My husband and I were sitting in a dark movie theater a few weeks ago, silently waiting for our feature film to start, when all of the sudden a familiar little tune seductively crept out of the speakers. The New York skyline appeared and a collective gasp escaped the mouths of every woman in the audience followed by audible yelps of joy when Sarah Jessica Parker's face graced the screen. My husband looked jolted, shocked even, and quickly looked around to see just who was making such a racket (besides me -- clapping like an idiot beside him.)
"This is like some sort of cult!" he whispered to me, clearly shocked that I was not the only woman in existence simply bursting to see this film. I hushed him curtly, even though I'd seen the preview 50 times already. It just keeps getting better.
Next Friday movie theaters nationwide had better be fully stocked on Diet Coke and Twizzlers, because the ladies are coming to town -- and we all know just who those ladies are -- Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, otherwise collectively known as the cast of "Sex and the City." Women everywhere are counting the minutes and seconds until they are allowed a couple more hours to revel in the trials and tribulations of these four women so familiar to us they seem like friends themselves. Much like the celebrated openings of the "Star Wars" films, with people camped out on the street and arriving in costume, I fully expect to see ladies decked out in big flower pins, designer dresses and Fendi bags. Perhaps even perched on a blanket on the sidewalk, taking swigs of Cosmopolitans from a contraband Patricia Field flask while awaiting the opening of the theater. This is, after all, the ultimate girls night out.
But why has this show created such an intense following of devoted women unlike any other series in history? That's easy. Because it is beyond relatable- a combination of poignancy, humor, crassness and love. Even if this group of women have lives that seem unbelievable (a freelance writer cannot afford all those $500 shoes-trust me), and their solid friendship sometimes makes us feel as though our own are lacking (who can have brunch/lunch/dinner with the same three people every week?)- we all see ourselves in them. Maybe just in one, maybe a bit in all of them. We felt understood when Charlotte's seemingly perfect man turned out to be a dud and Miranda's underachiever boyfriend turned out to be a gem. We recognized Samantha's fear of aging and desired her self-confidence. We've experienced the heartache of Carrie's inexplicable inability to commit to a great man and the humor in the horror of farting in front of your boyfriend for the first time. And who hasn't had the achy longing for a man who seems unreachable, like Mr. Big, or perhaps the punch in the gut of seeing an ex-boyfriend looking incredibly good and happy? Each episode had a delicious mixture of all the messy components that make up a woman's life and the storylines felt plucked from our own. Watching them made us feel like visiting with a very wise and witty (and incredibly well dressed) best friend. They were who we wished we could be and who we actually were, warts and all.
I "met" these four women while actually living in New York City during my semester abroad in college (I fully count NYC as "abroad" to someone who has never lived there). I recall sitting in my room and being so thankful I lived in the vibrant city portrayed on the screen. In a way, they encouraged me to live life a little more on the edge and a little less carefully plotted than I had previously, and it made for an unforgettable semester. These four have seen me through tear-stained nights of heartbreak from my college boyfriend, getting engaged to a man I never would have thought I'd marry and being deliriously "Charlotte-esque" about our wedding and future. I felt consoled when faced with the imperfection, work and stress of a marriage and the consistent questioning about what I am supposed to do with my life. I recognized my desire and ability to write after admiring Carrie's lifestyle and skills and have now begun to try to make a living doing just that. A greater compliment could not be paid to someone like me, a new freelance writer with a hankering for fashion, as when my brother said, "Hey, you're like Carrie Bradshaw now!"
The influence these four fictional friends had on society is unparalleled in the entertainment world. The show started trends, defined them and then declared them over. It became a bible for style-conscious women everywhere and an inspiration to designers crafting clothes for the mass market. It made Manolo Blahnik a permanent figure in pop culture and allowed him to raise prices on his shoes even higher (for this, I am not thankful). It even gave us names for certain otherwise inexplicable feelings, like the deliriously happy, butterfly feeling you get at the beginning of a new relationship, deemed "za-za-zou" by Carrie. A simple phrase from one episode was not only crafted into the bestselling book He's Just Not That Into You, but is now being made into a feature film featuring a bevy of A-list celebrities! What other TV show has ever had that kind of reach and influence?
I recall a Christmas a couple years ago when my husband handed me my last present. It was the "big one" he said, and I only had to rip away a corner to know what it was. As soon as I saw the bright pink velvet case I shrieked in absolute delight and quite possibly did a little dance around the room. The complete series DVD set of "Sex and the City" was in my hands at last and my reaction was trumped only by the one I had when he proposed. I have watched it all the way through several times, and when in need of a pick-me-up after a bad day, it's the first thing I desire to watch. Call me crazy, call me obsessed -- but you'll be calling millions of women the world over the same. I've tucked away my DVD set for the day when I hopefully have a daughter I can share it with (when she's old enough, of course). The themes and stories will always be relevant to those of the female persuasion -- and best viewed with an ice cold Cosmopolitan. Cheers, girls.