5 Unexpected Life Lessons From a First ‘Sex and the City’ Watch

5 Unexpected Life Lessons From a First ‘Sex and the City’ Watch

5 Unexpected Life Lessons From a First ‘Sex and the City’ Watch

Adapted from Candace Bushnell‘s book and newspaper column from The New York Observer with the same name, the romantic comedy-drama series Sex and the City aired on HBO from 1998 to 2004. It follows the tumultuous love (and sex) lives of New York City sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her best friends — Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte York (Kristin Davis).

There’s a reason it ranked fifth on TV Insider’s 50 Best HBO Shows: “It was groundbreaking, iconoclastic TV, and one of the big reasons to get HBO in the late ’90s. Its influence on pop culture can’t be understated, and lackluster movies, spinoffs, and changing attitudes can’t dim the zsa zsa zsu of its original run.” The hit show depicted an array of challenges that still resonate 20 years after the series ended such as promiscuity, infidelity, infertility, abortion, and even death while offering a glimpse into the highs and lows of the New York City dating scene. But throughout all of the breakups, makeups, and shakeups, the one thing that remained constant throughout the series’ run was the women’s friendship. SATC may seem like a fluffy, shallow show to outsiders. But to those of us who watched and loved it, we know its themes are much deeper than surface level. So strap on your Manolo Blahniks and take a walk down memory lane to (re)learn five unexpected life lessons from the show that still resonate today.

1. Being Single ≠ Being Lonely

In the Season 5 premiere, “Anchors Away,” Carrie is newly single after breaking off her engagement to Aidan Shaw (John Corbett) and alone since Mr. Big (Chris Noth) has just moved to Napa. After talking to a sailor at a party, Carrie says in a voiceover, “If Louis is right, and you only get one great love, New York City may just be mine. And I can’t have nobody talking s*h*t about my boyfriend.” Though she goes home alone that night, Carrie knows that she is not lonely. So often, women over the age of 30 are demonized for being single and childless. It seems like it is our duty to get married and if we don’t, it’s our fault. But after watching Carrie embrace the single life and calling the city her great love, audiences at home can realize that self love is the greatest love of all. Just because you are alone, it doesn’t mean you’re lonely. Like Carrie says, “Maybe you have to let go of who you were, to become who you will be.” Sometimes, the way to become who you will be is by finding out who you are without a partner, and that’s more than okay.

2. There’s Power in Vulnerability

In between the lust and love of SATC, the series also deals with loss. When Miranda’s mother dies in Season 4 Episode 8 “My Motherboard, My Self,” Miranda has a hard time showing her emotional side during her stages of grief. Instead of using a healthy outlet to cope with her emotions, Miranda yells at a retail worker while shopping for a black funeral dress. She obviously isn’t angry at the retail worker but rather is using anger to cover up the fact that she’s in a state of shock. She does a good job at keeping herself composed until the day of her mother’s funeral where she breaks down in tears. She finally lets out all of her pent-up emotions and leans on the girls for support. At this point in the show, Miranda is single without a family of her own. But with Carrie’s arms wrapped around her as well as Samantha and Charlotte’s emotional support, Miranda realizes they are her family. We learn that you don’t need to share DNA to be a family and there is strength in being vulnerable.

3. You Don’t Have to Conform to Society’s Ideals of a Woman

Samantha puts the “sex” in Sex and the City. Out of the four friends, she is the most open about her sexuality and unashamed about her promiscuity. She has the unwavering confidence and magnetism to pull off famous quotes such as, “I will not be judged by you or society. I will wear whatever, and blow whomever I want, as long as I can breathe and kneel.” She doesn’t agree with nor feel pressure to get married and have children despite society’s deeply ingrained messages that women should do so. During a time when talking so freely about sex is still taboo, Samantha is a revolutionary character for proving that women can engage in casual sex just like men. Additionally, she shows women that you can be in your 40s and be happy with just yourself.

4. A Woman Is Worth More Than Her Uterus

Throughout the last half of the series, Charlotte struggles with infertility, a battle millions of women continue to face. Though it is heartbreaking to watch Charlotte fail to conceive with both of her husbands again and again, we admire her for not giving up on what she wants most: a baby. She finally gets her miracle when she adopts a daughter with her second husband, Harry Goldenblatt (Evan Handler), in the series finale. However, it’s important to note that before that, Charlotte, understandably, deals with depression. Fortunately, she eventually finds happiness with her dog, Elizabeth Taylor, and with her friends and their accomplishments. When a woman is infertile, it can be difficult to feel like a “real woman” since the world has placed so much of our worth on whether or not we have children. But Charlotte always knows her worth regardless of her ability to reproduce. Being a one-in-a-million kind of woman, Charlotte has said, “I’m worth a million.” We are all worth a million.

5. Support Your Loved Ones With Courage in the Face of Adversity

When Samantha is diagnosed with breast cancer in SATC‘s last season, her confident spirit slowly dwindles. Though she puts on a good façade by wearing various and fun wigs, she is never the same spunky woman we all know her to be. Chemotherapy causes her hair to fall out, so she takes back control of her body by shaving her head altogether. Though she fears her partner, Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis), will lose attraction to her since she has no hair, it turns out she has nothing to worry about. In an act of solidarity in Season 6 Episode 16 “Out of the Frying Pan,” Smith shaves his golden locks so Samantha won’t feel self-conscious anymore. It’s the ultimate act of love. As Carrie puts it, “That night, Smith gave Samantha the very best head of her life.” When it comes to supporting your loved ones, the smallest act of nobility makes the biggest difference.

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