February 22 marks the 10-year anniversary since the last episode of "Sex and the City" aired on HBO.
Yeah, that's how we feel, too.
Whether your primary "Sex and the City"-watching years were your teens, 20s or 30s, with time and maturity the cracks in the original dramedy begin to show. Carrie, unequivocally aspirational to young viewers, transforms over time into a pathologically self-absorbed prima donna who isn't always the most thoughtful friend. Her addiction to a withholding man, Mr. Big, begins to feel troubling as aging viewers recognize it less as tortured romance and more as emotional warfare.
But the truth is, Carrie was always an anti-heroine. The show demanded we see ourselves in these characters and then promptly shattered the mirror. What reflected back was messy and instructive, until the series' tidy ending on February 22, 2004.
While the series is often omitted from "Best Of" lists in favor of male-led hedonistic dramas and is reduced to "guilty pleasure" status for contemporary viewers, women owe a great deal to Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. Over the course of the late '90s and early aughts, the ability for women to speak publicly and honestly about their sex lives evolved from taboo to privilege, from privilege to right, and from right to obligation. That this trajectory ran parallel to "Sex and the City" isn't nothing.
"Sex and the City" didn't define womanhood. But in some sense, it relieved us from having to. In retrospect, the show is far from perfect. Its puns border on insufferable. The willing suspension of disbelief demanded to imagine that Carrie's columnist income could support her lifestyle was nearly irresponsible. With time, some of the show's subplot miscellany faded from edgy to novelty. But many truths, both deep and superficial, endure. Here are the top 10 lessons we learned from "Sex and the City" that transcend trends, taste and the harsh filter of time:
1. There will come a point when you will serve your friends better by telling them what's really up. Indulging their delusions for a little while is kind, but allowing them to relapse over and over again into behavior that hurts them and requires emotional support from you -- to no foreseeable end -- is not. Miranda snapped at Carrie's 237th Big relapse. But she needed to hear it.
2. You are not a threat to feminist solidarity if you don't share the beliefs of every other woman you meet, or even your closest friends. Miranda didn't believe Charlotte should quit her job after getting married. Charlotte insisted she could "choose her choice." They fought about it for a minute then went back to normal.
3. Your friends are often the real "the loves of your life." While every character spent some time submerged in total self-absorption, they were always there for each other when shit got real.
4. Keep your skinny jeans. Holler, Miranda.
5. You will never be perfectly satisfied. One desire will inevitably give way to another once it is fulfilled. The hustle is half the fun, anyway.
6. People will not always forgive you for your mistakes -- even if they claim otherwise. Carrie could sense Aidan hadn't forgiven her for cheating, and her "you have to forgive me" speech was among the series' most emotional moments.
7. Once you find the right person, surface things like back hair don't matter. If Charlotte could get on board with it, it has to be true.
8. When you have to let go of someone you loved deeply, it will take time for your feelings towards them to reconfigure. And that's OK.
9. Sex with someone you love can be great. Sex with someone you don't love can also be great. Sex can be no big deal or a really big deal. As long as you're deciding.
10. While Carrie's job was to search for emotional cues and personal neuroses to explain every failed relationship, sometimes there is no explanation. Realizing and accepting this fact will save you a lot of heartache. Sometimes people can change, and sometimes they can't.
And per one of the show's cheesiest but most resonant lines, you don't have to either: