Flipping through the channels this weekend, I came across a Season Five episode of Sex and the City. For the first time, I realized that I was truly going to miss the show when it’s done this summer. I honestly hadn’t given it much thought as it was way down on the list of favorite shows bowing out this year (Dawson’s Creek, Oz, Buffy) and, while I’ve watched it from the start – the past couple of years have been lacking. Carrie’s constant tugging away from Aidan became tiring, as did Charlotte’s ridiculous marriage. Even Samantha’s bed-hopping wasn’t enough to raise a bemused eyebrow. And while there was nothing really wrong or out of character per se with Miranda, it was as if the writers no longer knew what to do with her. Knew what to do with any of them, really. Sex and the City was no longer appointment television – it was simply something to catch if I had stumbled across one of my many HBOs.
I was once taught that in television, people watch a show for a favorite actor. Then, they’ll stick around if the characters are relatable. The actual stories come last in the line of compelling reasons to come back week-to-week. I think this is a fairly good assessment of my personal viewing habits – and why I stopped watching Sex and the City faithfully. It certainly wasn’t the uninspired stories of the third and fourth seasons that pulled me in. Sure there were some good eps, but overall the series went through a major slump. After time, it was a stretch to find anything relatable with any of the girls. Samantha’s sex-positive attitude morphed into something cartoonish and over the top as they tried harder and harder to shock the audience. Charlotte and Trey’s marital problems would have been more convincing if the writers ever took the time to make you think they were in love, much less loved each other. I’ve always considered myself a cross between Carrie and Miranda, favoring my bitter-cynical tendencies. But Carrie’s behavior with Aidan and Big only irritated me while Miranda’s storylines simply bored me. After a while, it wasn’t enough to tune in to see either one of them.
Yet something turned towards the end of Season Four and continued into Season Five. The girls finally faced some “consequences,” which had been sorely missed in seasons before. Previously, they hopped from relationship to relationship, from situation to situation without giving much thought to how their actions affected other people: Carrie slept with a married Mr. Big, watched his wife fall down the stairs and still got Aidan back after confessing her infidelity; Charlotte married a man – played by Kyle McLachlan – who seemed ideal on paper but was as enticing as a wet sock (which saddened me because, hello, Agent Cooper was superhot). Miranda broke up with a guy who she cared about because she couldn’t adjust her image of how her life was supposed to look. Samantha, well, Samantha did everybody and almost anybody.
But now Carrie is dealing with the aftermath of her breakup with Aidan: potentially losing her apartment, hearing the assessment of their relationship by third parties and her ensuing loneliness. She’s had love and while it may not have been perfect for her, she doesn’t want to settle for a random guy to fuck. And Samantha has slowed down the revolving door in her bedroom for one man, fighting the battle of vulnerability the whole time. She lost, and while she decided to walk away from the relationship in the end, she’s become a far more interesting person for her journey.
Miranda, who chose to continue her pregnancy, has realized that life won’t continue on as it always had – and that she needs to accept that she’s not an autonomous unit and can’t continue to act as if she were. Where she could leave Steve for not ‘fitting into’ the vision she had for her life, she can’t leave her son. Miranda’s learned asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I said above that I tend to identify with Miranda a bit too closely at times, and it’s only now that I can see that her relationship with Steve mirrors my relationship with my ex. I’ll spare the gory details and just say that I’ll be watching the last episodes with a renewed interest in their dance.
In the season finale, Carrie’s supposedly gay friend marries a socialite in a Minelli/Gest affair. There are rumors flying left and right about the wedding, but it’s obvious that the newlyweds connect in a way that they’d never done with anyone else. Perfect love doesn’t exist because the world is filled with imperfect people, and it’s far more important to find the person that gives you the ‘zsa zsa zsu.’ Does that mean that Carrie will end up with her new flirtation, Jack Berger? Or that Charlotte will find her match in the repulsive Harry? Only time will tell – although I have to admit that I’m a fan of the declaration that the four are each other’s soulmates (a theme so beautifully addressed in the Dawson’s Creek finale).
I will miss the Sex and the City girls. While I’ve never really gotten emotionally obsessed with the show like others (Big vs. Aidan = don’t really care), I’ve certainly grown quite attached to it. They have given me a lot of laughs and they have given me things to ponder, but not so much to make my head hurt. They are the friends you can say anything to, because you know they’ve probably done far worse. Or perverted. Or both. They are the kind of friends who love you no matter what the person in the mirror says – and I’m glad to have had them as long as I did.