The Right Ending Sending the Wrong Message?
Thursday August 1, 2013

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Last week’s New Yorker contained an article that certainly caught my attention and prompted me to look at Sex and the City with even more understanding, appreciation and a quandary. Written by Emily Nussbaum “Difficult Women: How ‘Sex and the City’ Lost Its Good Name”, the question is raised why it has been so dismissed and trivialized since it has gone off the air.

Nussbaum analytically looks at each of the characters symbolically pointing out observations that the virgin eye may miss if watching the censored versions on TBS or Style, and then raises a question at the end that gave me pause.

Who would Carrie have been if Big was not directed to rescue her? And why don’t we allow female characters to stand strongly on their own in the finale – especially when the premise of the show is about friendships?

Do have a read and share your thoughts. I’m curious to hear your reaction and response. Feel free to share in the comments below or on Facebook.


~24 Lessons Learned from Sex and the City

~Choose Yourself

15 thoughts on “The Right Ending Sending the Wrong Message?

  1. Well, Emily also discusses the epitome of excellence in TV, The Sopranos. I was never a SITC girl. The episode where slutbag tried to seduce a priest turned me off, I never watched again. The movies are silly X10. Could anyone be as shallow-minded as Charlotte? I don’t know, I just thought it wasn’t interesting at all. But, I LOVE Big, and any character that actor plays.

  2. I’m going to be completely honest here. Sorry if I offend any hard core SATC fans.

    The only reason why I watched SATC were for the fashion and the occasional laugh. I’ve always loved their fashion and Carrie’s style. Having said that, I don’t care for their personalities much. Samantha was hilarious and so was Charlotte. But I really hope there aren’t women out there who want to be exactly like these characters. Especially Carrie. I think she’s a tragic nutcase. She’s someone to look up to financially and materialistically. But she was a selfish whore. I always felt that way. I tried to like her, though. And at least Samantha was open about her promiscuity…

    But my addiction to fashion is too strong to ever turn down a rerun of the show. Watching that show is an addiction in itself. Although I’m fascinated by these characters, I just don’t take Carrie seriously. I LOVE Sarah Jessica Parker, just not Carrie 🙂

    xo Azu

  3. That is a very interesting article, especially the parts concerning the ending. The very last paragraph is definitely something to think about. The author makes a good point in that a show based on friendship ends like practically every other movie, show, book, or even song with a female main character: she gets swept off her feet in an unrealistic way that makes the man the hero and makes it seem like he was everything the woman has worked toward. I remember being thoroughly disappointed in the ending of SitC because it was so generic. I love the idea of the friends all uniting at the end, finding themselves better together than paired off with whatever strapping man to come along.

  4. As I noted in a 2010 post titled “Choose Yourself”, Michael Patrick King noted that the main draw that a few of you pointed out was the high fashion, the city of NYC and for more than a few, the sex. They knew their audience and it drew people in. What kept them was the original story-lines that hadn’t been seen on television up until that point for a general viewing audience. Women living their lives as they pleased without the approval of society or men? What a novel concept? How does it work?

    The catch was to ask people to dismiss stereotypes. Could they do that? And with Carrie as the main protagonist, could a protagonist be imperfect, perhaps questionable in her actions, but ultimately someone who was trying to figure it out – as we all are, making mistakes along the way, but doing her best to learn and move forward.

    While everyone interprets things differently depending upon values, period in their lives in which they watched the series (I see different things now in my thirties that I completely missed in my twenties), I would ask that women not call or label other women “slutbag” or “whore” because when we use these words against one another it gives others permission to speak derogatorily towards us all. There is not an equal term for men, and that is not by accident. We may not approve of someone’s behavior, but we are not the judge in their lives, and to then attack them with sexist derogatory terms only hurts the whole sex.

    I am thoroughly enjoying the conversation, and I know more of you have great words and insights to share. Please do.

    1. Thank you for addressing the name-calling. Women using sexist language against other women baffles and frustrates me. So many men use such terms to attack women and then use women’s use of the terms to justify it.

      Women set the standard for how we are treated. Treating other women in a demeaning way doesn’t make those women look bad. It makes you look bad and gives other people permission to do the same to you.

  5. I never really got int the show but tried every once in a while, as so many people loved it.
    Outside of their friendships with each other, ( and their envious wardrobes), they weren’t role models.
    Was it the wrong ending for Carrie? Personally I think people just like the idea that Carrie and Bigs love worked out. It was romantic. Simple as that.

