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How Does Sex and the City’s Relationship Advice Apply to Gen-Z?

This article examines what life lessons Gen-Z can take from iconic ‘Sex and the City’ quotes on relationships, friendships, and self love.

Miranda, Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha from Sex and the City share a lighthearted bonding moment in the back of a cab in Season 1, Episode 4.

Relationships, both romantic and platonic, will never go out of style. But has Sex and the City’s (SATC’s) take on them stood the test of time? Since its recent debut on Netflix, the top streaming platform for Gen-Z, the show has sparked a lot of conversation on social media. With the late ’90s and early 2000s trends back in full swing, it’s time to question what lessons our generation can learn from the show’s iconic It Girls and which ones should be left behind.

But before we look back on the show, it’s important to acknowledge where it falls short. Sex and the City‘s backward attitude towards mental health struggles, its major lack of diversity, and the use of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people as plot devices shouldn’t be overlooked. The main characters’ transphobia, biphobia, and ignorance in the episodes “Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl…” and “Cock-a-Doodle-Do!” are unbearable to watch in 2024. While the show is far from the most progressive piece of ’90s media, it remains one of the most popular for a reason: it pushed boundaries.

So, whether you’ve become a SATC fan, or are just a casual viewer, this article will point you in the right direction of which lessons you should take from the show. We’ll explore some of Samantha, Charlotte, Carrie, and Miranda’s most iconic quotes from the series, with professional insights from Sex and Couples Therapist and CEO of Cypress Wellness Center, Dr. Katie Schubert.

A still shot from Sex and the City of Samantha looking satisfied with her brand new dildo.
Samantha is never afraid to take control of her sex life. Credit: Netflix

“I will not be judged by you or society.” – Samantha Jones

Gen-Z has fallen in love with Samantha, who is arguably the show’s most sexually liberated character. She’s open about her sex life and shows viewers the benefits of being confident in their sexuality. Her character defies conservative social standards by experimenting with her sexual identity and being candid about her casual hookups. The self-proclaimed “try-sexual” doesn’t shame others. Instead, she encourages women to embrace their desires as natural and human, even if society does not. Samantha also remains a fiercely loyal friend, providing a safe space for her friends like Carrie Bradshaw to confess their secrets, such as Carrie’s affair with Mr. Big. When she loves her friends, judging just isn’t her style.

“Love this quote- unfortunately, judgement of women in our society seems quite inevitable…I think it’s a worthy goal to let go of other’s judgements of you, but it requires a lot of work (and probably therapy!).”

– Dr. Katie Schubert

Realistically, most of us probably wish that we could be as judgment-free as Samantha. After all, she’s a fictional character for a reason. As Dr. Schubert states, it takes a lot of personal growth and mental work to truly unleash your inner Samantha. But there are ways to adopt her confidence in your daily life without having to throw a sex party right away (but if you do, make sure STD tests are mandatory).

In addition to safely exploring your sexual desires and supporting your friends, carry that Samantha self-worth through your day-to-day life. As a successful Public Relations executive, Samantha practices self-respect in the workplace. When facing discrimination for her sex life, she stands up for herself and calls out the double standard to her boss. Because of this self-respect, she also takes the initiative to leave a toxic relationship the moment she gets cheated on. So, take time to learn your worth, and remember, it’s 2024 – therapy is always a great idea.

A still shot of Charlotte York smiling on her wedding day in Sex and the City.
Charlotte is a woman who values marriage and lifelong commitment. Credit: Netflix

“I’m nice, I’m pretty, and I’m smart! I’m a catch!” – Charlotte York

Charlotte York is a more traditional girl compared to her friends, with dreams of a perfect marriage and having children. In 2024, it is much more acceptable for Gen-Z to reject these traditional life choices. So, it’s no surprise that some people find Charlotte’s character to be outdated or unrelatable. It is important to acknowledge that a lot of Charlotte’s self-worth revolves around being in love and finding the perfect man. Still, her character contributes to balancing her friend group while staying completely true to herself and her values.

“Our worth is not tied into whether we’re a “catch” or not. Would have loved this quote if it stopped at “I’m nice, I’m pretty, and I’m smart!”

– Dr. Katie Schubert

While all of the girls on SATC focus on men, Charlotte heavily relies on finding a husband to feel fulfilled. As Dr. Schubert adds, our worth should not depend on our ability to find someone to “catch” us. However, we can still learn from Charlotte’s high standards for her future husband. Because of a failed marriage that didn’t satisfy her sexually or maternally, Charlotte learns to stand up for her desires. She sets different standards for men that don’t center around class and status.

Through several failed relationships and her failed marriage, Charlotte redefines the term “soulmate,” recognizing how fulfilling friendship is. She always believes in happy endings, despite her love life’s shortcomings. While her traditional values sometimes clash with the rest of the girls, Charlotte is always there for her friends. Even when struggling with fertility issues, she sets her pain aside to throw Miranda a baby shower. Charlotte teaches us that true class isn’t about your zip code; it’s about the faith you have in yourself, your dreams, and your friends.

