Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Sex and the City Rewatch: 25 Years Later

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCNJ chapter.


I am a chronic re-watcher. To me, the hallmark of a great piece of media is if I literally cannot get enough of it, to the point where I am absolutely craving another binge session. Sex and the City is definitely on that list. I feel like it’s the type of show where no matter who you are, you’ll definitely pull some type of life lesson from one of the core-four main characters. Originally premiering on June 6, 1998 on HBO, Sex and the City (commonly abbreviated as “SATC”) follows the lives of four 30/40 something women trying to navigate the dating world in Manhattan while juggling their careers, societal expectations, and friendships. SATC made a mark on American television for women with at minimum 2 million household viewers per season on average, and reaching an all time high in season 5 with an average viewership of 7.007 million hh viewers. It gave an insight into the dating scene at the time while highlighting a witty group of women just trying to find love in the city. People found the situations that the women got into on the show to be wildly entertaining yet relatable; it was new to see sex and dating displayed so openly on network television, and people couldn’t get enough. As the show debuted approximately 25 years ago, SATC has definitely aged poorly in some aspects within their overall representation of the LGBTQ+ community with rampant biphobia throughout the seasons, as well as a healthy sprinkling of aggressive sexism seeping into a large majority of gossip sessions between the main characters throughout the show and being the driving force of many full plot lines. While acknowledging the distasteful comments and opinions that can blight the series, there are some fantastic lessons to be learned from SATC. When looking at the impact it had on women and pop culture, breaking down the core-four, and noting that it is truly a one-of-a-kind show, it can allow you to grow within your dating life and confidence even a quarter of a century later.

Women all around America were completely smitten with Sex and the City. With award-winning costume designer, Patricia Field, being the person to dress the cast, dozens of style choices from the series heavily influenced the way everyday women began dressing. Manolo Blahnik became a household name due to SATC, the Fendi Baguette bag skyrocketed in popularity, incoming maximalism of the 2000s, as well as the coveted name-plate necklace that transformed into the trendy initial-necklace that almost every girl and young woman sported. Not only was Sex and the City impacting women’s fashion, but their conversations too. The biggest indicator of who you were and what you represented was your answer to the question: “Are you a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte?” Who you aligned with (or who you were deemed most like) was a question that is still being asked today. Just the other weekend I was playing the card game “For the Girls” with my friends and I pulled the card “Who is the Miranda of the group?”. No other context, no sly hints; we all understood what the card was asking us. This show is still infiltrating women’s conversations today. And just to answer the question, it was deemed that I am in fact the Miranda of the group.

With this, it’s important to break down the oh-so beloved main cast of women that have made SATC what it is today. As previously mentioned, we have Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte. Each of these women bring a different element to the group that creates a great balance. Charlotte is the hopeless romantic, Samantha is the exhibitionist, Miranda is the pessimist, and Carrie is the mess.

Let’s first take a look at Charlotte. Charlotte goes the entire series strong in her belief of true love and that she is destined to achieve her lifelong fairytale of ending up with her prince. She stays true to herself, and I think that that is the quality that most people love about her. In contrast to all of the other characters, she is the most optimistic and never wavers on what she knows she deserves. Every man she meets could be “the one” in her eyes, and she tends to be very open-minded and forgiving with her partners. However, this can sometimes be her biggest fault; her full trust in other people and tendency to look for the best in even some of the worst men exemplifies her naivety, which often leads her towards a lot of heartbreak. Charlotte is a WASPY conservative art collector that tends to be a lot of people’s favorite character. She balances out a lot of the conversations that occur between the main four, and often adds a more empathetic point of view to issues at hand. To me, she represents the lesson of not giving up on yourself in the name of love. Whether it’s self-love or finding your life partner, it’s clear to me that she pushes the narrative of love being attainable because you want it and deserve it.

Samantha is essentially the antithesis of Charlotte. The oldest of the group, Samantha is a sexually adventurous PR professional that would never be caught dead in a monogamous relationship (unless they bring something new to the table that she’s truly never experienced before). She usually presents the point of view of prioritizing your own personal happiness without being reliant on a man. I personally connect the most with the message that Samantha puts out, and I feel that it is the most important aspect when it comes to dating. By loving yourself first and always putting your own happiness at the forefront, it doesn’t feel particularly necessary to have a partner. Completely fabulous and thriving in her 40s as a single woman, Samantha takes what she wants unapologetically. When looking past the surface, it brings into question why she is so anti-relationship for herself. One could argue that she fears true intimacy by having someone wanting to connect with all aspects of her, which coincides with her hatred of commitment. Perhaps she wants to continue being self-sufficient, and in a man’s world it was very difficult to be at the level of success that Samantha was in the late 90s. It may feel like a slap in the face to have worked so tirelessly for her career and to be a self-loving single older woman, to only then turn to a man for validation and attention in her personal life.

