#4 Carrie & Samantha (Sex & The City) vs. #13 Maggie & Emma (Playing House)

Division III: Friends from Childhood, Neighbors, & the Unexplainable

As Swells mentioned, we’ve featured multiple pairing of Sex and the City friendships, out of respect for the show and it’s arguably landmark depictions of female friendship.  I began watching the show before I’d had sex or a strong female friendship, and for better of worse, it has always been a cultural touchstone for me since it’s inception in 1998.  I go back and forth on my feelings about it, as do a lot of contemporary voices that consider feminism and media.  However, I’ve maintained a continuous love for the character of Samantha Jones, who gets plenty of press for her sexuality but not nearly enough for her friendship bona fides.

When the CW’s ‘The Carrie Diaries” cast Lindsey Gort as a young Samantha, Kim Cattrall tweeted: “So happy you’re playing fearless Sam! The key to her is her heart. She never judges those she loves”

In a comment on Coco’s post on Liv and Abby’s friendship on ‘Scandal’, I mentioned my dislike of the bold and declarative nature of friendship on Shondra Rhimes produced shows.  Not to say that the friendships on Sex and the City are a subtle thread throughout the show; at one point Charlotte suggests that the ladies have found their soul mates in each other, and frequently Carrie hints that while men come and go, the core foursome friendship is the true love story in her life. Yet the friendships feel organic and meaningful because little moments are continually woven through each episode.  It’s the breath of grand and small moments that define Samantha and Carrie’s friendships, from just discussing sex over brunch at the start of each episode, to Carrie’s support for Samantha during her breast cancer treatment.

While some of the solo friendships on Sex and the City didn’t deserve to make it to the next round, I’d argue that any friendship that features Samantha does.  I think this is in large part due to her mantra that ‘women are for friendships, men are for fucking.’  While this is an unhealthy attitude that I can’t condone, it does speak to the priority that Samantha puts on her female relationships.  Often highly sexualized female characters are only depicted as having interactions with men–mostly because you only see them fuck men. The vamp rarely gets character development.  It’s a cliché to have the highly sexualized female characters express animosity to other women, often because the sexual woman is depicted as the villain or foe of a more virtuous female character lacking in sexual self-determination.  The vamp usually only exists through the eyes of a male character and the pen of a male writer as a sexual object or plot device, as opposed to a real person with a private life.  Of course we know that Samantha Jones isn’t a femme fatal or a vamp, as in accordance with a Jungian understanding of the archetype, that character is a representation of  how the undeveloped male mind views and falsely categorizes women based on their own desires and lack of emotional intelligence.  So when I say that I war with the strengths and weaknesses of Sex and the City as a cultural milestone, a big plus for me is the depiction of a highly sexual and sex-positive woman who is not only allowed to have emotional connections with others, but is in the end defined by these emotional connections.  Samantha Jones is both a sexual and emotional character, falling in love in each season with a sexual partner while maintaining a foundational bond of friendship.  And further, I think she’s a truly quality friend.

To go back to the theme of ‘no judgement’, I turn to the scene below, where Carrie tells Samantha that she’d slept with her married ex.

As she says, judgement isn’t her style. But it’s also worth noting that the hyper-sexual icon doesn’t encourage Carrie either–she instead walks a perfect line of understanding that your friends are both adult and human, and that your number one responsibility is to listen.

And look how forgiving she is! Just saying, it would take more than a basket of muffins to get over being called a whore of epic proportions.

And she looks out for her friends, specifically Carrie in regards to her relationship with Big–as far as I can remember, she’s the only character to call him out to his face, both in the deleted scene below, which was reworked in the episode “Defining Moments”, where she confronts Big, telling him “so, just to get things straight, you and Carrie are friends right?  That girl might come off like she’s all strong and over it, but she’s fragile. And she’s my best friend. So I suggest you back off” and later venting to her date that Big isn’t good for Carrie. But she doesn’t condemn Carrie for having a weakness for Big  or lecture to her, but solidly has her back when Carrie inevitably needs it.

I’ve never seen ‘Playing House’, but considering the range of ‘Sex and the City’ friendships, this is the one that I believe deserves to make it through to the next round.

One thought on “#4 Carrie & Samantha (Sex & The City) vs. #13 Maggie & Emma (Playing House)

  1. Oh Jesus, I think I’m ovulating because my skin looks luminous and this kind of made me cry.

    I too (like many) feel conflicted toward S&TC, but you nailed something it does right. I can’t even say that I like Samantha (or any of the characters, w/the exception of Miranda’s anti-masturbation housekeeper), but yeah, there’s a lot to admire there.

    Basically, anyone who can maintain a friendship without Carrie without hiring someone to kill her and make it look like an accident is a paragon of blind acceptance.


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