In praise of Charlotte York

charlotte-york

The other night I wanted to watch a mindless movie as I did mindless tasks and mostly let my mind wander (stay tuned to find out how many more times I use the word mind in this post). So, I put on the Sex & the City movie (the first one, for those who care).

I had recently watched the entire TV series for the first time all the way through. And watching it in its entirety and as a wise adult made me question a lot of things (and was also part of my inspiration in starting to blog again).

The root of my questioning laid with the characters. I hated Carrie (I’m sorry). I always remembered her as being a likable character & a stalwart of hard-headed, independent female idealism. No. She’s childish and reprehensible and spends the whole series in the same state of unwillingness to grow. She whines about everything and blames other people for all that goes wrong. Meanwhile, Samantha Jones – who I always thought of as the other favourite – struck me as a background figure who stayed relatively stunted throughout the whole series. As someone who used to view life and live life much like Samantha, I was shocked as to what extent her character belied any true depth. I want to be empowered by Samantha, but at the same time, she’s so one-dimensional and often comes off as callous and heartless. She bucks gender norms but is vilified, in many ways, by lacking depth, humanity, or purpose.

Miranda was fine but she too seemed stunted, rarely learning from mistakes. Does anyone even like Miranda? I always have thought of her as the one no one liked. (Why? Is it the hair? Is it the lack of fashion sense? Is it her pickiness or how she puts work before everything & everyone else…but then, how does Carrie live the life that she does when she hardly even seems to work? But I don’t really want to get into all of this right now. [Okay I do but really, gotta stay on track.])

And then there was Charlotte. At first I found her character boring and easily cast aside. (In fact, before the re-watch, I forgot she even existed.) But then she started to glow. Charlotte had a strong moral center. She was very sure of herself, her abilities, her worth, and what she wants in life, but she was also willing to compromise, admit to her mistakes, and grow. And I also found out that I really needed Charlotte in my life at that moment.

A few months ago I came to the realization that I want to find “my person.” I could say that I want to “settle down” – but I don’t….In fact, I feel very settled in life at the moment and I hate it. I want to find someone who I can adventure with & try new things with & go new places with. I have no interest in settling down. I could say that I want to get married but…that’s a bit down the line for me. Charlotte knew what she wanted and she went out and got it – a husband. (Okay, a husband, a failed marriage, and then another husband.) I found reassurance in this. She didn’t ever lose her character – her strong moral compass, her self-worth, her career, her ability to get shit done, her independence – in her pursuit of a companion. And she also made it very clear that it is totally okay if your goal in life is to get married and be a homemaker. There is no shame in this.

The feminist side of me has always made me feel utterly independent. Like I don’t need a man; I create my own happiness; I enjoy being single more than anything. And this was true for a number of years. This was true until I fell in love for the first time and started realizing that having a companion doesn’t mean forfeiting yourself.

That relationship didn’t work out, and I enjoyed being single again. I focused on my career and advancing myself. If I had met someone, I could have made space in my life for them, but space wasn’t readily available and so I focused on different goals.

And now I’ve gotten to the point where I want that companion and I have made room in my life for one. I want to create my life with someone else now. I ultimately want a companion more than any other thing in life. And that is totally fine. I am no less of a strong, independent career woman because of it. And thanks to Charlotte, I feel totally okay in feeling that way.

(Side note: It is totally okay if you’re like Samantha and you’re not looking for monogamy. My point is that Samantha has what she wants, but her character is poorly constructed to the point where she has no depth in the life she has chosen, which is a poor characterization considering how much outside the status quo her aspirations are. She doesn’t leave much for the viewer to admire or strive for. I say this as someone who very much used to be “a Samantha” and was vilified for it.)

Charlotte proves that life is about getting what you want – and compromising along the way, but never losing yourself in the process – and being happy. I couldn’t help but notice that in the movie, Charlotte is the only one who actually seems happy and fulfilled. She seems so glad in life, and you saw her grow along the way.

I feel like so many people – and I was caught up in this too – view Charlotte as the least interesting character in Sex & the City. She is driven and knows what she wants, which many of us don’t, and she gets what she wants – making her less alluring along the way. But in actuality, I think we should all be taking a page out of Charlotte’s book.

And so, Charlotte helped me admit that it is totally okay if your goal is to find “your person” and get married, or have kids & quit your job if you want to (I don’t – but it’s fine if you do!). What is life if you aren’t getting what you want out of it, including fulfilling relationships, and growing in character along the way. I am a Charlotte, and I have no shame in admitting that. Here’s in praise of Charlotte York and all the other women who stay true to themselves, reach their goals, & never lose their moral compass or sense of self along the way!

4 thoughts on “In praise of Charlotte York

    1. Yay! I’m glad that there’s another Charlotte lover! I’m sure that there are a lot out there, but in my remembrance of the show, there wasn’t. But she is so great. I love love love her. It’s so good to find redeeming characters in our media (and on that show!).

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  1. I love this. I’ve been a Sex and the City fan since…uh, middle school…and always rooted for Charlotte. Out of the four ladies, she’s the one who grows up and gets what she wants, and only after she challenges her worldview and gets uncomfortable.

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    1. Yes! That’s what I love about Charlotte. You kind of see Samantha try to do something new (a monogamous relationship) but her character barely changes. I just wish that you say more of them compromise, like grown women, instead of just expecting what they want to fall into their laps exactly how they want it.

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