If ‘Sex and the City’ Came Out Today, Miranda Would Be the Protagonist

Photo by Hulton Archive via Getty Images. 

This story first ran in June 2017, but Cynthia Nixon’s recent gubernatorial bid contributes a whole new chunk of evidence to my thesis. If ‘Sex and the City’ came out today, do you think Miranda would get political?? Let’s discuss.

Out of the four main characters on Sex and the City, Miranda is by far the most universally maligned. Her name is the dreaded result at the end of a Buzzfeed personality quiz. No one wants to be the Miranda. She is basically Hufflepuff.

Bearing these truths in mind, what I am about to say may shock you. Contrary to popular opinion, Miranda is actually the best character on Sex and the City. Not only that, but if the show had premiered in 2017 instead of 1997, I’m fairly positive she would have been the protagonist instead of Carrie.

Did I just blow your mind? Is the coffee that was in your mouth now dripping down your shirt? Don’t worry. It will all start to make sense soon.

Let’s start by breaking down the women’s personalities via the following conversation from the first episode of season four (appropriately titled “The Agony and the Ex-Tacy”)

Miranda: Soulmates only exist in the Hallmark aisle in Duane Reade drugs.
Charlotte: I disagree. I believe that there’s that one perfect person out there to complete you.
Miranda: And if you don’t find him, what? You’re incomplete? That’s so dangerous!
Carrie: Alright, first of all, the idea that there’s only one out there, I mean why don’t I just shoot myself right now? I’d like to think that people have more than one soulmate.
Samantha: I agree. I’ve had hundreds.

Charlotte and Samantha lack the complexity to qualify as potential protagonist material in any decade given they are essentially walking bundles of stereotypes (Charlotte; a prudish Pollyanna and Samantha, a sex-crazed vixen), so that leaves Carrie and Miranda as the only viable contenders. Emily Nussbaum once pointed out that “Before ‘Sex and the City,’ the vast majority of iconic ‘single girl’ characters on television, from That Girl to Mary Tyler Moore and Molly Dodd, had been you-go-girl types — which is to say, actual role models.” In 1998, Carrie Bradshaw was the first of her kind: a bonafide female anti-hero. But consider the optics of Carrie’s personality and aesthetic in 2017. She’s a try-hard. She only tells people what they want to hear. Her enormous apartment and shoe collection are laughably unrealistic. She eats politically incorrect meat. Her aspirational lifestyle and personhood is held together by tenuous strings of deluded impracticality. Miranda, on the other hand, never tries to cover up the dauntless core of her raw, unfiltered self. She is unapologetically blunt and tells the truth — a combination often misconstrued as cynical. By 2017 standards, Carrie is the equivalent of an overly edited Instagram. She is the idea of a person. A snapshot. A fragment. Miranda’s authenticity is radical in comparison, and far better suited to our present-day hunger for “realness.” That’s what brands and identities are built on nowadays (Glossier, THINX, Jennifer Lawrence). In 2017, the raw, unfiltered self reigns supreme

Their respective personal styles reinforce this tipping of the scales in Miranda’s favor. Carrie is frequently celebrated for her bold fashion choices, and I would be the first to support her prowess in this regard. I frequently steal ideas from her various outfit combinations, which are an actual treat to behold across the show’s six seasons. But I take issue with the fact that Carrie remains Sex and the City’s single, uncontested fashion icon while Miranda is dismissed as the least stylish of the group, especially given that Miranda’s wardrobe is actually more in line with the proclivities of today’s fashion climate. In her signature sleek suits, black turtlenecks, trench coats, tiny sunglasses and effortless pixie cut, Miranda essentially looks like a French woman in Céline. Her more adventurous ensembles, like an overalls/puffer jacket combo, are reminiscent of Vetements and Balenciaga. Dare I suggest that her style might actually fit seamlessly into the “cool girl aesthetic” of 2017? She’s protagonist material any way you slice it.

Miranda’s relationships further underscore this claim. Skipper, Steve and Robert are her three love interests — a younger man, a man with a different socioeconomic status and a man of a different race. I realize these are paltry examples of boundary-pushing by today’s standards (and even now, the television industry still has a long way to go when it comes to tackling issues like stereotypical gender roles and lack of diversity), but in comparison to the other women, Miranda is by far the most progressive when it comes to relationships. Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha hook up with the same type of man over and over: handsome, financially stable, older and white. It was supposed to be “shocking” when Charlotte married a bald guy. A bald guy! I’m not forgetting Samantha’s brief dalliance with lesbianism. Unfortunately the show treated that relationship as little more than a joke, which renders it somewhat moot if I’m giving credit for bucking normativeness. Almost everything about the way Sex and the City depicts relationships would be problematic in 2017, but Miranda’s certainly come closest to meeting the higher expectations of today.

As I assembled the disparate pieces of this argument, I’ll admit I started to feel a bit badly for trying to kick Miss Bradshaw off her throne. I have a lot of genuine affection for Carrie. Her clothes are amazing. She’s massively entertaining. I rooted for her when I was introduced to the show in high school, and I still root for her now. But I stand by my conviction that Miranda has been dealt an unfair hand. The traits her character is frequently reviled for — cynicism, honesty, drive — are, in my opinion, the traits that make her character the most interesting. Miranda is the 2017 protagonist Sex and the City deserves; Carrie would likely fill the role of her stylish, witty, adorably deluded, love-obsessed sidekick. At the end of the day, I’d rather be a Miranda. Wouldn’t you?

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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