Sex and the City feminist

Can a feminist really love Sex and the City?

Sex and the CityIf you are even remotely au fait with the motifs of Sex and the City, the scene will be instantly familiar. A female journalist, at work in her city apartment, ponders the blank screen of her laptop. Her fingers hover, the cursor winks invitingly and this week's pressing question is tapped out. But the person at the computer is me rather than Carrie Bradshaw, there is not a strappy shoe in sight and my question would never have appeared on the show, namely: is it really possible to call yourself a feminist and still like Sex and the City?

I only ask because, next month, the series that launched a thousand "Which SATC character are you?" quizzes is back, this time on our cinema screens. And yet I'm still no closer to working out if the SATC gals could do with a few remedial consciousness raising classes, or if they are, in fact, le dernier cri in empowered womanhood.

The original show, which ran for 94 half-hour episodes between 1998 and 2004, is unashamedly - and, yes, unusually - a show about women, for women (though, significantly, not completely by women. It was adapted from a newspaper column and book of the same name by Candace Bushnell, but the producer and a good chunk of the writers and directors were men). The four main characters even represent a slightly self-conscious stab at representing four different archetypes of womanhood. Charlotte, the conservative, romantic, naive upper-east-side princess with sights firmly set (at least at the start of the show's run) on the right marriage to the right man. Samantha, the successful, hardworking, inviolably independent PR executive who is a believer in sex rather than love and just as tirelessly devoted to that last cause as Charlotte is to hers. Miranda, the smart, corporate, high-flying lawyer. And, at the centre of it all, attempting to navigate a path between the options offered by her unlikely group of girlfriends, is Carrie: in her own way just as idealistic as Charlotte, as glamorous as Samantha and as dry as Miranda. The themes and plot of each episode are framed by the questions Carrie asks in her weekly columns for the fictional New York Star newspaper (a reflection of Bushnell's own writing for the real life New York Observer) and include everything from experimental lesbianism to breast cancer and the challenges of combining career and motherhood.

And yet, despite the awards and enviable viewing figures, and despite the fact that SATC really did bring something new to mainstream television when it started, it was not immediately embraced by the sisterhood as must-see feminist TV.

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