The Right Coast

February 27, 2004
Miss Bradshaw Appears to Be Engaged
By Mike Rappaport

So Sex in the City went out with a bang and a whimper. Carrie Bradshaw unsurprisingly chose Mr. Big – make that John – over the Russian, who turned out to be a self-absorbed, status-hungry European. Big was down to earth. Paris is OK for vacations, but surely the show could no more end with Carry abandoning the City than with her giving up sex.

My overall evaluation of the final episode is that it was fine as a final episode, but not as good as the show’s regular episodes. It is hard to do a meaningful final episode, especially for a comedy – remember Seinfeld. Mary Tyler Moore did a good job. Sex in the City was pretty good, but not as good as Mary.

What was most interesting to me about the final episode is what it said about the show’s vision of modern women. Despite the show’s effort to portray its main characters as modern and free from the limits of the past, it is striking how much of the traditional patterns still remained. Most importantly, Carrie must choose between two alpha males – both rich and interesting. Indeed, their wealth matters a good deal, since Carrie is portrayed as pretty darn flighty, having spent what should have been a down payment on her apartment on 100 pairs of $400 shoes. Of course, the writers don’t allow her to get the money from Mr. Big; instead she receives it from her friend Charlotte.

Charlotte, however, is hardly an independent women. Charlotte got the money for the down payment, as well as her Fifth Avenue apartment, the old fashioned way, through a divorce settlement. She finds her new, rich husband in much the same way, marrying her divorce lawyer.

Carrie’s other two friends are bit less traditional. Miranda is a successful lawyer who is willing to marry a man who is “beneath her” socioeconomically. But even Miranda only begins to find real happiness through the sacrifices she makes for her baby and her family.

Samantha, the sex pot of the group (and that’s saying something), even finds love in the end. Of course, she finds it with a male model/actor, who is 20 years her junior. At first, I thought this was unrealistic, but upon reflection, I remembered that the first two of Clark Gable’s five wives were significantly older than he was. Still, as the Gable example suggests, I wouldn’t count on Samantha’s romance lasting very long. Surely not into his 30s and her 50s.

In the end, then, what can you say about the women of Sex in the City? All in all, they are smart, interesting women, but their sentiments, and the sentiments to which the writers appeal in their audience, have much in common with traditional women. In watching the final episode in which Carrie and her friends all find love and happiness at the same time, I was reminded of a Jane Austen novel, like Pride and Prejudice, where the book ends with the two smart sisters marrying rich and worthy husbands. The main difference is that Jane Austen’s heroines were virgins and Carrie and her friends are, er, not.