In honor of the new “Sex and the City” reboot, I decided to re-watch the old seasons, ones I had only really seen growing up if my mom had them on, or as background noise for day to-day tasks. Four women with powerful jobs, incredible wardrobes, and regularly scheduled luxurious meals together set the scene in every episode. Yet, the main conflict always remained the same — their relationships with men. These women were lawyers, PR professionals, writers, and art dealers. Their careers were never at the forefront of the plot. Understanding that the premise of the show was to examine the dating life of women in their 30’s, this was an alarming commonality among television programs geared toward women in the 1990’s. In the reboot, we are beginning to see a shift in the way their stories are told; they are more relatable, more productive and more realistic.
It is human nature to enjoy a guilty pleasure program. “Sex and the City” maintains all the qualities to be just that. Sex (of course), drama, and comedic relief flood each episode, making it a perfect “stay-at-home with a tub of ice cream” show. However, a series like this can have greater implications when analyzed. Including the careers of these women would appear to enhance the show beyond the surface level of dating in one’s 30’s. It previously did not offer that. So, why include it?
Including pieces of a character’s life tends to add a relatable element. There have been plenty of shows where one asks: How do they afford this lifestyle? How do they pay rent? How expensive are their clothes? In “Sex and the City” those questions were able to be answered. The question of how it added to their stories, though, remained a mystery. Four women, with jobs that people study years to achieve and work endless hours to move up in, appears to be empowering. Yet, they always seemed helpless, confused, and heartbroken in the midst of these incredible career paths.
Carrie Bradshaw, the main character, was a column writer for the New York Observer. Every piece she wrote was the centerpiece for the episode, and always talked about each of their struggles with dating men.
Female writers, in the real world, are people I look up to most. It takes grace, guts, and a sense of determination to be able to write in a society full of criticism and robust opinion. A fictional character, like Bradshaw, does not accurately portray most female writers. Granted, the basis of the column was to discuss dating, but when watching, I would tend to get lost between fiction and reality. I began to ask myself: Is this all we really talk about as women?
Today, I even find many of the conversations I have with other women discussing our struggles with men. I have friends going to law school, friends with accounting jobs lined up, and friends who are studying to become doctors. When we gather over a cup of coffee or on a FaceTime call, we have a tendency to push all of that to the side and bring up which guy texted us late on Saturday night.
It is no wonder a show like “Sex and the City” succeeded. It was an escape from the idea of work and stress, much like a cup of coffee with a friend. However, our careers, our personal emotions, and our successes are much more telling of who we are than a date we have lined up next week.
In the reboot “And Just Like That” we can see a major shift from what “Sex and the City” used to be while still maintaining its sense of comedic relief and female focus. It delves into death, gender identity, and race. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Kristin Davis shared her view on the new scope of the show.
“We didn't want people to have the same expectations when obviously it's a different time, it's a different show that speaks to now.”
This is even part of the reason for the name change. The show is no longer just about the sex lives of thirty-somethings in New York. It is about how they feel and how they’ve grown. As a woman growing up in an era that is pushing toward equality, this reboot spoke to me more in ten episodes than six seasons of “Sex and the City” ever had.
As I continue to consume television media, I hope to see this same change. Women are more complex than what we have portrayed them to be for years. Women are strong, capable, and beautiful — they experience much more than dinner and a movie in their daily lives.
Next time I sit down with a tub of ice cream, I hope to feel empowered by the time the female television episode ends.