us today? How is that a relevant comparison. Just one example – transsexuals were a hot topic back then but now we have a whole host of gender and sexual related concepts to wrap our heads around -LGBT, asexuals, pansexuals, polyamory, gender neutral, the list goes on. So why oh why do we relate the two?
Ms Dray then proceeds to discuss diversity – sorry I mean – the major lack of diversity in the show. She finds some racist or ignorant examples of how Miranda follows a ‘white guy with a baby’ but fails to mention how Miranda also pursues a black doctor and when discussing him with her friends doesn’t mention a word about him being black. Or that she binge watches a series called Jules&Mimi which features an interracial couple. (Side note – when said doctor’s sister finds out that he’s dating a white chick she’s the one who loses her mind. Who would have thought racism plays both ways? The writers of SATC did).
What about the episode where the naive Charlotte cavorts with a plethora of lovely lesbians who are mixed race and Asian? Yes she also has to deal with her horrid mother-in-law Bunny who spews xenophobic comments like it’s the latest lunchtime accessory. But dear Bunny is also depicted throughout the show as a solidly two dimensional character on who Charlotte ultimately gets her revenge. Oh and ps she does actually end up adopting an Asian child.
And the comment on Sam wearing an Afro wig? Really? For a character going through cancer on the show I would think she could get a bit of a break. The woman never plays by the rules, why should she with her headwear when she’s going through something as debilitating as chemo? Should I point out how many Beyoncés and Niki Minaj’s get blonde weaves? How is this even a talking point.
Then we move on to sexual consent. Again lets take a step back. As I recall, at the time the show was applauded for its candid attitude towards sex. Discussions about vibrators, dry spells, threesomes, ‘funky tasting spunk’ were not really du jour in the nineties. Maybe they were in NYC or liberal London, but not globally. Yes maybe it wasn’t all pc but the series was all about showcasing different attitudes towards sex (Charlotte = romantic, Samantha = adventurous, Miranda = mutually beneficial, Carrie = rolling with it). Yes in the advent of #Metoo and Timesup we don’t notice it but we had to start somewhere and SATC was that beginning. HBO’s GIRLS wouldn’t be such a ground breaking success if there hadn’t been anything before it to set a bar – any kind of bar. Just a bar where women are present and having a conversation – be it write or wrong. It got people talking about issues which maybe weren’t being voiced at the time. Just a thought.
The writer then sums up the article in a nice little bow claiming in a nutshell that for all its flaws we still love ‘ole SATC. Well no Ms Dray, you can’t skin the show alive and then expect to cuddle it (sorry that’s actually quite a gory analogy). I hate this kind of journalism where we start exploring ideas or issues but then run out of ink or someone decides that it would be more controversial or satirically interesting if we tear something to shreds without really going too deep or doing too much research.
This morbid tone was then echoed over at Vogue as writer Julia Felsenthal discusses the detrimental effect SATC had on her. Who knew fictional TV could be so destructive to our real lives? If I didn’t know any better I would say she was blaming Carrie and the crew for her mistakes, failures, missed opportunities and misspent money. Drinks she couldn’t afford, men she shouldn’t have dated and a lot of energy that should have been directed to achieving her dream.
And I fully appreciate these are lifestyle pieces exploring an opinion. And everyone’s entitled to one. But then I hit an SATC search on google and the top results were less than stellar. WHY!?
Who said TV was supposed to be perfect? And to top that mind blowing concept – who decided we had to emulate it rather than learn from it and it’s characters’ mistakes? Why do we all think we will be the exception rather than the rule? Who decided we all needed to be one of four static representations of womanhood? Representations created and cartooned into gross over exaggerations for effect and good TV. The truth is that none of us are Carrie (mind. blown.). And we don’t each know a person who is SUCH a Samantha. We are all a little piece of each of these women. They are a fragment drawn and imprinted into a TV episode or Candice Bushnell column. And that’s the joy of them.
We are ever changing and so is our world. When we look back at Sex and the City we should enjoy a brief visit to a time where we agreed with certain viewpoints and maybe gained some clarity or realised how far we’ve come from others. I say lets celebrate SATC and those crazy times, look back at how 20 years has changed us, made us better and maybe worse, but definitely moved us on. Because there is no way we can compare ourselves to 20 years ago and relate. And if we do then we are doing something very wrong. So I say enough with the haters. Enough now.