What Keeps Us Watching Sex and the City, 20 Years On?
20 years ago, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte burst onto our screens in a flurry of Manolo Blahniks, over-sized vibrators and fake nipples. Everyone on the Tung-team was sub-10-years-old at the time, so we weren't tuned-in for the first run, but later, slowly, Sex and the City became a part of everyone's consciousness whether you'd actually seen an episode or not. Love it or hate it, Sex and the City is, to this day, a stalwart of contemporary pop culture.
Now, all of that's not to say that Sex and the City has aged perfectly. In a lot of ways its less a fine wine, more a browning banana. Much like Friends, there are jokes in there that deal insensitively with issues of sexuality, race and gender. Even the feminism is often, by today's standards, sorely lacking. That being said (and leaving the movies out of it entirely because wtf happened there), Sex and the City has become, in our minds at least, bigger than the sum of its ageing parts. Anna, Sarah and Tutku have each picked an iconic moment, along with an eye-roll inducing one, to try to get to the bottom of why...
ANNA'S MOST ICONIC SATC MOMENT...
For me, Sex and the City has become one of those ‘background’ shows. You know the ones — the kind you put on when you’re drying your hair or choosing what to wear. It’s not that it’s been relegated to a lower-class of show, quite the opposite. I know it so well that I could listen to the just the audio and still know what’s happening. It’s the ultimate comfort show.
And that’s why, one night after one of my best friends had an awkward conversation with her ex at a party a few years ago, I turned to her and said ‘...sleepover?’ We walked back to mine, made snacks, both dressed in my pyjamas, and put on SATC season 1 episode 9: ‘The Turtle and the Hare.’ It’s not the greatest episode (none of season 1 is, tbh) — Samantha goes out with a guy with halitosis, Charlotte becomes addicted to her vibrator, Big tells Carrie he’s not the marrying kind — but there’s nothing more iconic to me than my friend turning up the volume to drown out the sound of her ex-boyfriend drunkenly shouting her name outside my bedroom window.
AND MOST EYE ROLL-INDUCING MOMENT...
I know this is a huge cliche but let me have it: whhyyyyyyyy choose Big, Carrie, whyyyy?! Aidan was so kind and strong and hot and a craftsman for christ’s sake. You could have had solid oak furniture for life, you stupid bastard. That moment when Mr Big 'rescues' Carrie from Alexandr Petrovsky in Paris...I mean, please. And then his name is revealed to be 'John' after wondering for 6 seasons. Could they not have come up with something, anything else?!
TUTKU'S MOST ICONIC SATC MOMENT...
We’re at uni and it’s been interesting for me so far, because honestly, I’ve never been around this many white people before. We’re halfway through a course on making theatre politically, up to our eyes in post-colonial marxism, constantly discussing representation and SUPER into it. Like, we’re studying the most critical minds in the world and - OH FUCK IT SHALL WE HAVE A GIRLS NIGHT AND WATCH A BIT OF ‘SEX AND THE CITY’’ BEFORE WE GO OUT OUT?’. We’re 20 — there are other things we’re learning about too. Season 2, episode 1; there's a bit of awkwardness while we remember how ceaselessly sexual it is. Just before we get embarrassed, in total unison we scream along with Samantha, ‘IT’S ME. JAMES, AND HIS TINY PENIS!!!’. We laugh and laugh. Among those women are two I barely know, who, ten years later I’m inseparable from and as luck would have it, writing a sitcom with; a sitcom about three women from different sections of society — ethnically & financially — trying to live their best lives. A sitcom that will never ask it’s audience ‘forget your critical side and just laugh’, because Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are our big sisters and our privilege is learning from their mistakes.
AND MOST EYE ROLL-INDUCING MOMENT...
Carrie was consistently insufferable. Consistently.
SARAH'S MOST ICONIC SATC MOMENT
As a literal baby three-year-old, the debut of an American TV show on a channel we didn't have was low down on my 1998 list of priorities, but also ideal timing. Whatta snooze to wait every week for a new episode! Big thanks to the internet and socially acceptable binge watching, I first consumed all six seasons in one greedy summer. And every summer since. Absolutely no regrets.
Anna asking me choose a fave moment is frankly really rude, but it was always gonna be Carrie falling on the runway in Season 4. It's SUCH a trite metaphor, but I love it. At a time when the women are all single, the whole episode is a lesson in self-reliance and boring everyday bravery. We gotta pick ourselves up by our bejewelled knickers, and strut on - preferably to the sound of 'Got To Be Real'.
...AND MOST EYE ROLL-INDUCING MOMENT
God this show is problematic nowadays huh!? New York never looked so white. Carrie thinks bisexuality doesn't exist. Gay men are used as accessories. She uses a DIAPHRAGM. Other offences include Carrie being the most vanilla kink-shaming sex writer in the word, Carrie admitting she doesn't VOTE (ugh!), and any scene involving Big. #JusticeForAidan