This week Sex and the City turned 19 years old, and while we still don't know how Carrie Bradshaw could afford her lifestyle or apartment in Manhattan on a freelance writer's salary, one question has been answered by the woman herself. Was the show empowering? Nope.
In an interview with Michelle Pfeiffer, Sarah Jessica Parker says the series was not about empowerment, it was about love.
"I don’t think that empowerment was a word that was ever used once on our set, in a writers room, among the female actors. That kind of intimate relationship among female friends was brand new. A female character who spoke so candidly about sex and sexual politics and her curiosity about behavior... Because she was a writer, she could ask lots of provocative questions and observe, and the other characters could, as they were archetypes, sort of make choices. It wasn’t intentionally empowering, I guess is my point. The show was really about love, it wasn't about empowerment. It was always a journey about finding home. Where is that? What does contentment mean? How do they find love? It was a time and a place, economically and politically that allowed us to tell stories in that way. In retrospect people talk about it being empowering, but if you tried to write a show that was empowering it would have been yucky and self-conscious, and it would have been contrived and stiff."
In Emily Nussbaum's 2013 look back on the show, she wrote: "For a half dozen episodes, Carrie was a happy, curious explorer, out companionably smoking with modellizers. If she’d stayed that way, the show might have been another Mary Tyler Moore: a playful, empowering comedy about one woman’s adventures in the big city. Instead, Carrie fell under the thrall of Mr. Big... From then on, pleasurable as Sex and the City remained, it also felt designed to push back at its audience’s wish for identification, triggering as much anxiety as relief."
Of course, the audience can still find empowering moments in the show—SJP's not the boss of you. (Though we would totally take a job working for her if she offered!)