Jodie Dallas of Soap had loomed over my concept of homosexuality until Stanford Blatch of Sex & the City. The show populated New York city with playful high fashion, single-life experiences, and a found family that I seemed tailored to me as a glamorous adult. Sex & the City made the goals I had longed for myself seem a greater possibility.
Stanford Blatch was the primary gay character on the series, riddled with insecurities about not being gay-perfect just as I was, but Carrie Bradshaw was who I had wanted to be. It wasn’t having all the dates, but her love of style, being a writer, and out partying with literati. Seeing Carrie’s brownstone apartment made me long for my own, where I could look out a window and watch the world, inspiring my writing. She started as a columnist and grew into an New York Times Bestseller List author. Her humor was self-deprecating and her friendship unconditional, while being self-absorbed.
The four women – Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha – were a glamorous and carefree version of the found family. Where Tales of the City had been realistic working-class San Francisco, Sex & the City was a high-class Manhattan fantasy of friends, weeknight art shows, and weekend Broadway theatre. The Sex & the City women found each other through shared dating experiences, creating a strong bond between one another that anchored them through hardships.
Behind my manic-pixie-boy mask older men seemed more worldly and attractive, I adventured beyond SUNY Purchase boys to older gay males, hoping to be a step closer to NYC escape. Instead of a Sex & the City fantasy – theatre, dinners, and art galleries – I reversed my escape from ticky-tacky suburbia, to be behind the neighbors’ curtains. And I didn’t like it. Behind closed curtains, by men citing an appreciation for privacy, my perception grew to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to myself. The growth of Carrie and Jodie only moved smoothly because they had the benefit of writers who ensured their progress. This does not accurately reflect real-world journeys, which are filled with starts and stops. When I left for college I believed I was leaving behind childhood for adulthood. College to me was the floor of maturity and not another step towards growth. The growth of Carrie and Jodie only moved smoothly because they had the benefit of writers who ensured their progress. This does not accurately reflect real-world journeys, which are filled with starts and stops. When I left for college I believed I was leaving behind childhood for adulthood. College to me was the floor of maturity and not another step towards growth.
I had careened from one fantasy depiction of homosexuality to another, from Jodie Dallas to Sex & the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Both characters found their lives conflicted and dramatic as they learned who they were. They both did deal with natural consequences and problems rooted in emotional authenticity, their journeys were routed in entertainment and fantasy. Their experiences were heightened for viewership and broad appeal, a fantasy where internal and external hardwork are glossed by in favor of the end goal. In Sex & the City Carrie is rarely seen actively writing (beyond the episode’s hook), skipping over the day-to-day difficulties and grit needed to reach the Bestseller List, just as Jodie Dallas’ emotional journey is truncated by emotional swings that skip closure. The sweeping storytelling of television leaves daily details on the editing floor.