Sex and the City
I Am Such a Carrie
As I finished rewatching the series, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would one day miss this version of myself—33, tenacious, imperfect, vulnerable.
By SARAH GALLEGOS
I got dumped last April. I got dumped and in the depths of sadness, found myself revisiting an old friend: Carrie Bradshaw. I’ve watched Sex and the City from start to finish three times in my life. The first time I was introduced to Carrie was the summer of 2008. I had just graduated high school. My boyfriend left for college. Stranded in the rural high mountain desert of Colorado, I was alone. No college plans. No friends. Not a fucking clue. And then I discovered Sex and the City. Too poor for HBO, I illegally pirated the episodes. I sat for hours at the family PC, risking viruses to escape into a glamorous world far from my own banal existence where I felt so aimless, plain, and out of place.
The second time I rewatched the entire show was in 2017. I had just recently moved to “THE CITY” and felt a certain kinship with the show’s citizens as they frolicked through the streets of New York. I rode the subway. I went to museums. I took walks through Central Park. I felt as if I was entering a special club—one I never imagined I’d be lucky enough to join, coming from that place in 2008 where the chicest thing I owned was a fugly, oversized, and overpriced denim miniskirt from a tacky small-town boutique that I had insisted on buying only because I wanted to own Armani (Exchange).
The sad summer of 2022 found me—for the third time—starting Sex and the City from season one, episode one. Getting dumped that April had been painful. It was probably the most painful breakup I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know if this was because I loved this person deeper than anyone I’ve ever loved, or because I had spent months trying to make this person fall in love with me, or if because, like a hangover, the older you get, the worse you feel—and for longer. But in my state of despair, watching Carrie and her friends acted as a salve. And after 10-plus years since that lonely first viewing in 2008, I could truly relate to the soul of the show.
Carrie is the age I am now when the show begins—every trial and tribulation she encounters in those early seasons, I felt. I cried when she cried. I laughed when she laughed. I too was plagued by a love for an emotionally unavailable man. When (spoiler alert) she chooses to let him go at the end of season one, I felt empowered. And through her languishing loneliness post-breakup, I felt hopeful. If Carrie could persevere, so could I.
Watching Sex and the City became a little ritual for me. No matter how shitty the day had been, no matter how demoralizing the Hinge date had turned out to be, no matter how much time I spent looking at my ex’s followers to see if he had followed a new girl—perhaps his soul mate—the gals had my back. I could crawl into bed and see what new misadventures they were up to, I could roll my eyes at the sometimes-problematic commentary, and I could feel like I wasn’t alone in being alone.
But as the seasons progressed, I found myself getting more frequently annoyed by the narratives. I was losing sight of the soul of the show. What once felt so right, so good, and so ME began to feel less so. I missed the grainy film quality, the shitty sound, and the talking heads. Carrie was breaking my already broken heart. The spark had died. The tenacious, imperfect, vulnerable woman I had seen so much of myself in from the earlier seasons was gone, replaced by an over-produced shiny woman who “falls in love” (ick) with a boring, red flag-laden old man.
Skimming through the show’s final episodes, I was struck by the montage of Carrie in Paris. Walking alone. Eating alone. Looking depressed as fuck in front of a backdrop of one of the most beautiful and romantic places on Earth. I was reminded of the week I’d spent in Paris in 2020—another universe ago—reeling from another previous failed relationship in a previous era of my life. I was married to a good boy. An Aiden (oop). Whom I cared for but just did not love. I had ended this relationship in pursuit of independence and vivacity. On the eve of my divorce getting the green light, I flew to Paris, having impulsively purchased cheap tickets on my credit card months before. I was enduring the heartbreak of—yet another—paltry post-marriage situationship gone wrong. In my mind, this trip was going to be healing, soul-affirming, and beautiful. Eat Pray Love. Whatever. But I was so broke, I could only afford to walk around and look at things. Depressed as fuck in front of a backdrop of one of the most beautiful and romantic places on Earth. That week—well, it was a lot like that sad little Carrie-in-Parrie montage.
I considered that perhaps my annoyance with this Later-Seasons Carrie was partly due to my own annoyance with that Post-Divorce Sarah. I left a stagnant but safe marriage to lean into the unknown and take brave steps towards becoming a woman who didn’t revolve her life around a man, a woman breaking a 20-year pattern of valuing herself only in the terms of whatever relationship in which she was currently involved. A little like this Later-Seasons Carrie, I got a second chance to fall in love with myself and fell right back into the pattern of searching for that love in a man’s love for me. God, she was so pathetic in Paris, both of them.
As the series ended, I felt a twinge of nostalgia. Carrie is 38. Her thirties are ending. She has found the love of her life. Her and I—we had come so far together. I was miles away from the sobbing wreck on my bedroom floor I’d been during the summer of 2022, and she had finally entrapped the man of her dreams. She was a fictional character posing introspective questions about love and life. I was a live human, tuning in to consider these questions as if there was a real person offering these insights to me about my own life.
I watched Carrie get her happy ending and so greatly missed the tenacious, imperfect, and vulnerable 32-year-old woman that started the series. The series ended, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d ever get my happy ending or if, perhaps, I would one day also miss this version of myself—33, tenacious, imperfect, vulnerable.
It’s been almost a year since I was dumped, but it feels like I’ve lived a whole-ass six years, voyeuristically existing through Carrie’s two major relationships, affair, countless bad dates, and shitty boyfriends. And on this day, the day after I finished the last episode of Sex and the City, I feel a little empty. Now, there’s no compass to guide me, no fictional mentor with a cigarette and perfectly unkempt curly hair to point me in the right direction with her imaginary keyboard. So I guess it’s time to figure it out on my own. Maybe this time, THIS time, I will try something different. Perhaps I will try to make this city mine. A single girl. Okay with being single. In the city.
Restart the show back from episode one.
Which is crazy, right?
Sex and the City