We are finally realising who the real star of Sex and the City was. A new book pays tribute to Miranda and her go-getting feminism, writes.
The Miranda in question is of course Miranda Hobbes, in a new book about the most relatable yet (formerly) least popular character of the Sex and The City quartet.
The one who didn’t sit around obsessing about toxic masculinity, but got on with her own stuff: at the time we were more than happy to engage with the sex and the shoes, because it was fun and funny, but today, as woken people being forced to relentlessly adult in a world polarised by Trump and Greta Thunberg, Brexit and climate catastrophe, we’d probably be listening to Miranda.
Not narcissistic Carrie, not conservative Charlotte, not unfeeling Samantha. Not in this world. Not anymore. With every passing day, their outlook and mentality dates into irrelevance. Sorry, ladies. But you are so out of time.
Yet this shift is not as grim as it sounds — aside from current events, it shows how Generation Z are far more Miranda than Gen X, the original viewers of the show. In the immortal words of a favourite tea towel, it’s all about more feminism, less bullshit.
Gen Z are rolling up their sleeves. From The Golden Girls to the Spice Girls to Lena Dunham’s Girls,we love a lady gang, but for those of us watching between 1998 and 2004, none quite so much as the Sex and The City women. (Dunham significantly places a large prominent Sex and The City poster on the wall of her Girls apartment).
With their open and frank discussions of sex and relationships, the four women were — at the time — a breath of much-needed female fresh air, even if they would have continually failed the Bechdel test. Their four way friendship, if not the details of their actual lives, rang clear and true.
And now, 15 years after the end of the final season, Miranda is having a moment — the world has finally caught up with her, as we realise how ahead of her time she was.
At the time, during the six seasons of what was then a ground-breaking series —Miranda was the driven one, the least likely to collapse in a heap over a suitor,resilient and cynical and self-contained.
She was the one with the pithiest lines about dating and men, who wore dungarees and bucket hats and skinny ties and wanted to make partner rather than be a partner. She had a baby by herself She was hotly androgynous, and had the show been written today, she’d be gender fluid and non binary at the very least.
She was the grown up one, the “the sanest member of the squad”. This is according to Lauren Garroni and Chelsea Fairless, and their new book We Should All Be Mirandas: Life Lessons from Sex & The City’s Most Underrated Character.
The authors’ idea began on Instagram, where they have been documenting the clothes from the series, @everyoutfitonsatc, to their 439,000 followers. The clothing (along with the twinkling backdrop of the city) was very much a character in itself, curated and styled by the inimitable Patricia Field.
Fast forward to 2017, when Dior’s first female creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri sent a plain white t-shirt down her debut runway show, printed with the immortal words ‘We Should All Be Feminists.’
She had taken the slogan from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous 2013 TEDx talk of the same name, which Beyoncé went on to sample, and which became part of the call to arms within post #MeToo culture.
The problem with the Dior t-shirt, despite its inclusive message,was that it retailed at a very non-inclusive $710 (€650), and did not come in large rsizes. So Garroni and Fairless created their own t-shirt, ‘We Should All Be Mirandas’, which retailed for $32 and went up to size XXXL, with 10% of profits going to a US not-for-profit, the National Immigration Law Centre, “because it’s the Miranda thing to do”.
They did a canvas bag, and a website. There was an appetite for Miranda. A need. The t-shirt inspired the book.
Advice from the sarcastic, power-blazer wearing lawyer, too busy to wax her bikini line, yet human enough to scoop discarded cake from the bin, and with a vital kindness underneath the hard ass professional shell, has been reimagined by the authors.
From the banal (“embracing your bad hair days” — although as we hurtle towards mass extinction, the very concept of a bad hair day seems both quaint and delusional) to the practical (“Make Google docs your bitch”), the book also urges us to overcome “our internalised Mirandaphobia” and to “dump that Skipper you’ve been dating”.
(Remember Skipper? The ‘Nice Guy’ in season 2 who thought being polite to women meant he was entitled to have sex with them.)
But it is Miranda’s understated yet go-getting feminism which has made her Sex and the City’s most enduring creation. Or as the Manrepeller site puts it, were Sex and The City to be released today, it would be Miranda who would be the protagonist.
Not Sarah Jessica Parker’s charming yet self-obsessed sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw, who somehow got all the Fendi bags and Manolo Blahnik shoes, plus a Manhattan apartment, on a sex columnist’s salary. (Which, unless you were offering actual sex with your sex column, made a New York flat full of fancy bags and shoes about as realistic as Samantha’s encounters with men.)
The prevailing attitudes of Carrie, Samantha, and Charlotte no longer reflect the zeitgeist. Conspicuous consumption — thousand dollar handbags — is just so naff, as is Carrie and Charlotte’s desperation to be housewives.
While Samantha’s character seems to have been portrayed primarily as a gay man in heels, both Carrie and Charlotte were, to varying degrees, simpering wet wipes bent on marriage and monogamy. We loved them, because they were funny and sweet, but today they seem oddly old fashioned, as well as entirely oblivious to their own privilege.
So much so that the internet has since invented a Woke Charlotte meme, which takes the prim Park Avenue princess, and recreates her to resonate more within the current cultural context.
Charlotte, you will remember, was a teeny bit racist on her five-star trip to Mexico (in one of the two dreadful Sex and The City movies that followed the series), just as her Wasp ex mother law Bunny was overtly racist about Charlotte’s plans to adopt Chinese children:
I don’t like Mandarin food and I don’t like Mandarin child.
Yikes. While the original Charlotte gets upset and runs off,Woke Charlotte responds:“And I don’t enjoy white supremacy, especially when it comes from within my own family. With all due respect, fuck off Bunny.”
Were the four characters to be resurrected today, you wonder where they might be at. Perhaps Carrie is still writing books on dating while married to Big, who cheats on her constantly; Charlotte is probably a Park Avenue helicopter parent; Samantha remains unchanged, enhanced by multiple face lifts; and Miranda is running for governor of New York.
Which, in real life, is exactly what Cynthia Nixon, the real life Miranda, did last year, opposing the incumbent on a progressive activist ticket. She didn’t win, but in a glorious example of how we should all be Mirandas, she gave it her best shot. She went for it, fearlessly. She made the personal the political.