And Just Like That – What we can learn from Sex and the City’s Charlotte
Heralded as one of the most iconic and forward-thinking television shows of its time, Sex and the City took the late 90’s by storm as it placed women in the driving seat of relationships and challenged the traditional stereotypes we were used to.
Following the careers and love lives of four very different women, the successful series gave the female leads the freedom to approach their relationships like men, however one main character was perhaps the counterpoint to this approach.
Charlotte York was the traditionalist of the four protagonists.
She believed in The One, and knew in her heart if she followed her strict rules on dating, that The One would come along.
Whilst eternally optimistic, Charlotte did recognise the struggle of dating in the modern world when in one episode she frantically declares “I’ve been dating since I was 15. I’m exhausted. Where is he?”
Finally, she meets Dr Trey MacDougall. Perfect on paper, the handsome surgeon with the Park Avenue apartment, the large family compound in Connecticut, and old family money is everything that Charlotte has been looking for in a husband.
They date, she follows her self imposed rules to ensure she plays every move correctly, and before long they are engaged. The perfect wedding follows, in the perfect church with the perfect dress and the perfect honeymoon. The fairytale is complete.
Of course, viewers of the series know that their perfect marriage is anything but and despite endless effort on Charlotte’s part, they are soon headed for divorce.
Divorce was never part of Charlotte’s plan. Her mother in law all but implies that people in their position turn a blind eye to the harsh realities of an unhappy marriage and essentially grin and bear it. But for all her traditional beliefs, Charlotte is unable to do so. She wants the true happy ending, not just the mirage.
She starts divorce proceedings, and enter stage right her divorce lawyer Harry. Harry is infatuated with Charlotte and they start sleeping together. Charlotte maintains this is simply about sex as Harry can not be The One. Why not? Well as she points out he is bald, crass, he has a hairy back and speaks with his mouth full – in short, he has none of the attributes she is looking for in her perfect man.
But as Charlotte quickly realises, love doesn’t work like that. Love doesn’t care. Finally she accepts that he is the man for her, and they have a very lovely, very imperfect wedding.
Fast forward over 10 years from the last film, and we discover in the new series And Just Like That, Charlotte and Harry are still together, still very much in love, and as we see in one episode, still having a very exciting sex life! Charlotte York Goldenblatt has finally achieved what she set out to find when she was 15 – a happy, fulfilling relationship with The One.
So what can we learn from Charlotte and apply to our dating today?
I think there are three key elements to how Charlotte approached her relationships that are still valid and relatable.
Firstly, she believed. She believed that there was someone out there for her, no matter how many times the universe tried to persuade her otherwise. In her heart, no matter how many times she faced a set back, she brushed herself off and started again, because she knew that somewhere out there, he was waiting for her. Her faith may have faltered but she always returned to it, knowing it was there.
Secondly, she wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Through the series we see her consulting self help books and even attending seminars to help her on the path to true love as well as a rather memorable episode where she persuades her friends to join her at a tantric sex seminar!.
And finally, she accepted that love always doesn’t look like you think it will. She accepted that in order to find it, she had to be open to it. Had she not, she would never have given Harry a second glance and wouldn’t have had the wonderful marriage we see them still enjoying today.
We can all learn from this – be open, be optimistic and as always, be hopeful.