I feel that Samantha and Miranda have the most overlap within the whole group. Headstrong corporate lawyer Miranda always puts her career first. She is the biggest advocate for being self-sufficient as a career woman in a male dominated industry. For her, she doesn’t need a partner, she wants a partner. She struggles to be taken seriously in the dating world as she constantly battles with believing that she isn’t desirable or attractive, and by having a very intellectually demanding career that frequently intimidates the men she goes for. Often cynical, Miranda has the most pessimistic view on dating within the group. She looks at the issues her friends talk about from a very logical view that oftentimes gives her friends a major wake up call about how they are being treated in their own relationships. She can be harsh, but she will never lead you astray. She has a tendency of shutting down relationships when they start to get too serious; like Samantha, she doesn’t want to let go of her own space and routines just because a guy is entering her life. The two greatest lessons that I feel Miranda represents is vulnerability and confidence. Her greatest struggles surround these two ideas, and I feel that throughout the series she learns to express her emotions in order to let someone into her life. She shows us that you can still have it all: an amazing career, your own apartment, love, and friendships. It’s a big push-and-pull with her character as she will often want to put herself out there to look for love, but when she gets hurt she immediately retracks all affection towards men to retreat back to where she feels safest. 

Carrie is the narrator of SATC. She writes a popular sex column in the newspaper, and a lot of her escapades are research for a new topic she’s working on. Shoe lover and chronic smoker, Carrie is a fun and free woman that is just trying to figure out what the next step in her life is. She is usually regarded as the most annoying of the main characters, but that’s simply because she goes for things in life that many of us would be afraid to do. Look, I’m not a Carrie apologist, but I can see where she’s coming from with most of her wild decisions. She tends to go for different archetypes of men rather than just looking at a love interest objectively: the businessman, the musician, the 20-something, the politician, the bisexual, the carpenter, and that’s just naming a few off the top of my head. She tends to categorize the men she sees into distinct groupings, and builds up an image of them based on her preconceptions. With this, Carrie usually changes some aspect of herself when she is around a new archetype in order to “fit in” with his crowd, or just appear to be more compatible than they really are. She often struggles to commit to someone if they don’t meet her expectations, and if they don’t outshine her previous love affair. To me, Carrie is a mix of Charlotte and Samantha in that she also believes that true love is out there for her to revel in, but she also allows herself to fall into the next relationship if it feels right. The biggest takeaway from Carrie to me is that you shouldn’t be afraid of falling in love; she emphasizes that relationships can be messy and painful, but they can also bring you immense happiness if you allow yourself to truly feel your emotions to the fullest extent. 

All of the characters that make up SATC bring to the table something different. The series presents a realistic friend group that share similar interests and qualities, but at their core are individuals with their own struggles and flaws. I can see parts of myself in all the characters, and I believe that it is crucial to try to understand where each of them is coming from. Today, I feel that dating is swaying more towards Samantha and Miranda’s points of views in that more people are emotionally guarded, and hook-up culture is seen as “the norm” expected upon everyone at some point in their dating journey. Charlotte and Carrie lean more towards wanting an idealistic love by having more blatant intentions on finding their forever-partner, which seems to not be as common nowadays. Through my rewatch of Sex and the City, I feel that I am able to look at dating from a different light; relax and let what happens happen, but also know your boundaries in what you want as your “end-game”.

I truly don’t think that there is a show on network television or any streaming services that compare to SATC. Sure there are other classics like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and 90210 that have major dating drama that pushes the characters through the plot, but SATC has a different feeling to it. It’s rare to see a group of 30/40 year old women at the forefront of a TV show that highlights how they can still date and be sexual without typecasting them as mothers or “past their prime”. It’s important to show these types of characters because it reaches a demographic that has been overlooked and misrepresented for decades. Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda, and Carrie are highly dynamic, and mimic real people when dating. It feels good to see “older” women that are successful and who experience love and sex in such an open and honest way. Shows today seem to mainly focus on teen dating while casting 25 year old actors to pretend they are freshly 16 with their five-o’clock-shadows and mature facial features. If there were a show similar to this on television now, I think that it would make an important impact on viewers to have actors that represent the age they are portraying on camera as they simply live life. Sex and the City has made an impression on generations of viewers, and has subsequently transformed the fashion and dating world. Even from a series that is now 25 years old, anyone can walk away from it having a new perspective on either relationships, their confidence, or their careers. Follow Charlotte’s advice: you’re worth a million.

Mel is a senior Marketing major with a Graphic Design minor, as well as member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. She loves studying runway, eating copious amounts of sugar, and can always be seen rewatching Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time. She is currently HCTCNJ's President.