Women are for friendship and men are for fucking.
Enough has been said and written about the four women of SATC. And their friendship. And their men. And their clothes. And their Choos.
But what about the ‘other’ women? The women who come in the girls’ lives across six seasons are definitely not as important as men are to the story-arcs, but they provide a great sounding board to the theme of exploring our main characters’ life in Manhattan.
One of the outstanding things about SATC is total lack of bitchiness even when it comes to its minor female characters. She could be your big boyfriend’s ex-wife or your boss- the characters and the show doesn’t indulge in the tired cat-fighting , woman vs.woman cliche.
Miranda is a sarcastic wit, a cynic, an ambitious lawyer and is the least ‘feminine’ of the girls. She wears the pants, literally and metaphorically. She also has the series’ most obvious feminist one liners. And it is her who undergoes the most dramatic character change throughout the series. She becomes a single mother, she loves and marries a man who is financially/ socially her inferior, and she moves to Brooklyn with her a large family.
It is interesting that the women in Miranda’s life are maternal, and are traditional examples of femininity. They offset her type- A personality and make her ‘acceptably feminine.’ Because hey, motherhood trumps all the glittery clothes and loud orgasms and beautifully decorated homes when it comes to acceptable femininity.
The annoying Magda is the glaring example. A judgemental Ukranian housekeeper who reminds Miranda of her mother, Magda almost always gets the last say, usually with the pursed lipped smug look on her face that closes the scene. Magda disapproves of condoms and vibrators and coffee. She suggests tea and Mother Mary and making pies. She disapproves of any boyfriend who is not the baby’s father, especially when he is one hunk of an african-american ( So what he is a doctor for the Knicks? The most ideal man for a woman is the baby’s father!!). She cheers during Miranda’s wedding with annoying Steve. She ‘validate’s Miranda’s capacity to love when Miranda rescues her senile mother-in-law. As if 6 seasons of Miranda showing love and support to her friends was not enough!! She is one the characters I hate the most,because her so-called earthy-mama wisdom is used to validate Miranda as acceptably feminine in the most traditional way possible.
When Miranda’s baby is in the 24 hour crying phase, she is helped by her neighbour, a fellow mum, who gives her a vibrating chair to soothe the baby. And although she proclaims that ‘Miranda’s friends will never understand how to handle the baby since they haven’t had one themselves’, the resourceful Samantha does the trick by placing a large vibrator next to the baby, to the same results!! ( Go Sam!!) A frumpy sales-woman helps Miranda find the right bra-size and reminds her of her mother. Debbie-Steve’s girlfriend is young and decidedly down-market with her acrylic nails and shoes and job in a credit card call centre. She is also warm and unpretentious and a conventionally ‘ideal’ girlfriend, who is dumped by Steve eventually. Steve’s mother is an eccentric alcoholic who admires Miranda for her honesty. In the series finale, it is she who provides the finale to Miranda’s character when Miranda not only agrees to keep her in their house, but also runs out looking for her and bathes her tenderly.
From the cynical ambitious career-woman who is mistaken to be a lesbian early in the series, to the firmly established mother-superiour of her family ( in Brooklyn, nonetheless) in the series finale, Miranda’s character arc is the most apologetic of the series. It represents everything which I dislike about the later parts of the series. And it has nothing to do with her becoming a mother, but with the fact that the changes in her character smack of traditional stereotypes.
Samantha is the friend we all would love to have. The most entertaining, adventurous and honest character of the series is also the warmest of them all. That is why it is surprising that Samantha is not shown to have other female friends- she is the ultimate girls’ girl. The most significant other woman in her life is the hot Portuguese artist Maria, with whom Sam indulges in an affair. Maria admires Sam’s cockiness, her fabulous sense of humour, her loyalty for her friends and her lust for life. Although the ‘relationship’ aspect of it bores Sam and her libido, they remain friends.
Samantha locks horns with a chef who doesn’t want her brother to date a white woman. But characteristic to Sam, although she claws the chef, she realises that it is the brother who is to blame here, and not the over-possessive sister. Samantha helps the nun to get a doctor’s appointment by pimping her boyfriend. The most beautiful scene of Sam and other women is during a fund-raiser for breast cancer. Sam starts with a prepared speech, but decides that posing and pretentious are not for her, and takes out her wig. In a moving show of camaraderie and freedom, many woman in the fund raiser spontaneously take off their own wigs.
I adore and worship Sam- and wish had a friend like her. Because I am never going to have the guts and honesty to be like her in real life.
Charlotte is burdened with the most evil stereotype of all- a meddlesome, bossy mother-in-law. Bunny is every Park Avenue princess’s nightmare and a doppelgänger for Charlotte’s own prejudices and rules. Bunny provides a hilarious and nasty peek into the future for what Charlotte thought of as a paradise, but is actually a repressed and mean WASP hell hole. For a woman who upholds the most traditional value system of all, Charlotte touches our hearts when she soothes the girls with what is perhaps the one line synopsis of the show. She says,
“Don’t laugh at me, but maybe we could be each others soulmates? And then we could let men be just these great nice guys to have fun with?”
Carrie almost stalks Big’s first wife and ends up really liking her. Even Natasha, the ‘idiot-stick-figure-with-no-soul’ a.k.a Big’s second wife is shown in a warm light. She might misspel ‘there’ for ‘their’, but she is sincere and had a steely character that belies her designer look. It is Petrovsky’s wife who proves an insight into his self-centred character, that marks the change of Carrie’s attitude towards him. Carrie’s boss Edith starts out as an ice-queen, but Carrie chooses her over the ‘father-figure- editor’, contrary to expectations, going by Carrie’s penchant for picking up older, successful men. Many friends, foes and rivals cross Carrie’s path throughout the seasons, but in no episode does she behave in the psycho manner with them, that she does with each and every man she is with.
All in all, SATC is one of the unique shows that gives us a refreshing view of the world ( albeit the glitzy Manhattan world) where women are not out there to get each other throats only to be saved by the eternal love of a stable and secure man, a marriage and a baby. Having spent majority of my life surrounded by smart, warm and strong women- I totally relate to this world-view.