I binged Sex and the City for the first time ever and I had some thoughts
I couldn't help but wonder: would a late '90s comedy about the trials and tribulations of being single in New York have any bearing on my life?
Before last week, I had never watched Sex & the City.
I had seen parts of it, sure - a NSFW scene here, a brief interlude on Comedy Central while I was channel surfing there, but I had never watched it, season by season, episode by episode, from the start through to the very end.
Too young to enjoy it when it was airing and too old (I thought) to dive in in later life, SATC simply passed me by. Yet another TV show I failed to engage with but still knew pretty much everything about (The Wire, I'm looking at you), it seemed like Darren Starr's creation had been watched - and adored - by just about every woman in the Western world.
The characters, the theme song, the era defining question as to whether Carrie would ever end up with Mr Big and be truly happy - it was all embedded in my pop culture psyche. I had just never seen it. That was, until, now.
A brief post to Instagram Stories detailing my venture into the SATC world confirmed my suspicions - every woman in Ireland had seen Sex & the City before, and I was a pariah for failing to do so.
Settling down for the evening accosted by the familiar scratching of the HBO ident, I expected to engage solely with my laptop screen for a solid five minutes before resorting to scrolling aimlessly on my phone, cringing regularly at aged jokes, poor feminism, and lamenting conversations about the pains of small penises.
After all, this was what I had been warned of. It's good, but it's a little dated. It's great, but of it's time. It's my favourite show in the world, but you wouldn't get away with it now.
Instead I watched a first season that's charming, expertly written, and hilarious. I would spend time detailing the many reasons why this is (the dialogue, the episode format, the painful accuracy of it all), but you already know. You've seen it all before.
Sex & the City is entertaining, but as far as its first season goes, it's also got a firm grasp on the realities of female single-dom that much pop culture since has failed to replicate.
The full date debriefs over lunch with the gals. The hopeless romance present during every single relationship, no matter how short. The unspoken war between the singles and the couples (that was for some reason misguidedly compared by Carrie to The Troubles in Northern Ireland) - it's all there, and it's all still painfully relevant.
Had it not been for the intense focus on marriage and the humble longterm relationship meaning effectively nothing without it, I could've been fooled into thinking I was watching a TV show from 2021 - just without any of the diversity and the incorrect assumption that men just want sex all the time.
The anxieties that Charlotte is subjected to around her desire to get married but still remain an independent woman. The frustration Miranda experiences upon learning she wouldn't be her friends' first choice for a threesome.
The debates around whether women should ever have sex like a man, whether you lose a part of yourself when you enter into a couple, if having children means that you'll never have any kind of fun ever again. The fashion moments. Oh, the glorious fashion moments.
Samantha Jones would still be considered a controversial character today. Not for her questionable innuendos fired to unsuspecting waiters, but for the simple fact that she's a woman who enjoys a lot of sex, and is unashamed of that (a trait that I've been warned is lowkey condemned by Carrie in later seasons, but listen, we'll deal with that when we get there).
Still, as I prepared myself to dive into season two, questions remained: just how bad was the slut shaming going to get? Is Carrie ever going to break the fourth wall again? And how in God's name does she afford that apartment on a columnist's salary?
And just like that... I was hooked.