    1. But was the point for them to be role models? Or was it to force us out of our narrow definitions of what a woman can or cannot do with her life? Because as people seem to love Big, he was just as flawed if not more than Carrie, yet people who love Big, despise Carrie. Why is that?

      And while I agree, the ending was romantic, the question rather is was it congruent with the purpose of the show’s original intent, or did it acquiesce to traditional norms and expectations not trusting that the audience to go with them?

  6. I really enjoyed sex in the city…yes, sometimes the sex was a little shocking, and they did things I would never do. But the friendships were real, NYC was beautiful, and Mr big was…well, Mr big! Rather than compare then to the golden girls, I read a comparison I like better after it ended….that it was more like the characters from the wizard of oz….the lion found courage (Samantha), the scarecrow got her brain (charlotte), the tinman found his heart (Miranda) and Dorothy found her way home (Carrie)…like those characters…no one gave them what they sought….they had it in them.

  7. I watched the show when it first aired, but was too young and naive to really “appreciate” it. It was more of a cool thing to watch HBO with my college girlfriends. I can see why the show would be considered silly or superficial to those who take it at face value.

    Now that I’m older and have lived a bit more, I can relate to a lot of what the SATC ladies went through. Obviously, my life isn’t anywhere near as glamorous or funny or dramatic as the lives portrayed in the show, but that’s because I don’t live on television! In any case, I find that each of us has a little bit of all of these women inside, and it’s interesting and liberating to realize that. I don’t look at them as role models, but instead as real women who struggle with real life issues and learn a lot about themselves along the way. I find it inspiring, sad, funny and even ridiculous at times.

    All too often as women we try to find that “perfect” role model, and stress over being just like her, becoming frustrated when life doesn’t look like a Pinterest board. This is not healthy or reality, and while it’s important to find great role models, it’s also important to become familiar with humanity, in it’s most raw form. That’s what I love about SATC and Carrie in particular. She was a role model in some ways, but also she was a truly flawed human who evolved over time, making many mistakes along the way. My two cents :).

  8. SATC was a TV show. Fiction. The Fashion, the sex, the decor (in the movies) and the romance were FUN. That heartbreak because of Big, and the search for the rihgt guy and the drive with the careers and the search for pleasure — that was relatable. But role models? Not really. I don’t really need to know what Carrie would have become if Big hadn’t “rescued” her. I know lots of women who are having lovely fulfilling lives without a man (or woman) in their lives. Carrie would still be writing and wearing fabulous clothes – and living well in NYC. But it was us (THE AUDIENCE) who needed Big to fly to Paris to rescue her from Baryshnikov (ha!)…we needed the romance, the fantasy, the FICTION!! And although I found Ms. Nussbaum’s article thought provoking, in our 3rd, 4th or 5th generation feminism, isn’t it OK to love and enjoy the fantasy (sexual, fashion or Cinderalla) without overthinking it?

    1. Yes, it was fiction, but with well written fiction, there is something beyond the surface that the author is trying to opening the readers’ minds to. The gift of such fiction is to teach the lesson to the readers/viewers without the reader/viewers having to make the mistake themselves. Much like John Proctor (who’s affair with Abigail was a fictitious element by Arthur Miller in The Crucible), he made the mistake of heeding his sexual desires and not being self-disciplined, but as we follow him, we see him evolve, thus what makes him the protagonist and very much the reason we can relate and appreciate him.

      Is not Carrie making mistakes, trying to learn from them as well? We may not be making the same mistakes, in fact we may be making worse, but the purpose of tomorrow is to learn from the mistakes and move forward. That is the gift of fiction, and I’m thankful that our society has fiction to learn from.

    2. You’re smart if you can learn from your own mistakes. You’re a genius if you can learn from the mistakes of others. (Anon)

      The past is never dead, in fact it isn’t even past. (William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury)

      Two of my favorite quotes. The older I get the truer they seem to be. I’m 55 this year. I don’t know too many true geniuses, myself included. By the time you realize your mistake it’s too late, because you’re too close and too emotionally invested in it to see it clearly. Of course, I’m talking about relationships here, not shopping mistakes.

  9. I am late for the party but I recently re-watched the show so it is on my fresh memory. Personally I loved the ending. The way I see it both Carrie and Big grew together and on the final episode they were on the same page (especially on the first movie I felt that they were both out of character). I think the pilot foreshadowed the last episode very well. It is pretty clear from the start that Big was the end game and what I thought was brilliant that in the last minutes we find out his real name. There is a balance. It is not a not just about him “saving” her quote and quote or her finally taming him. It´s both.

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