Sex and the city:

Evaluating Carrie Bradshaw

Hannah Stone

We all hate Carrie Bradshaw. So why do we all want to be her? 

I am one of the biggest fans of Sex and the City that you will ever meet. The show, in my mind, is the perfect combination of humor, love, female empowerment, and satire. When one of my friends first introduced me to the series, she compared our close friend group of four women to the four women on the show (Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha). This is always a dangerous game to play - someone’s not going to like their “twin” character. 

In this case, my character assignment felt like an insult. My friend decided that I was most similar to Charlotte and that she was the most like Carrie. I was annoyed. Why did she get to be Carrie - the carefree, shoe-loving, sexy columnist who always lucked out with random bouts of success? Why was she the main character in our story? I watched Charlotte in the show and carefully kept track of all of the ways I wasn’t similar to her, constantly pushing back against my friend’s initial judgement. I was certain that I saw more of myself in Carrie. 

But then I realized I was only acknowledging Carrie’s positive traits, while ignoring all of her flaws. I was programmed to think that Carrie was the best character - which was likely the writers’ intention. The show is designed to make you love Carrie. We all want to be like her because she just seems so cool. 

And she is pretty cool; but, more often than not, she is incredibly annoying. When watching the show for the first time, I remember being constantly frustrated by Carrie’s actions. My complaints were as follows: “She just makes the worst decisions. She finally has a good relationship with someone who cares about her, and she cheats on him! Why does she think she can be upset now that he doesn’t want to get back together with her? She’s moving to Paris, quitting her job, and giving a man complete control of her apartment! What is wrong with her!” Etc, etc, etc. 

 

To back up my frustrations, there are countless articles online explaining why Carrie Bradshaw is the worst female role model ever. People claim she is given her success without working for it, she spends her small salary on frivolous desires, and she somehow effectively makes every conversation about her; exhibit A being her Sunday brunches with the girls, just being an excuse for her to rant about her own personal problems.   

 

And yet, even after acknowledging her countless flaws, of all the women in the show, I still wanted to “be” the most like her. Why was this? Well, for one, Carrie is the star - and everybody wants to be the star of the show. Also, Carrie’s not really a bad person in the grand scheme of things. She may be slightly self-obsessed, but most of the time, she shows up for her friends when they are in need.

Yet perhaps the biggest reason everyone wants to be Carrie Bradshaw is, weirdly enough, because of her foolish decisions and cringe-worthy mistakes. Carrie’s issues with love and living in the city always appear to be more catastrophic or life-changing than her friends’, and yet at the end of each episode, she finds a way to spin her problems into a positive learning experience. Although she’s often hanging by a thread, she makes it out alive - and sometimes she even thrives. 

 

And that, I believe, is why we all want to be Carrie Bradshaw. Because she is a mess. Because she is selfish. Because she does the wrong thing quite frequently. Because she still finds hope even after her many breakdowns. Because she stands back up when she, quite literally, falls down on the runway. 

 

Carrie Bradshaw may be a bad role model according to traditional standards. She doesn’t have great plans and she doesn’t always do what a “strong woman” would do, but she’s human. And every once in a while, it’s nice to look up to someone who seems to live a life that is a little bit more within reach of the average woman. We all want to be Carrie Bradshaw because she reminds us that it’s okay to rarely have it together, never have a concrete plan, live an extravagant life, and still be a woman capable of being loved by herself and others.