Carrie-d away

Sex and the City bridges the age gap

Illustration: Emily Flake

My grandmother is 84 years old. She’s never voted outside the Republican party, was married to my grandfather from the age of 20 and can count the times she’s missed church on one hand. She does not own a DVD player or have cable.

But my grandmother watches Sex and the City.

Not only does she watch it, she talks about it frequently. Like little TBS bombs, she’ll throw a SATC anecdote into conversation, which she did on the phone with me the other night.

“Darling, you simply haven’t found your true love yet! Like for Carrie, Big was her true love.”

And I sit there in shock, because not only does my grandmother watch SATC—she has the vernacular down.

She goes on: “Honey, you’ve had many, many frames of reference [Thanks, Gram!], but I feel they may have been just lust mixed with like. It simply has to be love, like what Carrie has for Big. She has all these other interludes, but it’s still Big.

“I can see why Carrie would be so nutsy-crazy about Big. [I promise you this is verbatim because I was typing as she talked.] There was one episode where she was with that Yankee. They run into Big and she has heart palpitations because she has such strong feelings for him, and she couldn’t even finish the date!”

Holy crap—am I talking about Sex and the City with my grandmother?!

I remain calm. “So…what is it exactly that you like about the show?” I ask.

“Well,” she whispers conspiratorially, “I do think their promiscuity is unbelievable. But I like the friendship among these four women. Of course, I identify with Charlotte the most, but even she’s promiscuous!”

There you go, ladies. We’re an entire generation of sluts in the eyes of our grandparents.

And yet, I’m fascinated by my grandmother’s perspective on the lifestyle portrayed there.

SATC is so much about the sheer number of relationship choices. Was your generation happier with fewer choices?” I ask her.

She pauses. “Yes. World War II came at a time when we were all dating. But when the war was over, what we wanted more than anything was to settle down, have a family and live happily ever after. Now, well, there’s definitely an element of [the grass is always greener]—that’s what Sex and the City focused on.

“But,” she adds, “I’m not sure we were as focused on ‘having it all.’ There’s some television show—Stepford? Stepford house…”

“Desperate Housewives?”

“Yes! It’s all about bottomless desire. It should be called Insatiable. No matter how much you have, how many boyfriends, how many material things…it can never be enough. You become addicted and you need more.

“The way I see it,” she says, “you go about your everyday business and love will come. When it does, you’ll know it. Just be natural about it.

“Remember that episode?” she asks. “Miranda turns to the girls and says, ‘What’s wrong with us, four intelligent women with great careers and all we talk about is our boyfriends?! I’m outta here!’”

I laugh. I do remember that episode, and Miranda made a damn good point. I just never thought my grandmother would be the one to point it out to me.Why do we bright, curious, engaging women waste so much time getting worked up about boys?

“Don’t feel bad, darling,” she consoles me. “I think it’s a deep physiological and psychological yearning to find your life’s partner. And have babies! We’re just wired that way! Even Samantha.”

Oh Lord. My grandmother just said, “Even Samantha.”

Thank you, SATC. A generation gap has officially closed.

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See previous Julia Allison on dating