Ever since 1998, Sex and the City has been a liberating, exciting, and wildly relatable ride for women of various generations. Because the show was centered around four women openly and unapologetically talking about sex, many would describe Sex and the City as "empowering." That is, except, for its star Sarah Jessica Parker.
In a new "Actor on Actors" video by Variety with Parker and Michelle Pfeiffer, the actor who played Carrie Braddshaw looks back at the iconic show and why it broke the mold. SATC was able to do so because it "wasn't intentionally empowering," according to Parker. As someone who could watch SATC any time of day or day or the week, I find her statements about the show's purpose and intention, ironically, incredibly empowering.
"Do you feel like Sex and the City was ahead of its time in terms of female empowerment?" Pfeiffer asked Parker. The star deflected the notion immediately. This was surprising, considering the show was also described as "shocking" and "controversial" by Pfeiffer — and Parker agreed with those adjectives.
"I don't think empowerment was a word that was ever used once on our set, in a writers' room, among the female actors," Parker responded. "It wasn't intentionally empowering... I don't know that [our showrunner] would've suggested that empowerment was an aim or goal — or even our primarily-female writing staff," she revealed. So, what was SATC's goal?
"They liked telling stories about women that were authentic and often funny," she explained. The drive to bring real, honest female stories to light in a way that wasn't done before is pretty powerful. And maybe the show wasn't necessarily "trying" to break the mold. The writers simply just told the stories they knew, regardless of how the public would react to them. And that, in turn, broke the mold.
You can skip ahead to the 18:45 minute mark to see for yourself:
When talking about the boundary-pushing elements of the show, Parker said,
"The depiction of that kind of intimate relationship among female friends was brand-new. A female character who spoke so candidly about sex and sexual politics — her curiosity about behavior... because she was a writer, she could ask lots of provocative questions."
Regardless of how much SATC is referred to as empowering, Parker continued to claim otherwise. "The show was really about love, it wasn't about empowerment," she said. "I think if you try to write a show that's 'empowering,' it would have been yucky and self-conscious and contrived and stiff." I love the point she makes and, even more, how she doesn't back down.
Parker's sentiment is important and really can apply to anything in life. Unapologetically voicing and being who you are without thinking about the outcome is one of the most empowering things someone can do.