Why “Sex and the City” is Still Important 20 Years Later

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Sex and the City. Who feels old? Probably Samantha. But for many of us, this is a pretty big deal. After all this was the show that made us believe if we moved to New York City, we could conquer the world and we would do it in Manolos.

But was the show too much of a fantasy that gave us false hope of what being an adult was like?

In the world of Sex & the City, New York City was the four ladies’ oysters. They conquered their careers, men (who were everywhere on that show. Seriously, have you ever picked up a guy at a bookstore?), real estate (umm as a writer in New York I will tell you my apartment looks nothing like Carrie Bradshaw’s. I would be thrilled with living inside her closet), and of course, fashion. On Sex & the City, Chanel purses grew on trees.

But I hate to write off the entire series as unrealistic (even though Sarah Jessica Parker has admitted running around in heels all over New York City has ruined her feet.) Though there was a fantastical element there was also some real and rare moments that looked at what it was like to be a modern working unmarried (and eventually married) woman today. In my opinion, this is why Sex & the City is still relevant today. And anything that spews two feature films, dozens of copy-cat shows, and a precursor series, clearly resonates with people.

1) It made us look differently at single women

Single women after a certain age are viewed as outcasts (and kind of sad) according to society. S&TC showed us that was very much not the case. Those ladies had awesome lives. And the way people talked about the show was amazing. It became part of the culture.

2) It made us look at fashion differently

Sex & the City started to be recognized as an institute of fashion around the same time that actresses replaced models on the covers of magazines. This was a huge fashion movement (thanks to costume designer Patricia Field and the always amazing Sarah Jessica Parker.) Carrie Bradshaw showed a woman that put fashion above all else. New York has always been a fashion capital but with Carrie we were given a new icon. A blend of high fashion with street wear (think of her gold name necklace.) Women aspired to be like Carrie. “It was making fashion more daring and women more bold to express their sexuality instead of tip-toeing around it. Wearing something like Carrie’s iconic slip dress or mixing a t-shirt with a ballerina skirt,” said Kathryn Worsham, creator of Beyond the Pencil Skirt and fashionista.

3) It showed an in-depth look at women’s friendships

Relationships between women are extraordinarily deep and personal and frank (think of that episode in the back of the taxi cab.) S&TC showed how honest women were with each other, especially when it came to the taboo topic of sex. I mean this was the show that posed the question, “Are we simply romantically challenged, or are we sluts?” Charlotte once said, “Don’t laugh at me, but maybe we could be each others soulmates? And then we could let men be just these great nice guys to have fun with?”

4) It gave us something to aspire to

Maybe the show was totally unrealistic but it gave us something to hope for. Unlike Girls, to which S&TC is often compared, this show was what you wanted to be (any of us can be holed up in an apartment in Brooklyn with a terrible boyfriend. Why not go for something better?) You wanted to run around in a perfect outfit, with your dream job and eventually nab that unforgettable guy because you deserve it.

The show gave women a voice, a sense of comfort, a heck of a lot of laughs, and, of course, BIG. And for that we are thankful. Happy Anniversary Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda!

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the former editor in chief of the women's career site, The Grindstone. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire @ Work, The Jane Dough, DailyWorth, SheKnows.com, Business Insider and Learnvest. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys reading, jogging, SoulCycle and playing with her small dog, Otis.

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