The more I watched, the more ways I saw the show mirror BSC, from the storyline conceits to the mandatory weekly meet-ups. Sure, Carrie and the gals may have been ordering morning French fries at the coffee shop instead of chowing down on pizza in an adolescent bedroom, but the rituals were the same, and the friendship dramas — getting through an illness, struggling with parents, moving across town, breakups and heartbreaks — were variations on the same themes.
What's more, the show began to seep into my life in the same way the books did. Suddenly, I was emboldened to wear sequins to lecture halls, and go to frat parties in voluminous taffeta (no kidding, that happened a couple of times). On a more intimate note, Samantha's robust sex life was encouragement to undergo exploratory adventures of my own — curbed, of course, by a few of the Charlotte-approved rules.
I'm not alone in this: Show me a woman who says she isn't sure if she's more of a Carrie than a Miranda, and I'll show you someone who's probably bluffing. This isn't to say that women are limited to being Kristy/Miranda, Stacey/Samantha, Mary Anne/Charlotte, or Claudia/Carrie. But, while the characters from the books and the television series — and the archetypes they represent — may be limited, these women are all early sketches of self-definition.
With minor exceptions, my slumber-party days are behind me. But I recently came across some old Baby-Sitters Club books at a thrift store, which I bought and am keeping by my bedside again. And sometimes — when I am the sole controller of the remote — I go back and visit the gals somewhere on the Upper East Side of HBO reruns. In the last BSC book — #131: The Fire At Mary Anne's House — the Spier family considers leaving town for good when, as the title suggests, their house burns down. It takes a conversation with one of her best friends to help Mary Anne finally come to terms with the wreckage of her childhood home, and move forward. The final episode of SATC has a similar theme: Carrie, deeply unhappy in Paris, can't admit how she truly feels. Her best friends intervene, and send the love of her life halfway across the world to bring her home.
Reliving the endings of both series recently, I was reminded of why I loved them both so much: In a pop culture world filled with stories about women tearing each other down, BSC and SATC were about building one another up. The transition from the girls in the books to the women in the show may not be perfectly seamless, but in certain moments it's absolutely clear where one series left off and the other began.