Monday, April 22, 2024

Sex and the City Redux

Claire Moses, As ‘Sex and the City’ Ages, Some Find the Cosmo Glass Half-Empty, NYTimes, April 13, 2024.

Twenty years since the series finale of “Sex and the City” aired, a new generation of television watchers has grown into adulthood. After all of the episodes were released on Netflix this month, media watchers wondered how the show — and Carrie’s behavior — might hold up for Gen Z.

Would they be able to handle the occasional raunchiness of the show, the sometimes toxic relationships? Were the references outdated? “Can Gen Z Even Handle Sex and the City?” Vanity Fair asked. (For its part, Gen Z seems to vacillate between being uninterested and lightly appalled about what they consider to be a period piece.)

The show had a very different effect on its longtime fans, many of them a generation or two older. When it aired, “Sex and the City” changed the conversation around how women dated, developed friendships and moved about the world in their 30s and 40s.

Even if some of the show’s character arcs aged poorly, many of its original fans still relate to Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, no matter how unrealistic it may have been to live on the Upper East Side with a walk-in closet full of Manolo Blahniks on the salary of a weekly newspaper columnist.

What Candace Bushnell thinks:

“There was a romance to dating that younger women tell me doesn’t really exist anymore,” Bushnell said in a phone interview. “Now internet dating and using dating apps — it feels more like a job.”

For Carrie and her friends, dating is more of a pastime: They meet men at gallery openings, cocktail parties, book launches, a Yankees game, the gym, and more. The four of them also have weekly brunches and endless cocktails where they dish about their latest exploits.

Bushnell, who is touring her one-woman show “True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City,” said that the show gave people a new way of looking at their romantic lives.

The test of time is a hard one to pass, and the show’s record is far from perfect. But its frank discussions of sex and gendered expectations seemed to open doors for other shows after it, including “Girls” and “Insecure,” and helped change the image of single women in their 30s.


For longtime fans who are now Carrie’s age or older, the show has gone from aspirational to relatable to recognizable — again, minus those hundreds of pairs of stilettos.

Watching the show now, Marta Barberini, 37, said, “you’re not talking about your future self; you’re talking about your present self.”

See my earlier Media Notes post: The Seven Year Itch, Mad Men, Sex and the City [Media Notes 117].

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