I watched ‘Sex and the City’ in high school. I might’ve even sneaked glances at the show when it originally aired in 1998-2004 as a curious pre-teen. For years, I referred to it as my all-time favorite show. But only when I binge watched the series in my mid-twenties did the show finally start to resonate with me. Here’s what Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw, and Manhattan taught me about life.
Every group of friends has a Carrie Bradshaw
I can’t tell you exactly what episode I was watching when it hit me, but Carrie Bradshaw is a pretty shitty friend. When Miranda has her baby, she continues working full-time as a lawyer and ends up so tired she falls asleep while talking on the phone to Carrie—who’s so self-absorbed she can’t stop talking about her own book review in the New York Times. “Oh my god, listen to me going on and on … when you have real problems,” Carrie says. But then, “So can I obsess for another minute?”
Chances are pretty good that we’ve all got a Carrie Bradshaw in our lives. A friend we really do love and appreciate, but who’s also self-centered, vain, and has a very messy relationship history. The one we have to hide in alleyways with when an ex walks down the street, but who will also be there for us no matter what. The one we have to send to a therapist because she won’t stop talking about Mr. Big.
Lesson here is, when it comes to friendships, everyone’s human—take the good with the bad.
Designer outfits and credit card limits don’t a rich woman make
When Carrie goes to apply for a loan so she can buy her apartment back from Aiden after they break up, the bank tells her she has $700 in checking $957 in savings. (“I just paid my credit card bill!” Carrie says by way of explanation.) Property? Stocks? Bonds? Nope, she has nothing. She’s a minor celebrity columnist in Manhattan who can get into most restaurants but doesn’t even have a grand in her savings.
I get that she’s living in one of the country’s most expensive cities, but a wallet full of maxed-out credit cards and a closet full of Manolo Blahnik’s don’t keep you warm at night. (They may keep your feet warm, but not the point.) It’s better to live within your means in case of emergencies, like your Upper East Side brownstone going co-op.
Just accept who you are and other people will accept you for it too
Carrie is a city girl. Charlotte may still long for Connecticut country clubs, but Carrie is Manhattan, though and through. When Aiden wants to take her to his cabin in the country, Carrie tries to put on a brave face (and a pair of overalls) and embrace it. If he loves it so much, she can too.
Faking it results in a lot of screaming about squirrels and a burnt leg from a dropped pie pan. “I hate… this!” Carrie screams in the middle of the country house’s kitchen. And what does Aiden say? “Thank you.”
Finally admitting that the country isn’t where she belongs leads to compromise—the relationship holy grail. “Maybe from now on I should just come up on the weekends,” she says. “Yeah, or every other weekend,” Aiden suggests. Compromise. And then sex on the kitchen counter.
When people won’t make room for you in their lives, they don’t want you there
Carrie’s relationship struggles with Mr. Big are like a very bumpy roadmap for women in the dating world, and it can apply to friendships, too. If someone refuses to make you a priority, there’s a reason, and it’s usually not a good one. When Mr. Big unexpectedly tells Carrie in the middle of their relationship that he might have to move to Paris for work, he doesn’t take her into consideration at all.
“I’ve been thinking about this. We can make this work, we can,” Carrie insists. “We’ll do le phone sex, and if things get really bad, then I’ll move to Paris for a while and write Le Sex and the City.”
“But you’d be moving to Paris for yourself, right?” Mr. Big clarifies. “I mean, don’t move to Paris for me.”
The big takeaway: don’t cross oceans for someone who wouldn’t cross a puddle for you.
Live your life without judging other people’s lifestyles
When Carrie attends a baby shower at a friend’s house, guests are required to take off their shoes at the door, basically so the kids don’t eat the dirt they track in off the floor—ew. Carrie is reluctant to take them off (“This is an outfit,” she explains), and when does, she discovers they’re gone when she goes to leave.
“No offence Carrie, but I really don’t think we should have to pay for your extravagant lifestyle,” the host says after she offers to pay for the shoes but then finds out what they cost—nearly $500.
There’s two sides of the coin here, because it’s obvious that Carrie has no understanding of this woman’s lifestyle with her homes, husband, and two children with one on the way. And we already know Carrie isn’t good with her finances. But none of that gives the friend the right to tell Carrie that she doesn’t have a “real life” because she spends $500 on a pair of shoes.
Whether you choose to make a family or make a wardrobe, your life is your life.
Don’t get drunk at work after a bad review
No matter how nasty your editor is, don’t drink one-and-a-half martinis in the middle of the day at the Vogue offices on an empty stomach. Because you will end up in the accessories closet with the your half-naked mentor.
The actual lesson here is, don’t let a bad review get you down. “I’m drunk and a failure at Vogue,” Carrie declares, sloshing her martini on the rug after an editor tears her freelance article apart. “I came in here today so cocky. I thought I knew it all. I had my man jokes and my purse puns. And you heard her! What do I know about purses? Nothing. What do I know about men?”
Carrie knows she knows about men and purses; she writes about men in her column and fashion is her first love. But the Vogue editor who makes her article draft bleed with so many red marks is actually doing her a favor—she’s pushing her to be better. After help from her mentor (his clothes are still on at this point) and a few more revisions, Carrie writes a much better, more Vogue-appropriate piece.
The magazine even continues to hire her as a freelance writer after that.