52 Shows, 52 Weeks: #12 Sex and the City

I’m not a Sex and the City connoisseur. I’ve seen more episodes than I haven’t, but those appeared in my life out of order so it took me awhile to understand the story arcs. I never watched consistently or with any kind of fervor—though I have, somewhat inexplicably, seen both of the post-TV show movies.

Of course, SatC was always on my radar because it was a show with not just a female lead but also a female main cast. I never knew quite how to explain its importance, though, until very recently. In my Gender and Sexuality in Pop Culture class, we read an essay by Jane Gerhard called “Sex and the City: Carrie Bradshaw’s Queer Postfeminism.”

First of all, “postfeminism” isn’t a word I use often because it implies that feminism is over, that it has done all it can and should and now we’re in a blissful postfeminist era where equality flows like tap water from the faucets of civilization. However, Gerhard uses “postfeminism” to describe the way that Carrie and Co. benefit from the second wave of feminism, which made it possible for women to have independent lives with sustainable careers, not just jobs, and active sex lives not shrouded in shame and fear. The SatC gals (another word I don’t use) sit comfortably and proudly on the shoulders of the second-wavers, and they are indeed postfeminist because they aren’t really doing any new feminism of their own.

The most interesting aspect of Gerhard’s essay is her labeling of the relationship between Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda as “queer.” Their mutual intimacy, according to Gerhard, reduces boyfriends/partners/husbands to varying degrees of import. In this way, although the quartet’s relentless focus on finding a man remains tedious, it becomes obvious to viewers and to the characters themselves—sometimes—that they don’t need mates as much as they think they do because they have each other. The intimacy between the friends stops short of being gay because the women themselves aren’t gay, but it goes further than other female friendships in pop culture.

My favorite episode of SatC is the season six episode called “Splat!” It is the second or third to last episode of the entire series, depending on whether or not you consider the final episode, a two parter, as one episode or two. Either way, it’s there at the end, when a lot of shows are petering out and not putting forth their best work. That is not the case with “Splat!” This episode takes advantage of the six prior seasons’ cultivation of the friendship between these four women—but primarily here between Carrie and Miranda—and takes it on the open road to see what it can do.

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“Splat!” contains more than one conversation involving Billy Joel, puppies, that Michael Douglas-Paul McCartney hybrid called Mikhail Baryshnikov, and someone falling out a window, but that scene there is my favorite part because Miranda is not afraid to be petty in her dogged attempt to get Carrie to stay in New York. That’s the kind of friends they are.

I still don’t know exactly how I feel about Sex and the City, but I do know that I love Miranda. I always have. I know that it probably comes as shock to learn that she is my favorite character because 1) she is a lawyer, 2) she is slightly to moderately emotionally weird, 3) she has a cat, and 4) Cynthia Nixon is a lady-dater. SatC is not my idea of a perfect show, but Miranda is my idea of a perfect character. And “Splat!” is a perfect episode.