Maggie A's Meanderings




 Jul 27, 2014

Sex and the Selfish City

With the cancellation of The Carrie Diaries this year, I'll never get the answer to a question I've wondered about for years when it comes to the main characters of Sex and the City: How did four intelligent, independent women who care so much for each other end up so incredibly self-centered that they lacked any kind of a social conscience about giving back?"

Sex and the City was about four women who the only thing they routinely did for a "good cause" was to buy a ticket to a party with drinks.

In six seasons of episodes, I can't recall even one time where Carrie or Miranda volunteered for a good cause. Now, Carrie did model in a charity fashion show ("The Real Me," season 4, episode 2). When she was asked by the show organizer, Carrie debated about doing it, finally deciding that she would, not because she was interested in the charity --- the good it would do for the unnamed charity never came up. What did come up was the good it would do for Carrie. As Carrie told the photographer documenting the show, she did it for the free goods. She figured she'd get to keep the designer clothes she wore. But as for stepping up and offering her time and hard work for a good cause because it was a good cause and she wanted to help.......I can't think of a single time where that happened with Carrie or with Miranda.

As someone who owned a public relations company, Samantha did do work through her company for charities, but that's not the same thing as volunteering your personal time because you want to give back. In "Four Women and a Funeral" (season 2, episode 5) at the funeral of Javier, a fashion designer who died from heroin, Samantha offered her services to help raise money for Javier House, a home being built for people in the fashion industry who suffer from substance abuse, but Samantha only offered in order to get her hands on the mailing list she called "priceless" and every unlisted 212 number in Manhattan. Even Carrie described it as, "You had to give Samantha credit. She always saw the positive. One man's death was another woman's PR opportunity." It was while she was raising money for Javier House that
Samantha was caught on a couch under a married man by that man's wife who "practically owned Manhattan" and who then had Samantha blacklisted. With no one returning her calls or willing to meet with her, Samantha had to get her hands dirty and actually worked on the construction of Javier House where she pushed a wheelbarrow.
At the construction site Samantha met JFK, Jr. (altered to Leonardo Dicaprio in reruns) who rescued her from the blacklist and once Samantha was off the blacklist, we never saw her doing construction again.

Charlotte did finally volunteer ---- after her divorce from Trey when she had a beautiful, luxury Park Avenue apartment and no art gallery would hire her..........then and only then did Charlotte decide to do volunteer work as a docent at the Museum of Modern Art (season 4, episode 16, "Ring a Ding Ding"). Charlotte stated for the record that the only reason she was volunteering was because she had called seven galleries and no one would hire her. So Charlotte wasn't doing it because she wanted to give back, she was doing it because she was bored and wanted to still be around art. If she'd had an art gallery job, she wouldn't have been volunteering at the museum. Then in the last season, in "Let There Be Light" (season 6, episode 13) when Charlotte was again a pregnancy obsessed housewife this time married to a successful divorce attorney instead of a successful doctor, Charlotte had an epiphany that she had all this free time and there were people out there who she could volunteer to help, so Charlotte decides to become a guide for the blind. The outcome of this epiphany? Absolutely nothing. She tries the "pretend you're blind" test recommended for people thinking of volunteering, but never does actually volunteer.

None of the women were even blood donors. We found that out in the episode talking about HIV testing
(season 3, episode 11, "Running with Scissors"). Samantha had never had an HIV test. Carrie had been tested twice; Miranda three times. (Charlotte had no comment.) If these women had been regular blood donors, they would have had HIV tests every time they donated blood. So four healthy women who didn't donate blood, yet I'm sure if any of them had needed blood, they wouldn't have hesitated to accept it.

Self-centered, self-involved, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, could use a bunch of "self" words to describe this group but not the word selfless.

Watching Sex and the City if it weren't so obviously a feminist show, I would have suspected it of an anti-feminist agenda, "Look at how being an independent, sexually empowered woman turns you into a myopic, self-centered egoist who doesn't think that anything outside of your social circle is worth a moment of your precious time." Because that's exactly what the show portrayed. Four women who never seemed to realize that they lived as part of a larger world and should contribute of themselves to that larger world. (Nor am I interested in any excuses about how Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte were busy with their careers. That excuse is an insult to every woman out there who works yet still finds time to give back, if only on occasion.) Yet this self-centeredness, this lack of social conscience was the unspoken element of Sex and the City. It says volumes about the producers that there was this gaping hole in the lives of those four characters, yet the producers thought they were portraying modern, independent women, thought that four modern, independent women would have no place in their lives for giving back. Is that an insult to the producers or an insult to modern, independent women?

Women of Sex and the City disconnected from the circle

For more about Hollywood's skewed view of the world read "Hollywood and Religion: How Many Churches Are Too Many?," "Hollywood Romance: Fiction Versus Fact" or "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape."

And since Sex and the City was so much about fashion, here's a take not from a fashionista, but from a "Fashiomissta."

Please take a moment to look through the Archive.



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