When I interviewed my friend (and one of many “big-girl-advice-givers”) Maura Kutner Walters a while back, she honed in on my love-hate relationship with Sex & the City perfectly when she summed up her own: “I expected to make enough money to live in a small but cozy one-bedroom and still have spare cash for shoes. I love Sex and the City, but I think it fostered some unhealthy delusions about Manhattan—and journalism, for that matter. My post-graduation reality could not have been less glamorous.”
I understood what she was saying instantly, and it’s only become more vivid—more REAL—with time. The other night, sitting around a bar table with three of my female friends, I jokingly slurred: “You guuuuuys, this is just like Sex and the City. But, like, without the sex…and the clothes…and the money.”
Prior to this moment, we had been at a happy hour specifically because we’re all pseudo-broke, which is to say not entirely devoid of cash, but always eerily close to it. I had received an anxious text message from my mother an hour before that, as she seems to nervously follow my spending in the manner one follows an extreme sport and keeps their fingers crossed for no concussions. Said-text pleaded with me to chill ‘le fuck’ out with my promiscuous spending during my one remaining week in New York City before vacation. She understandably wants to avoid mom-guilt overriding her better judgments and coaxing her into sending cash my way.
A few drinks later, though (always blame the tequila), we had justified going to one more bar, and ordering a meal there that, though not super pricey, wasn’t cheap either. That move, which would seem measly in the eyes of the SATC ladies, felt decidedly decadent. Whether or not it was worth it remains unknown, but we’ll definitely spend the rest of the week trying to really reign in our cash flow as a result.
Amidst all of this there was talk of our jobs, or lack thereof, none of which are worthy just yet of a Carrie Bradshaw. Her freelance writing money (an apparently inordinate, and thus impossible, sum) shits all over mine and then pees on it for good measure. Not to mention her closet brimming with top-tier designers and her expertly curated apartment, with it’s annoyingly perfect color palate and layout.
And then there are all those men (and women, as Samantha did have that brief lesbian phase). While the SATC ladies definitely dealt with their fair share of male-related confusion, and dated some capital-D dicks (all, inevitably, with huge actual dicks), the general onslaught of men in their lives was just totally unrealistic. My friends being equally attractive and smart (and, sure, I’m biased) has not led to the same carousel of men traipsing through our lives. Instead, we’re often left with the dregs of Tinder or some flaky guy with a nice face that we met out one night. There’s no cute being-picked-up-in-the-bakery-line scenario, or slipping and falling into the man of your dreams’ arms on a subway platform. And if there is, well you’re the exception, and you can just see yourself out.
No, the picture Sex and the City painted for us viewers was not one based at all in reality. I can’t really blame the show, after all it’s entertainment, not a guide for what to expect when you’re [not] expecting. But I can (and obviously will) overthink it, helping myself sleep at night by mocking its insane conception of young (and, eventually, less young) women living in the city. You win some, you lose some, and sometimes, when you’re the loser, it’s just really nice to pick on the people (even if they’re fictional) who are always going home with the gold.