In 2004, Thousands of upscale urban women were grieving the end of the wildly successful Sex and the City, the HBO series about four 30-something women tackling self-actualization through their romantic relationships. During weekly viewing parties, women watched Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte struggle with whether worldly success had any meaning without Mr. Right. Even as true love eluded them, the characters' circle provided the support they needed to keep going—they celebrated each other's love interests and sexual exploits and consoled each other through serial humiliations, sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, and loneliness.
The backbone of the show was the eternal human dilemmas the four friends faced: the fear of commitment versus a ticking biological clock; the difference between being cherished and being consumed; the tension between pleasure and sacrifice. We, the audience, pondered the apparent mysteries of love. Is it true that you're nobody until somebody loves you? Can women have sex like men? Can we be happy alone?
To find answers Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte changed sexual partners as often as their Manolo Blahniks, trading their sexual power for the often-distant chance at emotional and economic security. Every relationship—no matter how brief—was a transaction. When they failed to acquire the symbols of female success—primarily a man—they resorted to the most convenient form of self-help: Shopping. A pair of $500 Jimmy Choo shoes soothed hurts. Powerlessness was replaced by a Prada handbag. The disappointment of love was replaced by the joy of Gucci. It is a society where everything is consumable.