In the city of New York, with over 8 million people, Sex and the City was set as the ultimate sex-positive, female-targeted show. With the first series 25 years old this year, I can’t help but wonder- could it be the most iconic tv show of all time?
When Carrie Bradshaw first strutted onto our screens in 1998, it was ground-breaking. Written by Darren Star and Michael Patrick King, both gay men, in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis of the 80s and early 90s, Sex and the City dared to breach the subject of sex and show it in an empowering light. It spoke of the “age of un-innocence” and
shone a light on the reality of dating as a mid-30s woman, in a society that appeared to be missing a space for romance and functioned with the primary male ideology of self-protection above anything else.
With the fantastic four of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, we were able to experience these dating escapades from four different perspectives- optimistic, cynical, traditional hopeless romantic, and sexually free. We sit with their witty conversation in many restaurants as they discuss different relationship quandaries. With each episode exploring a new phenomenon, we could see the group tackle different issues, with season 1 discussing women having sex like men, the power of beauty, settling for what you can get, the mysteries of monogamy and threesomes as a new sexual frontier, among other issues.
It wouldn’t be right to discuss season 1 without mentioning the men who star in it. Carrie’s friend Skipper who dates Miranda provides a romantic outlook to the dating scene, one that realist Miranda appears to lack. Carrie’s best friend Stanford Blanch provides a refreshing perspective of love in New York’s gay community, complete with dashing male models. In episode 1 we meet Mr Big, a notorious bachelor Carrie spends the entire series pursuing, with their relationship in constant fluctuation. When we meet him, we see what Carrie sees in him, charming and funny, successful yet relatable to Carrie, and devilishly handsome- perhaps her perfect match. This perfect man makes him all the more wanted by Carrie and intrigues us further.
The late 90s’ in New York appeared to be a fashionable place to be, with the girls, especially Carrie flaunting some fabulous looks in season 1. Carrie gives us the ultimate 90s inspo with tiny sunglasses, tube tops and colourful spaghetti strap dresses. However, the most famous of season 1’s looks is episode 6’s Naked Dress, and while personally I am not a fan, it is hard to argue against the tight logic that Carrie wearing it on her and Big’s first date resulted in them sleeping together- an event that even Carrie blames the dress for. Noticeably absent from the show’s style is the mention of heels. While it is in this season that we are introduced to Carrie’s love of shoes, her favourite brand Manolo Blahnik’s go unmentioned, however this is certainly made up for in later seasons.
The episode that sticks out to me the most is episode 10, The Baby Shower. It is here that, when faced with attending the baby shower of an old party-loving acquaintance, we see the girl gang band together to cope with an abundance of mothers who appear to only talk babies. The underlying issue is Carrie worrying she is pregnant, but this is overshadowed by Miranda and Samantha’s light-hearted tone- their sarcastic comments truly steal the show. We see the ultimate girl power move when Charlotte accuses the mother-to-be of stealing her baby name and Samantha, upon hearing this, swears at her and orders all four of them to leave immediately. We are reminded
again of the show’s comedic spirit when at the end of the episode, the expecting mother crashes a party, stands on the table and offers to show everyone her boobs- reminiscent of her old party days. Thankfully, in a quick moment of reflection, she decides she can’t, with Carrie then comparing her to a dog with an electric fence that can’t go any further. Like with the rest of the show, you’re always guaranteed a sharp-witted comment to keep topics light and to add the com into the rom-com genre.
Season 1 went on to inspire 5 more seasons, straying from author Candace Bushell’s newspaper-column-turned-book-series. The show has been deemed so iconic, it was brought back for a sequel show And Just Like That… in 2021, showing the women in their 50s dealing with their relationships in the same witty, un-innocent manner.
And just like that I realised, Sex and the City braves the terrifying feet of bringing sexual topics to the public, complete with interesting characters, witty conversation, and a fabulous fashion sense. It is no wonder that 25 years later it is still kicking.
Season 2 of And Just Like That… is streaming now.
Watch the trailer below, via Max: