fantasy lives

by rantywoman

I sorta love this theory:

Nearly 10 years ago, in February 2004, “Sex and the City” aired its final episode. It was an episode that, in its final moments, didn’t just subvert the six seasons that had come before but seemed to repudiate them. At the end of the journey, all four women who’d found satisfaction in friendships, in work, in casual sex and, yes, in shopping were paired off with a monogamous life partner — even Samantha, whose gleeful pursuit of no-strings sex was among the show’s most popular elements.

The end of “Sex and the City” is almost bizarre in the degree to which it indulges a viewer’s wishes for the characters over the realities of the show, in which love is difficult and finding the right partner is arduous, and over the stated desires of at least one of the show’s four lead characters. In a generally quite positive reappraisal of the series in the New Yorker this year, Emily Nussbaum wrote:

In the final round, “Sex and the City” pulled its punches, and let Big rescue Carrie. It honored the wishes of its heroine, and at least half of the audience, and it gave us a very memorable dress, too. But it also showed a failure of nerve, an inability of the writers to imagine, or to trust themselves to portray, any other kind of ending — happy or not.

But there’s another explanation — a far less likely one, but one that cuts to the very heart of just how difficult life had been for Carrie Bradshaw before her final rescue by Big. I cannot know whether this is what the writers intended — indeed, I highly doubt it, but I am judging the work on its own terms and not by authorial intent. I believe that, even within the world of the show, nothing depicted actually happened. The show’s protagonist, the writer Carrie Bradshaw, wrote herself three best friends and an ultimately heroic lover. She is, finally, alone.