Female friendships are so powerful to watch on television. When done right, it can be gut-wrenchingly authentic, because they are so hard to get right. When everything fades away—what is being a friend? The scenes of my own friendships range from midnight phone calls on a bathroom floor to huddling together on a Chicago rooftop laughing our mascara off. It’s screaming matches on driveways on sultry summer nights and holding each other on Christmas Eve (because heartbreak never did have good timing). It’s good-morning texts and passive-aggressive emails. It’s mental health. It’s death. It’s laughter. It’s trust. It’s everything in between.
For me, Sex and the City was my first introduction to well-rounded women and female friendships on the small screen. It was the first time I saw the intricacies of womanhood being depicted unapologetically. Each woman made different choices. Each woman held her own. Each woman was (generally) respected for their decisions. Each woman taught me something, and it might not be what you expect.
Samantha Jones: You don’t have to explain your past, choices or decisions to anyone.
We are a summation of everything that has ever happened to us, everything that is happening to us and everything that will happen to us. We will always be imperfect, and our choices are our own. I used to think that I need to explain myself all the time, but Samantha taught me that the only person you need to explain yourself to is yourself.
On Life: You don’t have to relive every mistake. You don’t have to doubt yourself. We are all trying to figure it out. Make the decisions that are right for you, and don’t look back. Don’t you dare question yourself. Samantha wouldn’t.
On Female Friendships: When Carrie was cheating on Aiden, she tells Samantha first. As the camera turns to Samantha’s face, the audience is expecting her to act surprised or maybe confused. Instead, she radiates a look of compassion. It’s the face of a friend who doesn’t need an explanation. Carrie’s behavior made me mad as a viewer. But the truth is, if you are a true friend, you let your friends make their own decisions and support them either way. It might not be the right one, and it might not be the best one. But it’s their decision. They don’t owe you an explanation, and you’ve got to respect that.
Miranda Hobbes: You can’t put a limit on any type of love.
I once read that Miranda embodies the millennial woman. My friends and I refer to her one-liners about workplace sexism, settling and settling down all the time. Miranda’s character arc led to my realization that love takes on many forms, and you can’t put a limit on it even if you want to.
On Love: To Miranda, relationships are nothing but being at the right place at the right time. The perfect person is a myth, and settling down for love is for people who don’t know how to be self-sufficient. That all changes when she gives birth to Brady and realizes that, despite the flaws, Steve is the one for her. So maybe love isn’t puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. It isn’t dysfunctional lust. It isn’t even complementary opposites. It’s two people constantly saying, “I might not like you right now. But I am always going to love you.”
On Life: One of my all-time favorite television scenes is during the series finale of SATC. Mary, Steve’s mother who is recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, unexpectedly walks out into the cold. Flustered and scared, Miranda looks for her, running through the streets of Brooklyn. When she finally finds her, Mary is in a state of confusion digging through a garbage can on a corner. Miranda brings her home and helps Mary wash up. The camera pans to Magda, the elderly nanny, who smiles at Miranda’s actions, and tenderly says, “What you did, that is love. You love.”
The audience knows that this interaction is starkly different to everything Miranda has preached in the past. Maybe this is why this moment always brings me to tears. We think we can put a limit on love. We think we have only so much to give. The truth is, love is boundless. We have the ability to give more than we think we can. But only if we decide to.
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