The summer I decided to stay in my college town was when I discovered my love affair with HBO’s Sex and the City. Campus may have well as been a ghost town, and there was no way I was spending all my time studying. I borrowed a friend’s DVD collection to pass the those boring, lonely summer school months, and found Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha were wonderful company.
Not to sound basic, but as a 19 year old who had just recently lost her virginity, S&TC taught me (and probably a lot of us) not just about sex and relationships, but how to talk about them – that it was healthy and educational to talk about “doing it” with your friends. Because brunch is a safe space, and nothing should be left off the (breakfast) table.
Based on the Candace Bushnell’s book of the same name, Sex and the City‘s 6 season run (and 2 movies) introduced us to plenty of sex, dating, and relationship casualties. But Carrie Bradshaw’s long term relationships could be summed up in these 4: Mr. Big, Aidan, Jack, and Aleksandr.
If you saw the movies [*SPOILER ALERT*] you know Carrie ends up marrying Big. But Bushnell doesn’t think this should have been her heroine’s happy ending. She opened up to The Guardian about the expectations the audience probably had, saying “Well, I think, in real life, Carrie and Big wouldn’t have ended up together. But at that point the TV show had become so big. Viewers got so invested in the storyline of Carrie and Big that it became a bit like Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.”
So the ending we got wasn’t necessarily the best one for the character, but the one that made the most sense in the long run. In fact, it’s understandable, seeing as it’s what we’ve collectively come to expect of romance tales since birth: our leading lady must have her happy ending. Bushnell further explains “They had become an iconic couple and women really related to it; they would say “I found my Mr Big” or “I just broke up with my Mr Big.” It became part of the lexicon. And when people are making a TV show, it’s show business, not show art, so at that point it was for the audience and we weren’t thinking about what the impact would be 10 years later.”
Did the show have a chance to explore any of the alternative “endings” Carrie could have had? Let’s see…
Perfect, perfect Aidan. The one who got away. Aidan was the kind of boyfriend you would make for yourself in a lab. He didn’t play games, he was always genuinely interested in Carrie’s life, her friends loved him, he balanced work and his relationship perfectly, and he was kind. And then Carrie had to go and ruin it by cheating with Big. After decades of bad relationships it’d be natural for her to think she’s not good enough for a good man, right? She just had to sabotage it. *sigh*
If you’re looking for a fault in Aidan you could say he (justifiably) spent a lot their second go at it jealous of Big. He ultimately proposed to Carrie mostly out of fear she would cheat on him again if he didn’t “lock her down” in marriage. Welp, onto the next.
Don’t hate me.
The breakup letter that will live in infamy. If you could call it that, because it was on a fucking Post-it. Like a reminder to get eggs, pick up stamps, and oh, break up with your girlfriend if there’s time.
Jack was a nice guy, but his baggage ended up getting the best of his and Carrie’s relationship. He found his own writing career was lagging behind Carrie’s newfound success. So the morning after what seemed like an honest effort to give things a chance, he dumped Carrie. On a sticky note. Like a chore.
To be fair, it was probably his best writing.
Or, “The Russian,” as her girlfriends called him. Aleksandr was established, worldly, handsome, and charming. But you always got the feeling he was keeping Carrie at arm’s length. After leaving New York, her friends, and her article to be with her beau in Paris, Carrie spent much of her time just trying to find a place to fit in – not just in a new city and new scene, but in Aleksandr’s busy schedule. Overall, he just didn’t have the same passion for Carrie that he had for his work, and she knew she was worth more than broken promises. So she said “Dasvidaniya“ to Aleksandr.
“Mr. Big,” aka, John James Preston
For 6+ years, the elusive Mr. Big, or Big as he was more casually referred to, jerked Carrie around. He never let her completely into his life, made decisions without including her, could never bring himself to talk about their issues, and generally was a total asshole to her for most of the show’s run. Sure, there were times when we thought he’d finally come around, but their relationship never really seemed 100% stable. For example, had Big actually been able to discuss his wedding woes with his bride-to-be, he probably would have avoided publicly embarrassing and emotionally scarring Carrie by not showing up for their wedding.
But then we never would have collectively cheered when Charlotte single-handedly gave Big the verbal bitch slap he needed all this time. Should the S&TC empire have simply left it at that?
Personally, I’ve always been in the “She should have just ended up single” camp. Because relationships come and go, so why settle? She’s got the loves of her life in Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. Sounds like a happy ending to me.