So, tonight “Sex and the City” is over…boo freakin’ hoo.
I never really got into this show the way people thought I should have. As a single writer living in New York City with only my quirky sense of humor to protect me from the heartbreak of years of unsuccessful blind dating, I should have loved this show. But I missed the first season, and the train of fans who have been obsessive since Day One had already left the station. I was left behind, waving my handkerchief at the departing cars, and following on the next train out of the station—but this was a more critical train, interested in documenting the progress of the show and tracking the evolution (if any) of the characters, but not necessarily identifying with them the way my friends and colleagues did. Part of it was that I really didn’t get the glamour and the fashion of the whole affair. I made jokes: If there were an HBO show about my dating life, they’d just have to call it “The City.” Which character did I most identify with? One that didn’t exist—a funny, average-looking, non-twiglike woman, whose sardonic wit, budget-conscious shopping and sensible shoes would doom her to a life off-camera and banned from Twilo and Fashion Week.
But tonight it all ends. Tonight the last Carrie Bradshaw question will be typed on her computer for our consideration; tonight we’ll find out if Charlotte’s been impregnated; if Miranda can live happily ever after in Brooklyn with Steve, their son and her sarcasm; if Samantha’s cancer has killed her indomitable sexual spirit; and if Big is Carrie’s “lobster” (to use a “Friends” term).
I, for one, hope that Carrie chooses self-actualized freedom over yet another chapter of her dysfunctional relationship with Big. This makes me extremely unpopular among my friends, but I can’t help it. There’s this Hollywood tendency to think that every story needs a wedding, or the ending is not happy. Actually, this English major remembers that this nuptial-centric literary device was one that Shakespeare used at the end of all of his comedies—after a play full of confusion, gender bending and identity confusion, he pairs up his characters at the end, they all get married, and they live happily ever after. This continues to send a message to single America—even if you’re successful in everything else, if you’re not married, it’s not a happy ending.
The truth is, some people don’t get married. Some people get married late. And some other people get married and still don’t get their happy ending. I know people in all these categories, and I don’t wish to be married just for marriage’s sake. I could have been married by now, if that was the endgame. But I’ve seen people do that and fail miserably. And I do understand the temptation of trying to revisit old unresolved relationships—I even recently tried to contact an old boyfriend. Although he was far from being my “Big,” he was one of these characters who never wanted anything serious, and although we had great chemistry, I knew he wasn’t for me. But the great chemistry, the witty banter and flirtatious repartee, has been lacking enough in my current dating life that I was tempted to cling to past vestiges thereof, even in faded memory. (Joke was on me, this “never-ready” guy at some point got ready, and got married last December, around the time that I tried to reach him.) So, yes, I do understand how it’s just easier to go back to something that’s known, even if it’s less than you think and know you deserve, than to forge ahead into an unknown future.
So what do I want from tonight’s finale? A message that conveys that being married isn’t the only endgame. That leaves open the possibility that Carrie will individuate, and realize that Big’s actually the Big Bad, relationship-wise. That allows Carrie the optimism to soldier on into a future where she pursues her real self, and maintains connections with her friends, even as their lives all change.
I want an acknowledgment that from here on in, it’s not all Appletinis and Cosmos. Miranda’s in the suburbs (at least by City standards); Charlotte is married and has dogs and (I’m guessing) children to tend to; and Samantha and Smith are finally forging true intimacy against the backdrop of cancer recovery. As for Carrie, who knows? Some people want her with Big, some people don’t. But in any case, these four self-centered broads are expanding their circles of caring, moving away from daily diner dates with the girls, and towards the maturity of real, long-term relationships with men.
Although the title of this series was “Sex and the City,” what I’ve always related to--and I think, what most women really loved about the series-- was the relationships between the girls. The magic was in the banter that was hashed out over hash browns at brunches, and the sweet, strong truths that were imbibed along with fruity alcoholic beverages served in martini glasses—these have always formed the comedic and dramatic centerpiece of the series. These characters will no doubt evolve away from being in constant contact with each other, as that is the tendency once lifestyles change. But my prayer for all of them is that they experience the real happy Hollywood ending, that they continue to know themselves, grow their relationships with men as well as with each other, and that they always remember the girlfriends who allowed them to become who they are, with or without a man by their sides.