I don’t know how many times I’ve watched Sex and the City, which was aired between 1998 and 2004, so I must have been 15 to 21 years old in real time. I don’t remember watching it in real time as I was living in Japan at the time, but it is one of the dramas that I have reviewed many times since I first encountered SATC when I was a graduate student.
It’s interesting to see the dramas that I admired back then from a different perspective as I get older.
This time, I’d like to look back at SATC from a critical perspective, because I still love it.
The first thing you think of when you watch SATC is the amount of white people in the show. There are almost no black, Asian or Mexican characters in the show.
As for Asians, Lucy Liu appeared once as herself, but she’s a celebrity, so I guess it’s a guest appearance.
As a sub character, an Asian woman appears as a housekeeper for the rich man Samantha is dating. Her role was to play a hard-working, submissive woman in front of her employer, but to his lover, Samantha, she was hostile.
Just putting the words “Asian, housekeeper, woman, submissive, hard-working” together will show how stereotypically Asian women are portrayed. Furthermore, the portrayal of hostility towards Samantha is depicted as if to create a catfight between women.
The portrayal of African-Americans is also very stereotyped.
Of all the men the main characters have dated, only Samantha and Miranda have episodes in which they date black men. Both seem to be stereotypically portrayed as “physically beautiful and strong black men”.
The man Miranda was dating, Robert, was portrayed as a very kind and intelligent character while they were dating, but after they broke up, he was portrayed as a sexual object, ending with the stereotype of a “sexually active black man”.
The main character, Carrie’s last relationship with an older man named Alex, was set up as a foreigner (Russian), although he was white. When the women comrades talk about him, they call him “Russian” and rarely refer to him by his name. In other words, he is identified in the category of Russian, not as an individual named Alex.
Recently, movies with Asians in the lead roles have started to appear in consideration of racial diversity and other factors, but I was surprised at the completely different situation when I first lived in the United States, as it was commonplace to see “all-white America” in movies and dramas.
[Divided by class]
Speaking of SATC, it’s probably a drama that focuses on “rich white women”. I think many women were fascinated by the sight of women living in New York City, wearing luxury brand shoes like Manolo and Jimmy Choo.
Brunches and dinners were held almost every week, almost all of them were transported by taxi, and the clothes and accessories they wore were gorgeous.
While it is fascinating to see how women with completely different ideas and ways of life are portrayed in a way that allows for solidarity, it is also disappointing to imagine the division based on hierarchy if that kind of lifestyle is one of the ways of connecting friendships.
The fact that the Asian housekeeper woman, mentioned above, is never portrayed as a “companion” to the four main characters is also probably because of the different layers of race and class that are supposed to be in place.
In fact, it doesn’t seem to be the case that all of the main characters are actually paid equally well, but the fact that there is little mention of income gives this drama a sense of fantasy.
[Sexual Liberation and Conservatism: Women Connecting with Diversity]
Nevertheless, the reason why I still find it a fascinating drama may be because we see a sisterhood where women take control and talk about sex, and four people with completely different ideologies stand in solidarity with each other.
Not all of the characters are sexually adventurous; the four main characters have very different ideologies. Everyone is made to be able to relate to any of the characters – Samantha, who is sexually active, Miranda, who is probably a career-minded feminist, Charlotte, who is conservative, and Carrie, who moves between conservative and liberal. In terms of sex, there are characters who are open to enjoying themselves in a variety of positions and tools, while others believe that they shouldn’t have sex until the third date or long for marriage. I remember thinking enviously of the women who were able to connect with each other in a respectful and sympathetic way despite their diverse ideas and opinions.
The sisterhood’s solidarity across different ideologies and backgrounds may be one of the reasons why I keep coming back to it.