10 year time capsule: "Sex and the City" on aging gracefully

In a season that began with a life crisis, Darren Star's show proved it could hold its own with HBO big boys

Published June 1, 2011 12:32PM (EDT)

Carrie Bradshaw: one of 20th century television's most iconic figures.
Carrie Bradshaw: one of 20th century television's most iconic figures.

June 3, 2001: Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends hit HBO's run ... er ... airways once again, beginning the fourth season right as Sarah Jessica Parker's character was turning the big 3-5. "[It's] a landmark age for women," Parker said during an interview about the episode, (titled "The Agony and the Ex-Tacy," woof), "It makes her think about choices she makes and what she doesn't want to repeat."

But it wasn't just aging wombs that were being counted down on "Sex and the City." As they embarked on their fourth season, the show had definitely found itself a niche in women who both related and longed to live the lives of the lawyer, the writer, the sexpot, and the Connecticut princess in New York. But it was also an HBO show, straddled in a time slot right after "The Sopranos" and before a quirky new dramedy called "Six Feet Under" premiering that spring.  Over the years, these women would struggle to stay relevant; not only in the dog-eat-dog NYC where young waifs ruled supreme, but as television characters whose lives were just a tad more frivolous than the Soprano's or the Fishers'. 

And you know what? They pulled it off. Say what you will about "He's Just Not That Into You"  or Liza singing "All the Single Ladies" in that terrible movie sequel; "Sex and the City" had -- has!--  one of the largest influences on popular culture, specifically because it didn't market itself as an HBO show. (You know what I mean, everyone who canceled their subscription after "The Wire" ended.) The issues touched on by Carrie and co. weren't all schmaltzy girl stuff either: not only did it earn a place in Time's top 100 list of best television shows alongside its heavyweight network brethren, but I know just as many straight guys who enjoy the show as much as I do. I'm not an obsessive fan and I never think which character I would be (Samantha...no, Charlotte! No...who is that one that fell out of a window at a cocktail party?) but I can appreciate the clever writing, if not the constant yapping about shoes and dinner reservations. Sometimes I thought those women would have been happiest if they were all engaged to Patrick Bateman. But then I realize I'm just bitter, because collectively I don't think I've had four close female friends over the course of my life. Let alone in New York City. Bitches be scheming.

So love them for what they were or hate what'd become of them, it's impossible not to see the "SATC" franchise as a force to be reckoned with -- and by extension, the women themselves. Look how far these ladies have come: from New York to Abu Dhabi and back again. And hey, if the price is right, maybe one day you'll see Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda toasting their 80th birthdays in space with a bunch of zero-gravity pink martinis and hunky, underage guys.

By Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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10 Year Time Capsule Hbo Sex Sex And The City Six Feet Under Television