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Sex and the City: The Friendship Lie.

In Sex and the City, the girls meet for lunch once an episode. They meet each others boyfriends, protect each other from the bad ones (or at least they try to, CARRIE). They go to clubs and parties and book launches (if only). They go on holiday together. Arguments last for an episode and by the next one, all is not just forgiven, but forgotten. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that last one; this was an episodic show, after all, but it got me wondering…

Is television’s portrayal of friendship just as damaging as its portrayal of romance?

Everybody knows about Sex and the City’s most unrealistic facets; owning your own apartment in a city like Manhatten (seriously, I would kill for an apartment like Carrie’s wherever it was), and the endless line of men falling for the leading ladies. They were all lovely, but they weren’t that lovely. Neither of these things bother me; I already know that I’ll probably never afford to own my own place, and I don’t really want a boyfriend either.

What I do want, I’ll admit, is something else SatC portrays; a group of ride-or-die, through thick and thin friends.

Other shows are guilty of hypnotizing audiences this way; FRIENDS and How I Met Your Mother being just the first that come to mind. But these kinds of friendships don’t happen in real life, do they? People fall out, grow away and apart from each other. Five years since meeting my two closest friends, we now only see each other a handful of times a year. We haven’t fallen out, we just don’t see each other anymore. Much as I hate to think about it, this is probably only going to get worse.

Everyone who watches SatC knows that many of the lifestyles on show are utterly out of reach, but it isn’t so obvious that the clique of ladies (plus one Stanford) is almost as imaginary.

It could just be me, but I really don’t care about finding a boyfriend. You could tell me that I never will, that I will be perpetually single, and I would continue to go about my life the same as ever. Tell me the same thing about friends, though, and I would lose sleep.

I have never related to a character more than I did the first time I heard Miranda Hobbes say, “I don’t know, maybe there isn’t someone out there waiting for me”. Having been told countless times myself by coupled friends and relatives, “Don’t worry! You’ll meet someone,” when asked That Question, and just wanting to say, “I don’t even want to meet someone!”, Miranda always made me feel seen.

But Miranda had Samantha, Charlotte and Carrie. I don’t have that same network, and sometimes the reminder of this has made me feel so lonely I could cry. Thing is, I don’t think I’m actually that lonely. Not really. By TV standards, perhaps, but not by real world standards. Friendships are the foundations of many TV shows and people fall in love with them. (Because I fully believe you can be in love with someone in a platonic manner.)

People are in love, I think, with the idea of having those people who are always there, ready when needed. “Someone to face the day with, make it through all of the rest with.” But when we make it out there, to the real world… people move away. Their work schedules clash unavoidably. It’s hard to find someone to make it through all of the rest with, when you can’t even find someone you have the time to meet with for dinner twice a year.

So TV isn’t realistic. Alert the presses! But it still plants over-inflated ideas in peoples’ heads. Is that something to actually worry about? Is it bad for our mental health? Going back for a moment to Queen Miranda, she got hooked on the relationship between meta-fictional Jules & Mimi, didn’t she? And it was only after all her episodes of the show were deleted, and she was forced back into reality, that she was okay again.

There are a lot of questions in this blog so far, aren’t there? Lets try for some more certainty from now on.

SatC never set out to be some sort of real world depiction of Manhattenites. It was supposed to be feel good, but when each and every aspect of romantic relationships were explored, every last angle examined, it could have been a good idea, I think, to look at friendship though a similar lens.

The show had so many openings to shift the focus to just the girls for an episode or two that it never took. Samantha temporarily dropping Miranda after she gave birth to Brady is one that comes to mind, or the ever-infamous incident when Carrie cut Charlotte out of her life for not offering to help her buy her apartment. In both of these instances, there was opportunity for interesting character exploration.

Our non-romantic relationships are important too! They can be flawed as much as romantic relationships, and in a show where the central friendships were so special, I think they should have been better explored.

I mean, I know I never watched the show for the sex or the men. I watched it for the ladies, and I would have liked to see more of them. When I finally got to the final two episodes, I cannot express my disappointment when I found out that the focus would be on Carrie, in Paris with that boring ass Russian, rather than with her friends. The people I watched the show for.

This fantastical friendship had me irrevocably and unapologetically hooked, and when there was next to no focus on it in the final minutes of the show, I felt cheated. If they weren’t together in the show’s final episodes, what did that mean for me, in the real world? I had come to put this friendship on a pedestal, but it wasn’t even the focus in the end.

I realised I was expecting too much from them. Much like the unrealistic conclusion to Carrie’s story with Mr Big, her friendship with Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte was just as much a fantasy.

Perhaps I’m wrong though. Maybe, if there is someone out there for everyone, as Charlotte York believed, my soulmates are out there as well, somewhere in the wide world. Maybe we just haven’t found each other yet. Maybe we never will. But maybe we will tomorrow, and that’s all I need to know.

10 thoughts on “Sex and the City: The Friendship Lie.

  1. I absolutely love this! It is so true. I feel like our expectations of friendship can be more than that of romantic relationships. In the adult world it can be very difficult to find and maintain those kinds or relationships!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I learned a long time ago to meet people where they are located. I used to expect full loyalty and intimacy but everyone isn’t ready or able. It’s made life do much easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked your article because I never thought of tv friendships as romanticized or a fantasy. I agree with you. I also think finding a true friend is harder than finding a boyfriend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t thought of it either, until I finished SatC again recently and realised something was making me feel really sad. (I might be a part of the problem too; the main characters in my book are platonic soulmates!)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVE this post! I’ve recently just rewatched all of the episodes and while I loved it, I was shocked at my new take on the show.

    The friendships are fickle and unrealistic and quite frankly Carrie is the most terrible friend and selfish to the core.

    Sadly as you get older, life gets busier and that’s the true reason we see less of each other.

    Brilliant post x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! This was my second watch-through of the show, and it was definitely different for me the second time around too. (I wanted to put my fist through the screen when she fought with Charlotte over the apartment money!!)

      And yes, life is *definitely* only getting busier.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “But Miranda had Samantha, Charlotte and Carrie. I don’t have that same network, and sometimes the reminder of this has made me feel so lonely I could cry. Thing is, I don’t think I’m actually that lonely. Not really. By TV standards, perhaps, but not by real world standards. Friendships are the foundations of many TV shows and people fall in love with them. (Because I fully believe you can be in love with someone in a platonic manner.)” >> I love this with all my heart!!! This post made my day. Truth be told, I always question romantic relationships, but never stop for one second to think about friendships. I just take them for granted . And as an adult, it hurts when I barely have time to see my friends and every time I even try to suggest something, schedules always clash etc. Watching shows like this makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, although I agree that when I step back and look at it objectively, I’m not doing that bad in that department. Anyway, I’m rambling. Amazing post!! Instant follow😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! It’s bizarre to hear that I’m not the only one who was so stunned by this sudden thought of “maybe it’s TVs fault”. Like we all know that romcom romances are incredibly idealised but we’ve collectively failed to think about the platonic side of things.

      Liked by 1 person

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