Monday, March 6, 2017

Sex and the City





I did it. I watched all of Sex and the City for the first time over the past few weeks and to be honest I am exhausted by the effort. It has been nearly twenty years since it first aired (June 2008) and I have to say that maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the two decades in between, maybe it’s my general malaise at this moment, but I really can’t be bothered to go into it all that much.

If I were to sum it up in one sentence it would be this: Show that failed the Bechdel test while wearing Manolo Blahnik. It was a TV show. It happened. I guess I sort of understand why people like/d it so much but meh, not me. It did make me think things though. About sex, being a women, being a women in their 30s, about dating, about living in this city called New York. I’ll take some time now to ruminate on some of these thoughts and may ricochet off the show to give it some sitcomic flavor.

Mid 30s Curse

‘Hi there, I’m in my mid 30s and still single, why am I still alive you ask? I really don’t know.’ You are no longer a 20 year old nitwit but you are also at the, should be married/have kids soon/already point in your life. You look good, you are smart, you probably have a good job and you have an actual life. But being in your 30s means that your dating pool goes from a sea of fishes to a muddy pool. As the year pass, it gets shallower and shallower until you are left nose-diving into the dredges and hoping that some salvageable divorcés pop up here and there.

It’s ugly out there and while women in NYC have more time and less expectation then their fellow women, it starts to become stark. The Sex and the City ladies were in their mid 30s when they started the show (besides Samantha who is ~5 years older) and that seemed to be their only hurdle. They were rich (very) and all seemed to have so much disposable everything that the focus of being self obsessed and being akkkin their 30sand single seemed to be their only pressing concern.

As silly as that is, it is sort of true. For those in the art world, youth is more then just an obsession it is de rigueur. Age is just a number but what it really is, is a number that represents certain things. How much you have done or not done by a certain age is a qualifier. Period.

The reality I have seen in the art world is that women rule the show. We really do. We run things, own things, manage things and are the bulk of the workforce within the arts. There are men of course but you know what I mean. So many times I have seen/know of professional women in the art world who are in high level positions and they date or swoon to date a young male artist or coworker of lesser stature. Think gallery director sleeping with the art handler. I know people don’t want to talk about it, but it’s true and happens often. I’m not judging, hey love is proximity and a good shag is worthy of any dismantling of social stratas but I can’t help but ask: Why is it that we women refuse to settle when it comes to our professional life but when it comes to love we settle for settling?

Dating. Ha!

Throughout this series it seemed like 1) There were men everywhere that one just bumped into and then voila, a new love affair. 2) That men actually ask women out. Yes, twenty years and a whole lot of technology has made it so that the process of meeting people and going out on a date has changed so drastically that gendered roles have been flat lined to those blinky (…) things on a screen.

I think I have been picked up by a stranger maybe 5 times in my life. Each time it happens I’m perplexed, annoyed and revolted all at the same time. It happens so rarely because like most veteran NYC women my face isn’t ‘resting bitch’ face it’s more like ‘why are you breathing the same air as me’ face. So instead you go online or you go to a party and you hope that you will meet someone there to create actual sparks with but ya, it usually doesn’t happen does it?

Also, going on a date is so passé. I actually love going on dates. I like being a bit old fashioned and dare say, getting to know someone before you sleep with them, but the rules have changed and if you want to play ball, you gotta be willing to pinch hit the whole ‘it’s cool that it’s vague, of course I’m not looking for a relationship either, let’s keep this simple by not knowing each other’s last names’ performance.

It’s not impossible to meet that maybe special someone in a fantastically real world way, but anyone who dates in 2017 knows that it is rare. Like a unicorn or finding someone’s drugs in the bathroom. So I guess the question is: Is chivalry dead or are we all just dead inside?

NYC Poor

As remarked, the women in the show, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, are all super rich. Like they all own their apartments rich and can eat out and get cocktails whenever they want rich. They can go on $500 shoe shopping sprees rich and it seems men just throw diamonds and puppies at them left and right. Well, that shit is not even close to how it really is.

Being well off in the city this day in age means you can take a cab once in a while and not have to worry. It means going to a birthday dinner party and not wincing when you get the massive shared bill. It means buying a bottle of wine AND a dessert on a date. It does not mean having a personal driver, taxi-cabbing a few blocks cause you are wearing heals, buying a house in Brooklyn and being all annoyed you have to live in eh gads, Brooklyn!

Jeez Louise, I know it was 20 years ago but back then the city was still very expensive. Now instead we 20-30s are lucky if we live alone in a small one bedroom or have a few thousand in our savings. We are lucky if we can take a trip to LA or Berlin or rent a car upstate for the weekend.

Money shouldn’t affect love but it does. Money always makes things funny. Money is always personal so when love and dating get mixed up it always rears its ugly head. If you make more money then the other person you soon find out the balance of this and either you adjust and accept or there is humiliation and overcompensation.

You know why so many people are coupled up in this city? Because the rent is too damn high and sharing a bed = half rent not necessarily = true love. Also, showing your independence is another type of qualifier. You made it kid, you are a-ok, if you can make it hear, you can make it anywhere as they keep saying. Managing your money and then throwing in another person’s can be beneficial or entrapping. At times one dreams of finding that person who can buy you the house, the trips, the fantasy lifestyle that makes this city glitter even with all its dirt but then you realize at what cost? When it comes to love and money, is there ever a good exchange?

Gal Pals 

So, the four women on the show are best buds and self-ascribed soul mates for each other. They all represent a color swatch archetype which is so ugg trivial but ya I guess we are all clichés heh? Anyways they lunch and walk around the city and get drinks and go to parties and talk about menall the damn time. It is a bit wretched to watch/listen to but then I also had to admit that this is what I do with my gal pals as well.

Of course we talk about other things but talking about men, women, relationships (whatevers) is usually the number one topic as no matter where or who we are, we are all going through the same complications of love or the lack there of.

Why do women feel the need to chatter about their love and sex lives with each other? Is it a form of competition or companionship? Is it a way to expose ourselves and show our foibles and vulnerabilities hence getting an emotional bug delousing from our fellow ladies? Whatever the reason, it is a real thing that just seems necessary in most female friendships.

Does intimacy require friendship as much as it requires romantic love? All these questions but I must admit I felt a momentary pang of idealized envy towards the lifelong friend bonds that the characters had in this series. A sort of cabal of estrogen sisterhood that to be honest is rare to maintain in the city. Sometimes in this city it is better to have a best friend then it is to have a lover but then you realize you want both and wonder: Why can’t we have it all?