When the first episode of Sex And The City debuted on June 6, 1998, viewers got a glimpse into queer life in Manhattan. Although the LGBTQ+ characters never had staring roles on SATC, they were a presence in the main four women's lives. And that's more than you could say for most other shows at the time. The pilot introduced us to Carrie's gay friend Stanford and (very briefly) a couple of drag queens who bring Miranda a birthday cake. Later in the show, Carrie dates a bisexual man and Samantha has a short relationship with a woman.
So no one could argue that SATC didn't help the world see that LGBTQ+ people, you know, exist. But, while LGBTQ+ visibility might have been enough to call a show "groundbreaking" in 1998, LGBTQ+ people now expect more from queer characters. Stanford is a flamboyant and flat stereotype of a gay man, and that doesn't push the envelope for queer people anymore. Carrie's flippant comments about bisexuality (that it's "a layover on the way to gaytown") wouldn't fly in 2018. And even Samantha's relationship with a woman (which was handled mostly well) feels gross and gratuitous next to the queer ladies who grace our TV screens today. Even Sarah Jessica Parker (aka, Carrie Bradshaw herself) recently admitted that SATC wasn't great for LGBTQ+ people (or anyone other than white women, tbh). "There were no women of color, and there was no substantial conversation about the LGBTQ community," she said at at Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival.
So, at the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw, SJP's comments bring up a few questions. How harshly should we judge a show that first aired 20 years ago? Was SATC ultimately good or bad for the LGBTQ+ community? And how do queer and trans people today really feel about the show? We reached out LGBTQ+ people to help us explore some of those questions. Read on for their thoughts.