Sex and the City hit our screens like a blast of Mademoiselle in early 1999, and suddenly the real internal life of women — the chats in the loos about who’s really fit, the late night wine-fuelled discussions about whether it was time to have a baby (and whether ohmigod, you were having one by mistake) and what the latest ruling was on sleeping with married men — became public property.
It was ok and cool to be a career girl and even cooler to be in charge of one’s own sexual and emotional destiny.
Men, move over, this was a serious attempt to have it all decades after Cosmo founder Helen Gurley Brown coined the phrase. This TV show influenced our style, our language (good and bad), our shoes and even our lives. Candace Bushnall’s take on contemporary mores caught the glitz, shallowness, excitement, moral equivalence and boundless optimism of the millennium.
Academics even got in on the act with one Swedish researcher, a Ms Bygg (really), looking into gender and swearing in the show.
Mainly, though, the series slipped down as easily as the Cosmopolitans they drank, and inevitably spawned movies, the second of which places the gang in Abu Dhabi and is showing at a cinema near you this week.
We asked four local women-about-town whether they saw themselves as Carrie, Samantha, Miranda or Charlotte.
‘I identify with Charlotte’
Cathy Martin (36), FashionWeek director and PR consultant, lives in Helen’s Bay and is married with three stepchildren, Sasha (15), Johnny (11) and Elisa (10). She says:
Oh, I’m a total fan. I have the boxed set and saw the last SATC movie five or six times. I suppose we all want to be Carrie, but I am not Belfast’s answer to her character. In a way, I feel like all four of them, partly because I love the show so much. It’s the only TV programme I’ve ever related to.
I love Samantha and her attitude to life, but don’t like the fact that her character is so sexualised. There’s a wee prim and proper side to me like Charlotte which forces me to get the matching table napkins out. Then again, in some ways I am like Miranda, who’s really hard working.
It’s a very well-written show and speaks to all of us, to single twentysomethings, hardworking thirtysomethings and people who do and don’t want to get married.
My favourite SATC moment would have to be when Carrie and Mr Big are in the new apartment he ends up buying for her.
They have this falling out, then she goes back and finds the wardrobe she’s always wanted and it’s a bit of a fairytale ending, but believable.
After their ordinary marriage, they have a New York breakfast.
SATC both holds us back and moves things forward for women. There is female emancipation, with characters like Samantha doing what men do and women being seen as sexual beings who want to get married too.
My favourite quotes are Samantha’s innuendo lines, which are very funny but have lots of rude words.
If I absolutely had to choose, I’d say most of the time I’m like Charlotte.”
‘I’m a bit cynical like Miranda’
Davina Sands (30) edits Eve magazine, is single and lives in the centre of Belfast. She says:
Yes, yes, yes! I’m totally a fan. I’ve grown up with Sex and the City and remember trying to watch it when I was living at home, and my parents wouldn’t let me.
Although I’ve always empathised quite a bit with Carrie, and can’t get enough of the show, watching episodes over and over, I think the way all the characters discuss things, like sex, helps the rest of us. A lot of women are prudish, and this gives us a chance to get real.
In a way, SATC shows women as shallow. They’re city women, living the life, and it is all about fashion but when I go to the movies, I don’t want to see something depressing about world destruction or even something ordinary. I want gorgeous frothy escapism.
At Eve, we’re so keen on SATC we’ve organised a special showing of the movie at the Odeon on Friday, with pre-film cocktails and free entry to the after-show party at Rain Nightclub*. There are issues we can all relate to, about Charlotte who can’t have a baby and Miranda having a baby after a one-night stand. If you like, it has the drama plus the shoes.
My favourite moment is hard to choose. I loved it when Mr Big goes to Paris to get Carrie, and the episode where Charlotte learns she can adopt a baby.
Plus when Miranda meets Steve on Brooklyn Bridge, which is so emotional.
Like Miranda, I’ve got red hair and the dress I’m wearing is something she could wear. She’s a very strong woman and quite career-minded and cynical, and I suppose I’m a bit cynical too. She tries to ground Carrie when she says she’s going to Paris and tells her not to go. I look at my friends sometimes when I think they’re making bad decisions, and have a Miranda moment.”
Tickets £15, tel 9072 6012
‘Carrie shares my style’
Sinead Doyle (27) edits Go Belfast, is single and lives in Belfast. She says:
Although I don’t look like Carrie, there are definitely some similarities. She’s successful, driven but at the same time doesn’t sacrifice her relationship with her friends. She pursues her career without losing sight of her personal life.
Sex and The City, and Carrie in particular, show that you can have a career, relationships, fun and friends — you can have it all, it’s just a question of balance.
Having lived in Belfast for four years, I’ve seen a cosmopolitan attitude and energy develop here, with a great social and entertainment scene — if SJP and the girls were to pay a visit here, I'm confident their well-heeled feet would be found teetering around one of Belfast's cocktail bars.
I got into SATC in the first series. It’s every girl’s formative experience, with fashion and girly fun. Also the talking about men ...
It’s girl or women power.
Unlike Carrie, I don’t have a Mr Big and I’m not sure I’d want one. In the last film, it worked out well for her but there have been other men. What happens to her is of avid interest.
And then there’s her style. With Sarah Jessica Parker the stylists have engineered a new interest. Carrie and I have certain style connections. Shoes are for me a personal addiction. A girl can never have too many shoes.
My favourite moment is when Carrie was in Paris and met the French girls who recognised her from her book, then through loyalty to the man, Alex Petrovski, went to his exhibition. She ended up at the restaurant finding her book with wine stains on.
It’s empowering because it reminds you that although men come and go, friends are always there.
'I am strong like Samantha’
Pamela Ballantine (51) a broadcaster and the Belfast Telegraph’s social columnist,and is going out with businessman Alan Graham. She says:
Since I did a SATC quiz on the internet, which said ‘Are you Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte etc?’ I know I’m Samantha. Something to do with cocktails and members of the opposite sex!
I was a bit shocked — after all, she’s often described as a slapper — but also amused, and maybe a bit pleased. In the very first episode, Samantha is shown as a strong businesswoman with her own business who takes no nonsense. I’m at an age to relate to that and to her style.
I do love Sex and the City and watch re-runs on Comedy Plus. As for Carrie — I never get tired of putting pitchforks into her. She’s so needy and irritating, while Samantha is the glue that keeps them all together. When Carrie had a lovely boyfriend, she only went and took his apartment apart. D’oh! Whereas all Samantha needed was a man to come and close her curtains when she had flu, then go home.
Since the first movie came out, I’ve been in a relationship so I look at life in a different way. But in the past it worked, being chatted up by blokes. In terms of SATC lines, I think ‘That blouse is stunning and would look lovely on a bedroom floor’ is a classic and typically male. Bless them.
There are so many favourite moments. When Samantha left her relationship with Smith Jerrod and had an encounter with her ex, that was nice.
I love the clothes, although they go a bit OTT. Charlotte’s big swirly skirts are great but I’m also a fan of Samantha’s power dressing.
SATC tells it like it is. As Samantha said at her interview, when double standards were applied, ‘If I were a bloke, you’d shake my hand and give me the job’. But she held it together until she got into the lift, then burst into tears.