The 'Sex and the City' Reboot Gave Me Clarity About My Last Situationship
If I ever get married and outlive my spouse, I hope no one at their funeral utters, "Am I the only one who remembers what a prick he was to her?"
Of course, that's exactly what happens in episode two of the highly anticipated Sex and the City reboot called And Just Like That… The Internet has been buzzing about Mr. Big's untimely death following his thousandth Peloton ride in episode one of the series, but I can't stop thinking about that line in episode two. Susan Sharon, a character who only appeared in two episodes of the original TV show, attends Big's funeral and whispers it like it is: Big was always kind of a prick to Carrie. (Related: Peloton Responds to Death of 'Sex and the City' Character In First Episode of And Just Like That…)
I was a 3-year-old when Sex and the City premiered on HBO in 1998, but my introduction to the show wasn't until a decade later when I discovered reruns on the E! channel. The city, the relationships, the parties, and the shoes had me hooked. Soon I was zig-zagging my way through Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big's tumultuous relationship via out of order episodes that aired every afternoon when I got home from school.
In anticipation of the reboot, I started rewatching the first season of the original series. While the show aired more than 20 years ago, it still offers an accurate depiction of modern dating, at least in my experience. Now in my mid-twenties, my life mirrors Carrie's in a way high school me could only imagine. I live in New York City, I write for a living, I sometimes even get invited to fancy parties, and, for better or worse, it seems I have a similar penchant for chasing commitment-phobic men around Manhattan. The only thing I'm missing is a pair of Manolo Blahniks.
It's been parts comforting and disturbing to see my dating life represented on the small screen. Decades have passed, dating apps have replaced personal ads, and a global pandemic has turned many aspects of life upside down, but from what I've gathered, single people still seem to be falling into the same relationship traps depicted in the show. We're just wearing different clothes and spending more time looking at our phones.
One episode in particular stood out to me during the rewatch: "The Monogamists." In it, Carries finds Big lunching with another woman, which leads to a conversation about monogamy. If the episode was released today, it might be called DTR (Define the Relationship). (Related: What the Heck Is a Situationship, Anyway?)
I had the pleasure of watching this episode the day I found out that a guy I had been seeing for over three months was still messaging new people on Hinge for dates, while the thought of going out with someone else hadn't crossed my mind. Even though dating apps hadn't been invented yet, episode seven of season one, which aired in July of 1998, perfectly captured what I was going through at that moment.
The difference was that Carrie and Big were able to come to an agreement about no longer seeing other people, but my situationship came to an abrupt halt when we couldn't do the same. He couldn't commit and chalked it up to me moving faster than him. Sound familiar?
Those who have watched all six seasons of the Sex and the City and both of the feature films that followed know how the rest of the story goes: years of catch-and-release, sweeping gestures, and a roller coaster of emotions that serve a purpose in entertainment, but in most other situations are wildly unhealthy.
I asked sexuality and relationship educator Logan Levkoff, Ph.D., whether relationships like Carrie's and Big's can last. In real life, "relationships with extreme peaks and valleys like these definitely have expiration dates… particularly if you are looking for emotional stability and intimacy," she says.
The first episode of And Just Like That… shows a glimpse of Carrie and Big finally reaching a point of security, presumably in part due to the pandemic. They cook and listen to old albums together, they plan beach getaways in the Hamptons. But, as Susan Sharon was quick to remind us, it's hard not to forget past discretions. This is the same man who got engaged to a 26-year-old he met in Paris after telling Carrie he'd never get married again, who got in the way of her relationship with loveable craftsman Aiden Shaw, who abandoned her on their wedding day.
Sure, everyone loves to watch this kind of relationship on screen, but the reality of falling for someone who won't commit and expecting things to change is stressful at best and toxic at worst. "Audiences feel the sexual and emotional tension of these relationships, too," says Levkoff. "We don't necessarily want that drama ourselves, but we sure do enjoy watching it." (Related: 7 Signs That You Might Be In a Toxic Relationship)
That's why I'm holding out for someone more sure of their feelings for me, but I'll admit it's been hard to resist the temptation to enter a tumultuous relationship of my own. I've actually considered waiting around for my recent ex to get to a place in his life where he's ready to be with me, but I know what all of my friends would think if I did that: Is she just going to pretend he wasn't a prick to her? Watching how Carrie and Big's relationship was interpreted by those who knew Carrie when she was single has helped me feel better about my recent situationship getting cut short. Because even if a rocky relationship feels safe and supportive at times, it's not worth the hell you have to go through.