“We still live vicariously through Carrie,” says one woman in this New York Times video about the movie’s premiere.
“Well, that used to be us in our twenties,” says her friend.
And therein lies the hands-down weirdest thing about the Sex and the City madness. Carrie isn’t in her twenties. Carrie is in her thirties. By the era of the movie, she’s 40. It feels almost rude to point this out, as if I’m suggesting that Carrie is old and therefore unsexy, or uninteresting, or unhip. I don’t think any of those things – I just know, objectively, chronologically even, that 40 is not the same age as 20.
Sex in the City is very much about age — about how to be an adult woman when for most of the history of civilization female adulthood meant becoming a mother and a wife. The women of SATC variously chase, embrace, and reject those roles. Mostly, they agonize about them. But alongside the painful awareness that they’re still living ostensibly youthful lives comes delight in the fact that they’re old enough, and therefore rich and established enough, to live glamorously. When the ladies go to parties, they know everyone there. Carrie may have spent all her savings on shoes, but she can certainly afford dinner; Miranda’s been out of law school so long she’s a partner in her firm. All four women have paid their New York dues, presumably during the previous decade, and now their lifestyles are all about access.
The show believes firmly that it’s better to be 35 than 25. When twentysomething female characters do appear—even in the form of the heroines in flashbacks—they’re always depicted as irritatingly clueless children. The show doesn’t treat twentysomething men much better, though it does occasionally promote them from brats to boy-toys. (Samantha’s so well-established that she can establish a relationship with Smith Jerrod’s cock, which I think is the only character in the story who’s the same age I am.)
So why do twentysomething women embrace the SATC women as their—our—peers? Why does sex columnist Julia Allison, at 28, think she’s Carrie? Pop culture usually glamorizes youth, so in a way it’s nice to see the fetish run in the opposite direction. It's just that, as with so many other things, the show's mythology doesn't fully connect with objective reality in the lives of its fans.