Few television shows rival Sex and the City for the coveted position of sexiest series. Anyone can toss a few hot, young bodies in front of a camera, yell “action!”, and deem it binge-worthy visual entertainment. We’re looking at you, Love Island. It’s something entirely different to mingle the promiscuity of four attractive middle-aged women—Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha—with the seductive appeal of New York City. Every situation becomes an opportunity to order a dirty martini from a swanky bar and act immoral. Taxi rides with an attractive stranger turn into lip-locked embraces in the back seat; a routine cleaning at the dashing dentist’s office ends with an exchange of phone numbers; casual dog walks through the park always seem to result in intertwined leashes (and limbs) with the cute guy from the building next door. It’s New York—anything’s possible.
While Sex and the City has been critiqued for inaccurate portrayals of life in the big city—Carrie Bradshaw’s extravagant lifestyle and closet full of Jimmy Choos on a blogger’s budget feel highly questionable—its uncensored, unabashed depictions of the trials, tribulations, and liberations of womanhood and sex have made the comedy-drama series a huge success. Whether it’s tossing back one too many cosmopolitans at an art gallery in the West Village, or eating Chinese takeout in your bra and underwear on the floor of a studio apartment, Sex and the City speaks to the New York woman in all of us.
Though each leading lady of Sex and the City has her fair share of steamy scenes across the series’ six seasons, Samantha Jones reigns supreme. Played by Kim Cattrall, Samantha’s staple blonde bob, poised self-confidence, and strong sex drive are nothing short of iconic. Samantha’s story mostly revolves around her numerous sexual escapades—her self-proclaimed superfreak status is facilitated by her identification as a “try-sexual” (meaning she’ll try anything once).
Carrie is often thought of as Sex and the City’s resident fashion guru for her trendsetting and often questionable style choices, but lest we forget Samantha Jones’s commendable contributions to the fashion world of the early 2000s. Emboldened by her overt sexuality, Samantha’s wardrobe reflects her risque lifestyle: slinky slip dresses with plunging necklines, lavish furs and feathers, and animal prints galore converge to create Samantha’s signature style. Whether she’s touring an apartment on the Upper East Side or scanning the dancefloor for her next sexual conquest, Samantha’s attire is ready to be flaunted and/or shed at any moment.
Aside from criticism leveled at its unrealistic presentation of the “average” New Yorker’s lifestyle, Sex and the City has also been accused of a gross lack in diversity, being too consumerist, and being anti-feminist. Conventionally constructed understandings of men and women have shifted dramatically in the last five years, let alone the sixteen that have passed since the Sex and the City first aired. These days, the show’s narrative—four women, who are otherwise successful and independent, constantly pining after the affections of sub-par men—feels exhausting and uncomfortable for many viewers. Thankfully, the notion that a woman’s true happiness is necessitated by her finding the perfect man has become largely obsolete. We remain cautiously optimistic about this.
However, anti-feminist critique of Sex and the City seems a subjective stance, especially when considering the vastly different plotlines of each character: Miranda’s successful career as a lawyer and Charlotte’s struggles with infertility, for example, offer two totally different versions of the way the show explores feminism. And fear not, feminist fans of Sex and the City, for you can find solace in Sam Jones. Queen of all things relating to the bedroom, Samantha’s refusal to submit to slut-shaming is one of the many ways she demonstrates her feminist tendencies. In Season 5, for example, she fiercely defends herself from her friends’ judgment of her sex life: “I will not be judged by you or society. I will wear whatever and blow whomever I want so long as I can breathe and kneel!” I don’t know that modern-day society has ever witnessed a more fervent declaration of feminism. Additionally, as the oldest of the foursome, Samantha represents the normalization of single women well into their thirties and forties continuing to indulge in their libido and actively seek sex from numerous partners.
Balancing boozy brunch, blowjobs, and badass feminism has never been more artfully demonstrated. Samantha Jones embodies the essence of the ideal woman: one who exudes confidence, exercises an undeniably strong will, and possesses the bravery to defend her personal choices, sexual and otherwise. Her unwavering loyalty to her friends and to herself is a key reason that Sex and the City is able to escape the most vitriolic critiques regarding its lack of female liberation. Ultimately, Samantha Jones teaches us to seize the day (and the man) by the balls, and to succumb to the superfreak that exists in all of us.
By Gabriella Ferrigine