Sex and the City, created by Darren Star, revolves around four women: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, is a sex columnist searching for herself and love. Charlotte, played by Kristin Davis, dreams of living the perfect Upper East Side lifestyle with the perfect husband and family. Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, is a hard working lawyer striving for success. Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall, is a strong independent woman who flaunts her sexuality every second of every day. These four women are on the hunt to find their soulmates and success in New York City. Friends, lovers, men, women, fashion trends, and apartments come and go throughout the series, but the women always have each other.
This HBO show, which aired between 1998 and 2004, became so popular because the women were so relatable. Maybe their lifestyles were a bit extravagant, but their issues adhere to women everywhere.
One of the most relatable parts of Sex and the City is the friendship between Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Women want to be these women and have the same friendship they have. While all these women identify as straight, there are moments throughout the series that show gender and sexuality are on a spectrum. Samantha’s first significant relationship during the series is with a woman named Maria which helps Sam realize sex is not just an animalistic act. Charlotte befriends a group of lesbians and learns that her life should not revolve around men and sex. Carrie dates a bisexual man and has her first sexual encounter with a woman. Miranda plays with normative gender roles through her work and relationships and eventually realizes that she does not fit into the gendered version of woman, wife, or mother. Charlotte dresses in drag for art and finds the self-confidence within herself she had been lacking.
All of these experiences queer the gendered role of “woman”. These moments show the audience that gender and sexuality are not black and white concepts, but that there are shades of gray in between and we all fall somewhere along that scale. Because Sex and the City is a show that millions of women relate to, seeing the characters sliding around this spectrum helps viewers to understand and accept their own gender and sexuality, whatever it may be.
The experiences these women have with each other all fall along the lesbian continuum created by Adrienne Rich. Rich states, “I mean the term lesbian continuum to include a range – through each woman’s life and throughout history – of woman-identified experience, not simply the fact that a woman has had or consciously desired genital sexual experience with another woman.” The continuum ranges from friendship to sex. Adrienne Rich describes “the bonding against the male tyranny” as part of the lesbian continuum, which pretty much sums up the friendship between the four women. Two of the most famous quotes from Sex and the City are:
“Don’t laugh at me, but maybe we could be each other’s soulmates? And then we could let men be just these great nice guys to have fun with?”
“We made a deal ages ago. Men, babies, it doesn’t matter. We’re soulmates.”
They realize that men come and go and that it is their relationship with each other that truly matters; no matter what happens to any of them, as long as they have the bonds with each other, they are fine. Some other events from Sex and the City that Adrienne Rich would consider to fall along the lesbian continuum include: holding hands, going on a honeymoon together, discussing who of the four of them they would have a threesome with, Samantha helping Carrie retrieve her diaphragm, watching porn together, shopping for lingerie together, and Carrie helping Miranda give birth. The love for each other is so powerful. These experiences that lie between friendship and sex fall somewhere along Rich’s Lesbian Continuum.
Although Sex and the City is almost 20 years old, it plays on tv every single day. This show is still relevant decades later, not because of the relationships between the women and men, but because of the friendships and relationships the women have with each other. These bonds and connections leave a much longer lasting impression. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte push the boundaries of what it means to be a “woman” and help viewers realize that you do not have to fall into one category or the other, you just have to be yourself.