Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. They are as familiar to us as our real life friends. Most fans of the show can see a bit of themselves in each of these characters, which is why it still has cultural resonance all these years later.
While there are elements of the characters' personalities and experiences viewers can relate to, even many fans of the show dismiss it as being an unrealistic fairy tale. Carrie was supposed to be the broke one in the crew, yet she lived in an idyllic (by New York City standards) apartment on Manhattan's posh Upper East Side and of course, had a $500 pair of Manolos for every day of the year. The show was also criticized for the endless amounts of time the ladies had to hang out, shop, brunch together, and of course date a seemingly endless stream of men.
Let's set aside Carrie's shoe collection and the ladies' abundant spare time for a moment. After all, it's not a documentary, it's a TV show! Other than the emotionally gratifying but entirely absurd ending when Carrie and Mr. Big rode off into the Parisian sunset (setting a hugely unrealistic expectation for all the women out there holding out hope for the emotionally unavailable man who repeatedly broke your heart to one day come to his senses and devote himself to you), there was a lot of truth on display.
1. You Already Know The Right Thing To Do
We all have an internal compass, a "gut instinct" that we are quick to ignore when our egos are involved. Most of the time, on the show as in life, when you ask your girlfriend for advice you already know in your heart what the answer is. Charlotte knew that her relationship with Trey was doomed, even as she clung to the hope of salvaging her unhappy marriage and asked her best friends for guidance. In picking Trey, Charlotte chose style over substance in her pursuit of her "perfect" husband. When it all came crashing down, no one was surprised, least of all Charlotte.
When Carrie began her adulterous affair with Mr. Big after he had strung her along and then broken her heart, she knew she was doing the wrong thing, not only morally but for the sake of her own needs. When she tried to justify her actions to an irate Miranda, it was hollow -- she knew she heading for disaster.
It's crucial to have people in your life you can trust to help you work through life's challenges. In the end, however, the best friends you can have are a mirror to help you to find your own truth.
2. Men, Men Everywhere
Years ago, while everyone was talking about how unrealistic Carrie's designer wardrobe was for a newspaper columnist, I was more distracted by another key feature of the show. It was the fact that these four women met new men constantly -- all of the time, everywhere they went.
I couldn't relate. I didn't meet men so easily and neither did most of the women I knew. At first I chalked it up to being another unrealistic TV show fabrication, like Carrie's Manolo collection.
My skepticism turned to curiosity and as a fan of the show (and of meeting men) I became inspired to do an experiment to see how many men I could meet while going about my daily life. I kept my eyes open and started creating my own opportunities for guys to talk to me, by saying hello and smiling and making eye contact. And so I started meeting men in line at the deli, at the dog park, on the subway and while waiting for friends at restaurants. As it turns out, there really are men everywhere! Not only that, but men's interest in you is increased by you showing interest in them. I discovered it was within my power to start connecting with the men who were all around.
The SATC women were masters of the eye contact/smile flirting combination. If this flirtatious behavior isn't your strong suit, watch a few episodes as a tutorial and give it a try. With the exception of Samantha, the ladies didn't have an "on the prowl" mindset. They were simply open to possibility and honest about their desire to connect.
Before my "men, men everywhere" experiment, I would only wait for men to approach me without any invitation to do so. It happened for me on occasion, and it occasionally happened that the SATC ladies were just minding their own business when a guy approached them. But if you pay attention to the show, the catalyst is usually one of the women noticing a man noticing her and giving him a friendly invitation to approach her.
If you're sitting on the sidelines waiting for men to approach you, try out "men, men everywhere" for yourself and see what a gamechanger it is! To make the connections even more likely, give your phone a rest when you're in public places and keep your head up and eyes open! And get ready to smile. Carrie can show you how!
3. True Love Can Come In Unexpected Packages
Aside from Carrie and Big ending up together, moving a previously realistic "on again/off again with a charming but emotionally distant man" relationship dynamic into pure fantasy territory, SATC did show us in significant ways how love doesn't always look the way you expect it to, but is as joyful as you'd dreamed nonetheless.
Charlotte ended up happily in love with a man whom an earlier version of herself wouldn't have given the time of day because of his less-than-head-turning looks. After years of searching for her gorgeous, WASP-y counterpart, she found love with someone who didn't live on Park Avenue and was of a completely different religious and cultural background. Miranda found herself married to Steve, whom she originally didn't take seriously as a potential partner due to his being a bartender and seriously emotionally available, which wasn't really her "thing." Even the relationship-phobic Samantha ended up with a man who loved and accepted her for who she was and wasn't afraid to say so. As it turned out, that meant more to her than the freedom to sleep with whomever she wanted.
SATC did a great job of showing us how the ladies had to change their perspectives and their behavior to allow for these relationships to happen. It wasn't easy for them to shift -- Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha all resisted, questioned the men, questioned themselves and even came close to letting their resistance (fear) win out. But they all pushed past their reservations in the face of the clear truth -- these were men they were truly connected to who were in it for the long haul.
What do you think? Are you willing to shift your perspective in your journey to finding love? Does the above ring true to you? Or did you find some other true lessons in SATC? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Francesca is a professional matchmaker and dating coach. You can find her on Twitter @DearFranny or get free weekly dating advice and updates at www.francescahogi.com.