This is How We Do It
Before Sex and the City was a polarizing franchise, it was a book, clearly positioning itself as a glimpse inside the world of one particular columnist – Candace Bushnell – who wrote stories about her friends and her on again/off again relationship with a Bond villain-esque industrialist named “Mr. Big”. The book, while entertaining, wasn’t exactly hard hitting or especially noteworthy. I know this because I read the damn thing in one setting and quickly dismissed it as fluff and went about my business.
The television show was on the air for nearly four seasons before I decided to investigate why a mediocre book had been transformed into a hot show on a network I didn’t even get. I remember it was a sunny June afternoon and I was driving with my niece. We’d just come through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge en route to La Mommie’s house in VA. I heard a promo for the episode: Ring a Ding Ding where after breaking up with Aidan, Carrie discovers she’s also about to be booted out of her rent controlled apartment. Carrie says, “I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes.” and it made me laugh. More importantly, it made me intrigued. Who was this Carrie and why was she about to be rendered homeless?
The show proved to be far more entertaining than the book, with humorous storylines, wonderful reversal of fortunes for its leads and, of course, that gorgeous Chris Noth. More importantly, it seemed to be about four female friends who actually adored each other. Not in that bullshit way that females often do on other shows, where it’s more frienemy than friend, but like sisters.
Stumbling through the feminist landscape I rarely came across nuanced critiques of the show, instead hearing the same misogynist and problematic dismissals stated by others who I didn’t expect much from anyway. For the most part the critiques rang false and seemed to come from a very mean spirited, catty place – “a show about women who act like gay men written by men”. Um, maybe your season Six Part 2 disc came with some other special features, but mine came with one where a room full of women talked about how they brought their own experiences to the writing of the show. Then there was the ageist critiques, which largely went unexamined or the Family Guy, “Isn’t that a show about three hookers and their mom?” quip that didn’t seem to be enough to cause folks to go, “Wait a minute.”
What I have observed in the critiquing of SATC is the same thing I noticed when Kate Hudson allegedly got her boobs did – feminism is for all those pure of heart and noble of spirit women. It’s not for privileged people (ignoring the fact many of us are privileged in some areas) and it’s okay to throw those women under the bus because they’re just not as cool as us.
Uh uh. I don’t think so.
SATC has problems – lots of problems. Seriously, you do not have to mansplain that to the chubby brown girl. And legitimate critiques are welcome, but so-called feminists don’t get to pass off the nasty rhetoric lifted from others as criticism. More importantly, I just don’t care what people who don’t like the show think about its problematic elements. Here’s why.
Your critiques are embarrassingly captain obvious
Classism? Racism? You don’t say! I am shocked that a show featuring four white leads would have some elements that are racist and classist. Next you’ll probably tell me they’re heteronormative. Have you noticed this about Liz Lemon? What about Amy Poehler? Battlestar Galatica? Dr. Who? Bones? Oh wait, those are feminist sanctioned shows so we don’t have to notice their issues, only the shows we don’t like. Man, shut the fuck up. This is why I hate allies, slactivists and cheesy ass feminists. Always acting a fool in front of company. Hateration has never been recognized as legitimate feminist discourse. Hate it if you must, but own that.
I can tell you 25 things legitimately problematic with the show and 22 things wrong with film (besides the overly long running time, mediocre plot, racefail, tedious attempt at class analysis of mothering, disappointing wardrobe choices, wonky interior design and lack of LOLs) – no I’m not doing it. You’re smart. Do you own damn legwork – and none of those elements are ever touched on in the critiques I’ve read. Know why I can tell 25 things, CAUSE I LOVE THE SHOW. See why it’s important to critique shit you actually consume. Cause it makes you a better consumer. You’re not sticking your head in the sand championing some fucked up shit about ten minute after it’s clear to anyone with -isms the shit is fucked up. And then you have to barnstorm the airwaves with blog post after blog post positioning your show as “good with some problematic elements” or prop it up by comparing it to some FAR WORSE show.
I don’t have to do that. My show has problematic elements. All shows have problematic elements. You don’t get any cookies from me for playing gotcha activism. If I gave out cookies (I don’t) it would be for people digging through their own closets for dark secrets and not opening up my hamper and telling me all the clothes in there are dirty. Really, dirty clothes in a hamper? I’m shocked!
Nobody tells you the awful, painful and embarrassing truth like someone who loves you, knows you deeply and is honest about their own flaws. I didn’t learn that shit from Liz Lemon, Bones, Olivia Benson or President Stands With Fists.
I learned that shit from Carrie Bradshaw.