3 Human Characteristics of Sex and the City

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In a recent interview about her new HBO show “Divorce,” Sarah Jessica Parker hinted that the rumors of a third Sex and the City movie are possibly true. We may have more SATC to absorb!

The writing in SATC was capable of boiling down essential human characteristics in such a witty and smart fashion that I still rely on them when trying to explain human constructs. I have been chewing through my archive of episodes (all of which are now available on Amazon Prime) to identify the essential episodes of the series. The following is my list of necessary episodes:

Season 1: Episode 10: The Baby Shower

Human Characteristic: Identity Developmental Milestones

The episode opens with a challenging invitation; the girls have been invited to a baby shower in the suburbs of Connecticut. The opening conflict, possible jealousy, is highlighted with Carrie’s line, “Let’s be honest, sometimes there is nothing harder in life than being happy for someone else.” Although Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha all feel unenthusiastic about attending a baby shower, they agree that it is worthwhile because it is being held for their old party-girl pal Laney- “She was supposed to have sex with Sid Vicious and move to heroin, not marry a banker and move to the suburbs.” They make their trek to the suburbs, and find themselves judging every person they see. All of these people have chosen a different life, and only Charlotte is really envious of their choice.

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As they find themselves bogged down by their own discomfort with suburbia, Miranda summarizes it well, “The witch in Hansel and Gretel, she’s very misunderstood. I mean, she builds her dream house and two kids come along to destroy it.” They escape back to the city, where Samantha celebrates her own fabulous life by throwing an “I’m not having a baby, let’s drink!” party. Laney arrives at the party, and tries to demonstrate that she is still the same person who they partied with all those years ago, and finds that she really has been changed by her migration to the suburbs.

Season 2: Episode 8: The Man, The Myth, The Viagra

Human Characteristic: Stories we tell ourselves about others

The episode opens with a strange situation, Carrie is actually in what appears to be a happy relationship with Mr. Big. Miranda has her doubts about the fact that they would actually be happy, and challenges Carrie to identify how things could have changed from their darker past. Charlotte, ever the optimist, presents a different situation, and the ladies realize that they are facing down some stories that they tell about relationships, dating urban legends: man leaves wife and they end up in Connecticut, or friend who dated man with commitment issues breaks up and he shows up with an engagement ring. Carrie summarizes, “Are we willing to believe anything to date?”

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Although I love this episode for the challenges to dating stories, I recommend this episode because of a subplot involving Samantha. In this episode, Samantha treats herself to a drink in a bar and meets a new man (Donald Trump has a cameo in this scene). She enjoys everything about this new man, with the exception of his age (70’s). She does her very best to enjoy his affection, while holding up some blinders to the large age discrepancy until she is hit with the reality of who he is: catching a vision of his nude rear end. She has to face the story that she has been telling herself, and realizes she can’t continue the fantasy. For me, it is a tremendous visual of the fact that the truth will eventually catch us. Lastly, Miranda spends much of this episode being extremely cynical about relationships, and we sweetly get to see Steve break through her harsh opinions about men; none of our stories are as true as we tend to think they are.

Season 3: Episode 7: Drama Queens

Human Characteristic: Attachment

In this episode, Carrie is in a great relationship with Aiden, but discovers that not having relationship struggles leaves her feeling less attached to him. She says, “What was wrong was, for the first time in my life, I was in a relationship where absolutely nothing was wrong.” It seems like a strange problem to have, but it is not that unusual of an experience. Our attraction to others can be dependent on my factors, and feeling that there is a possibility of scarcity or competition can increase the sense of intensity in connection. We have built a huge media business with the romantic story of the lovers who just can’t seem to make things work! Carrie determines that this process, for her, is the need for a “stomach flip.”

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In contrast, Miranda discovers that she is happy in a no-conflict relationship, while Charlotte decides that she needs to pursue marriage with the same intensity that she would apply to a job hunt. As they both discover that there are flaws to these approaches to attachment (fabulous scene involving skid marks!), we hit a core question, “So we need drama to make relationships work?” Carrie creates her own drama by demanding that Aiden become less available, and then discovers that her own need for drama can feel quite uncomfortable. This episode explains attachment and attraction in such unique ways, and offers great contrast across different degrees of relational dysfunction.

This is just a short catalogue of three essential episodes, but they highlight human behavior in a brilliant manner. Who knows where they will go with a third movie?

For more on Sex and the City, you can read more here.

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