The Rise Of Samantha And Miranda

November 27th 2015

Last month, I revisited old episodes of HBO's "Sex and the City" and found myself profoundly annoyed with Carrie Bradshaw, the main character. When I started watching the series in college, I thought Carrie led the dream life as a columnist in Manhattan. With the exception of her waspy pal Charlotte York, Carrie seemed to be the most balanced in her group of four friends. Miranda Hobbes the lawyer is intelligent but extremely cynical and PR powerhouse Samantha Jones rejects traditional relationships so she can sleep with anyone she pleases.

Since "Sex and the City" first aired in 1998, however, a lot has changed in our society. Though the 1990s was a progressive time, women nowadays are even more encouraged to pursue their careers and marry later in life than they were nearly 20 years ago. So while "Sex and the City" was revolutionary and shocking when it debuted because it followed the sex lives of women, the more interesting characters in 2015 are Miranda and Samantha, both of whom were considered more unconventional when the show first aired. But in recent years, many have come to see that Carrie can be annoying, makes poor relationship decisions, and is always selfish; Charlotte is a little bit of a basic bitch, and Miranda and Samantha have been the most admirable ones all along. (And if you've known this from the beginning, you're a better person than I am).

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Charlotte slut-shames women for sleeping with a guy too soon and Carrie only ever talks about herself. The other two, however, are more comfortable with who they are and don't fixate over how men view them. While male characters, Skipper Johnston and Smith Jerrod obsess over Miranda and Samantha in the series, these ladies call the shots with their partners because they don't need the validation of boyfriends to feel complete. They both love their jobs and know how to enjoy their own company.

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Though late film critic Roger Ebert once called Samantha "sexaholic slut," many female fans today embrace Samantha for her sexual freedom.

"Samantha crashes through ... subtle but ubiquitous slut-shaming by being open and unabashed about her sex life, recognizing that she has the autonomy to choose what she does with her body and her life," Fem magazine columnist Dana Yu wrote two years ago. "Although there’s definitely valid criticism [of] Sex and the City for assorted reasons, they at least got one thing right, and her name is Samantha Jones."

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Samantha also doesn't care what other people think of her. As she says in one episode, "If I worried what every bitch in New York was saying about me, I'd never leave the house."

Like Samantha, Miranda is also ahead of her time. As pointed out by the Guardian, Miranda asks the women at one point, "How does it happen that four such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends?"

When she marries Steve Brady, with whom she has a son, she avoids becoming a Bridezilla because she's not a showy person who is all about the nuptials ceremony. Though her friends purposely hide the fact that Samantha has breast cancer so as not to ruin Miranda's wedding, Miranda finds out anyway and tells them that she doesn't care about having a special day. All she wants is to know how her buddy is doing. It's this selflessness that sets Miranda apart from the others and shows her priorities are right.

Miranda is also extremely financially and emotionally independent. She buys her own apartment, hustles like no other at the law firm, and even calls out her managers when they shame her after having a baby.

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"While Carrie was trying to make sense of her dizzying relationships with Big and Charlotte was penciling 'husband hunting' into her daily routine, Miranda was advancing her career," Bustle's Tracy Dye wrote earlier this year. "Of course, this isn't to shame Carrie and Charlotte's choices — quite the contrary — but it's still inspirational that Miranda was clearly dedicated to her career."

Despite being somewhat of a Debbie Downer, which made her unpopular when the show first came out, Miranda is a realist, and she doesn't settle for the kind of unreliable men that Charlotte and Carrie put up with for so long. When her husband Steve cheats on her in the first "Sex and the City" movie, she makes zero excuses for him, even though it's out of character for him and they haven't had sex in months. Carrie, meanwhile, allows Mr. Big to walk all over her with his womanizing tendencies throughout the series no matter much the other gals hate him and how many awful things he does.

How "Sex and the City" paved the way for "Girls"

In 2012, eight years after "Sex and the City" ended, HBO debuted Lena Dunham's comedy series, "Girls," which is also about sex and dating in New York. Dunham said earlier this year that "Sex and the City" was very significant to her own show because it enabled "Girls" to cover what it's like to have sex in your twenties.

"Obviously, we at Girls love Sex and the City ... It paved the way for us to do what we're doing," Dunham said. "I remember seeing the pilot of Sex and the City and my jaw being on the floor, like, 'They're doing this on television?' because it felt like this honest portrayal of female friendship, particularly, that I hadn't seen before."

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Sarah Jessica Parker, who portrayed Carrie on "Sex and the City," agrees that her show helped inspire the boldness of "Girls."

“HBO was very encouraging of the beyond-camera role I played, and I feel that had we not done it, I don't know that would have existed for 'Girls,'" Parker told Net-A-Porter in 2013. "I also think [Dunham] came along understanding her voice and with the support of a producing partner [Judd Apatow] experienced enough to say she is capable of this, she needs to be in charge of the story as it's her voice. I do feel 'Sex & The City's' success made that possible, and it would have been different otherwise."