Take cover under your Birkin because Sex and the City alum Cynthia Nixon is dropping truth bombs about the HBO show that was her bread and butter for six years. In a recent interview, Nixon opened up about SATC‘s “failings of the feminist movement” while acknowledging the show’s feminist impact during its run on HBO from 1998 to 2004. Nixon’s certainly not wrong that the show was a landmark series in terms of feminism, but wow, wow, wow, she couldn’t be more right about the problematic legacy it left behind — and the two feature films that followed in 2008 and 2010 — when you look at it through a 2019 lens.
Speaking with IndieWire, Nixon didn’t hold back when discussing how SATC hasn’t aged well in terms of its feminist politics.
“There was so much debate when [Sex and the City] came out about whether it was a feminist show or not, which I always thought was stupid — of course, it’s a feminist show,” Nixon tells IndieWire. “But I think it has a lot of the failings of the feminist movement in it. In that, it’s like white, moneyed ladies who are fighting for their empowerment. In a bit of a bubble.”
In discussing the finer points of what needed to be changed, Nixon zeroed in on how the show completely focused on the opulence factor and specifically the lives of wealthy women instead of looking at all kinds of women.
“Well, I certainly think we would not have all been white, God forbid. One of the hardest things for me — it was at the time, too — is looking back and seeing how much of it centered around money, right? And how, Steve, my [character’s] husband, was like the closest we got to a working-class guy, you know? Never mind a working-class woman, right?”
She continues, honing in on another aspect of the show that doesn’t necessarily work upon reflection, saying, “Also, I think we wouldn’t all look like that. In terms of like, the perfection factor. In terms of always looking so incredible. And I know that’s the fantasy element, and in terms of the show that was important. But I think there’s a lot of ways that people can be visually compelling without looking — quote unquote — perfect.”
Nixon, who ran for Governor of New York in 2018, isn’t wrong when it comes to understanding how the show failed depictions of women in New York, women as a whole and women living their lives in the early ’00s. SATC was great when it came to unpacking the nuances of women coming into their sexual selves: the politics of one-night stands, the benefits of masturbation, communicating your needs to a long-term partner and everything in between. But, as critics back when the show premiered noted — and critics have gone on to note throughout the years — SATC‘s reliance on showing the interior lives of privileged, wealthy white women in New York while the diverse, rich tapestry of female lives surrounding them — notably non-white women — went ignored is hard to overlook at not being a problem.
The series and the two films that followed have left a complicated legacy, and have been rightly called out for propagating xenophobia with some very racist narratives. Remember when Charlotte refused to eat food in Mexico in the first SATC movie? Remember when the women were decked out in chadors in the second film?
Nixon’s comments remind us that this show will always be a problematic fave, so yes, you’re still allowed to watch the reruns and still be a good feminist, but definitely don’t overlook the blindspots like the show did when it originally aired.