A still shot of Carrie Bradshaw talking on a corded landline phone in Sex and the City.
Carrie is often seen chatting on the phone with her girlfriends (or Mr. Big). Credit: Netflix

Gen-Z has crowned Carrie Bradshaw the ultimate messy It Girl on social media. From maintaining her iconic designer wardrobe on a columnist’s salary to her toxic situationship with Mr. Big, Carrie is an easy character to love and hate. Since the show’s release, journalists and writers alike have rightfully expressed their disdain for Carrie’s poor decision-making. Even to the general public, Carrie Bradshaw’s character serves as a cautionary tale. Her on-again, off-again situationship with Mr. Big shows the importance of prioritizing communication and emotional well-being in a relationship.

Carrie often falls into a cycle of repeating mistakes before recognizing and learning from them. So, to avoid Carrie-level relationship disasters, focus on reflecting on your own needs and setting proper boundaries. Also, Carrie remains the staple messy main character by doing what seems impossible: keeping herself together. She manages to maintain a balanced life amidst writing her column, working side gigs such as writing for Vogue, and compiling a collection of articles for a book. Through all of this, Carrie’s friendships remain a constant. They keep her grounded and provide her with tough love and support when she needs it most.

“Friendships are lovely supports for all of us.”

-Dr. Katie Schubert

So, my lesson for you is to do it even better than Carrie. Try not to lose sight of maintaining a balanced schedule or routine. Even if it’s organized chaos, you should try to have your own version of normal. Although Carrie can get sucked into her own little world and lose track of her friendships, she always comes back around and remains the go-to friend for any issues. She shows us that no matter the chaos in our lives, prioritizing friendship keeps us grounded.

A still shot of Miranda from Sex and the City leading a meeting of lawyers, looking serious and focused.
Miranda is determined and driven in her career, friendships, and relationships. Credit: Netflix

“Relationships are not about playing games. They’re about mature and honest communication.” – Miranda Hobbes

Miranda’s character shows viewers the power of being a hardworking woman. Balancing a demanding job as a corporate lawyer with her sex life and friendships, Miranda teaches us that it is possible to achieve success without compromising our values or personal goals. When Miranda decides to have a child, she learns to stand up for herself in a male-dominated workplace, as she demands to work fewer hours to be more present in her child’s life. Because she has an incredible sense of self-worth and is confident in the work she produces, her request was honored.

“All healthy relationships should strive for mature and honest communication. Games kill relationships.”

-Dr. Katie Schubert

Throughout much of the series, we see Miranda enjoying the life she has built for herself. She likes to do things her way, which is an adjustment when she gets into relationships. For example, when Miranda first enters a relationship with her boyfriend, Steve, she struggles to adjust to their different schedules. Steve prefers sexual intimacy in the morning, while Miranda prefers it at night. However, they both end up adjusting their routines to accommodate each other’s needs. Miranda shows us that change and compromise are necessary in relationships.

As far as Miranda’s friendships, no matter what she is going through, she remains a voice of logic. Although she can be harsh, Miranda famously warns Carrie about the emotional risks of getting back together with Mr. Big and advises Charlotte against marrying her first husband too quickly. Even though Miranda expresses her concerns, she still always supports her friends’ decisions because she loves them unconditionally. Although they sometimes brush off her initial advice, her friends almost always come face-to-face with exactly what she warns them about. So, be honest but not hurtful to your friends. To be a voice of reason, it is most important to be consistently supportive.

@brookejustine

mid 20s – early 30s girlies we got this 💋🍸👠 #30s #mid20s #carriebradshaw #quarterlifecrisis #satc

♬ original sound – alex

“But people do live happily ever after!” – Charlotte York

Through all of the show’s flaws and outdated tendencies, it aids tremendously in busting the misogynistic myth that a woman’s worth in society plummets as soon as she turns 30. By simply showing the lives of a fictional group of successful, powerful, and openly sexual women, the show allows us to know that although Hollywood puts an expiration date on women, life doesn’t have to unless you let it. And speaking of Hollywood, rom-com romances are so a thing of the past.

“Happy is what we make of it… I love the idea of striving for happiness, but this often makes people feel like they’re falling short of expectations. Unhappy with work? Unhappy with your relationships? It’s ok. We don’t need to be happy all the time, that’s a societal myth.”

-Dr. Katie Schubert

Single life lover Samantha ends up in a healthy relationship with a man thirteen years her junior. Child hater and certified career woman Miranda has a baby of her own. Situashionship queen Carrie can’t help but deny her love for Mr. Big, and misses happy endings Charlotte goes through a failed marriage to find her perfect match with a not-so-storybook prince charming who never fails to make her smile. Overall, Sex and the City allows us to see that happy endings are simply what you make them out to be.

Written By

Hello! I am a senior Creative Writing major at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with minors in Public Relations and Gender Studies. My expertise spans academic, creative, journalistic, and public relations writing. As a lifestyle writer for Trill Mag, I cover everything from sexual wellness and relationships to analyses of your favorite brands. Stay tuned for insightful articles from a voice you can trust.

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