The Hard Facts: Realistic or Not, Friends Want “Sex”

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Ticket sales for the sequel to ‘Sex and the City’ are currently 81 percent of ticket sales happening on Fandango.com. … According to a survey Fandango issued Monday of more than 2,000 ticket buyers—of which 94% were women, the statement noted—nearly 80 percent of the moviegoers are going in groups with other women, while only 7 percent are going to bring a date.” (CNN.com, “’Sex and the City 2’ Ticket Sales ‘Looking Good’” May 25, 2010)

It cannot go unnoticed on this blog that Sex and the City 2 comes out at midnight tonight. These days, I feel like SATC—not the characters so much as the entire franchise—is at once my BFF and my nemesis. It’s perhaps the single most in-your-face pop culture model of female friendship, and thus serves as both the pinnacle of what I’m striving for as well as the driving force behind my without-gals-to-brunch-with-I-am-nothing-ness.

I’m not the only person who gets mixed messages from Carrie and friends. Feminists seem to vascillate between celebrating the show for empowering women and hating it for focusing so much on the need for a man. Upon the 2004 series finale, The Guardian wrote a piece in which a number of experts spoke out on the show’s impact and the only thing they each seemed to agree on was that ultimately it was more about friendship than it was about love:

“It’s almost given [women] permission to have female friendships that are more important than anything else.”

“Before feminism, women were told that they had to be wary of other women because they would steal your man. But what feminism was in part about was friendship between women, which is what Sex and the City shows.”

“What made Sex and the City worm its way into so many women’s hearts, I think, is the way that it foregrounds female friendship. That sounds counter-intuitive, given that it is meant to be about the hunt for a good man, but this show is intensely idealistic about the way that women can get unconditional love from one another.”

Let me be clear. I loved Sex and the City when it was on. I enjoyed the last movie, and already have plans to see the new one. I’m part of the nearly 80% going with friends—the same Chicago ladies I saw the last one with—though we might wear sweat pants as a general stand against stilettos at the movie theater. (According to that Fandango study, 53% percent of ticket buyers plan to dress up for the occasion, and I just can’t think of much that sounds less comfortable than watching a movie in heels. Yes, I know I’ll be sitting, but still.)

I’m excited to revisit my old onscreen friends, though nervous I might leave feeling more unfulfilled friendwise than when I got there. And this isn’t just my craziness. Social comparison theory says that “there is a drive within individuals to look to outside images in order to evaluate their own opinions and abilities.” The SATC gang is an image which many women use to evaluate their own friend situations. And though I think the deep friendships between all four women might not be entirely realistic, that doesn’t stop me from striving for something similar. I’m optimistic. I mean, I’m here, aren’t I?

Do you think the Sex and the City friendships are possible? Does watching the show/movie make you more satisfied with your female friendships or less? And would you ever be one of the 7% who are bringing a date??

10 Comments

Filed under Everything I Know I Learned on TV, Famous Friendships

10 responses to “The Hard Facts: Realistic or Not, Friends Want “Sex”

  1. I love watching it too. It’s sort of a perfect friendship fantasyland for me – where you have 3 amazing friends you can call anytime and they’re always free for Sunday brunch and random weekday coctails and everyone looks amazing ALL THE TIME! Sure, I think it’s aspirational but not necessarily totally realistic. So I use it as a jumping off point. To inspire me to build strong friendship bonds…while knowing we won’t be hanging out in designer dresses at $200 a meal restaurants. You know?

    XO
    Lenore

  2. “Feminists seem to vascillate between celebrating the show for empowering women and hating it for focusing so much on the need for a man.” Why is it bad for us to need each other? It’s the human condition! I consider myself a feminist, and I think it’s very natural for women to need men and men to need women. Just as it’s natural for us to need our friendships. I think it’s kind of whacky when people expect us to go through life alone. Yes, we have to be happy with ourselves and love ourselves first…but sharing that happiness and love is what life is all about!

  3. First off – I would never bring a guy to that movie! It’s definitely something to see with your girlfriends. I will be * hopefully * going to it tomorrow night with a girlfriend that lives in a smaller town in MN. I can’t imagine there will be throngs of people waiting in line, but I could be surprised. I hope I am right because I am really looking forward to seeing it & if it sells out in her one-horse town, I will be pissed…

    A single woman approaching the 30 year mark, I focus less on the friendships and more on the fact that these ladies were single well into their 30s… It probably sounds sad that I need a cast of fictitious characters to feel like i am going to be ok, but I don’t have any friends that are single and turning 30, so I guess I have to rely on make believe people (and the writers behind this fabulous show).

    I can see similiarities in the friendships between the women, but it would be nearly impossible to replicate what they have in real life – at least in my world. I am lucky if I can get my group of girlfriends together for brunch once a month!

  4. It always leaves me wanting those types of relationships, which I feel like (oddly enough…) I have with some blogger friends, but not necessarily “in real life”
    And I loved the show… but the movies… I just can’t get that excited for!

  5. I agree with Stefanie re needing a man.

    As for SATC and its depiction of female friendships, I actually think the show gets it right. I think the fantasyland element is the setting and the clothes and the situations. But when the women relate to each other and how they relate to each other – I think it’s pretty spot on. Especially when they chastise each other, which it looks like Charlotte is going to to do Carrie in the the movie. Those are the moments I love, the moments where the friendships become more than fabulous brunches.

  6. I loved the TV show and I just recently saw the first movie via Netflix so I can see this new one and not feel lost.

    I’d like to believe that four women living big-city lives can get together as often and converse as intimately and uninterrupted as the SATC cast. But from experience, the spontaneity only worked for me in high school and college. These girls night out get calendared weeks in advance. I have intimate conversations with women friends sometimes, but often, there’s a husband or a kid around which prevents most conversations to get too deep.

    Thanks for a though-provoking post.

  7. I’ve been a SATC fan for a long time now and I watch it mainly for the friendships portrayed in the show. Maybe it’s because I lack the camaraderie that these women seem to share in real life – most of my friends are nowhere near me so watching 4 women get together for weekly relationship/career updates, new restaurant exploration and coffee/shopping dates are not realistic for me, but I can certainly dream…

  8. I never watched SATC the show, didn’t see the first movie and have no plans to see the new release, therefore I have no ground to stand on regarding your questions regarding SATC. And in the same breath, regarding your last question? I’m probably part of the 1% of women who will not be going to the movie ever, stag or with a date. =)

  9. Ana

    It took me a while to come around to the whole SATC phenomenon (I started watching at the VERY end of the show, and ended up watching the rest on demand)…I precisely DIDN’T want to watch it, because the title, and my friends’ recaps, suggested a raunchy show about one-night-stands & women bitching about the evils of men.

    Once I actually started watching it though, I was enthralled by the romance—of the girls & their friendships. I watch it like I watch Disney movies for fantasy romantic encounters and happily-ever-after, it leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling that this kind of close-knit non-judgemental, 24/7 friendship can exist & I still look at it as my friendship goal!

    I am going to see the movie, though honestly it sounds stupid. Abu Dabhi? what the what?

  10. Pingback: Flocking Together « MWF Seeking BFF

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