Once again, I am rewatching Sex and the City and loving it. A lot of the jokes don’t hit quite right anymore, and the episode on bisexuality was physically painful to sit through, but at the core of this show is a lot of great material. It’s vital to remember how revolutionary it was at the time, to have women openly discussing sex and pleasure - the fact that women could even focus on their pleasure! It was a huge step in many ways, and as we learn more, we understand how it could’ve been even more revolutionary for certain groups and in terms of representation.
But as I was watching an episode last night, I couldn’t help but wonder how different the show would be in this decade? Or even just with the introduction of dating apps?
For apps such as Tinder, Happn and Bumble have completely flipped over the dating world. To the extent that watching them get a date on the street or in a bar feels completely foreign to me - people just ask for your number?! Namely because no one even calls anymore, you’re lucky to wake up to a “Gd morning” Facebook message or wink emoji on your Instagram.
Dating apps make the relationship terrain of Sex and the City feel completely foreign, but how exactly would it have altered it? And just like that, I knew that I had to find out. And that starts with considering which dating app would apply to each Sex and the City character.
Image modified by author. “Sex and the City 2” by Automotive Rhythms is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 + Mika Baumeister / Unsplash
When I recently became single and decided to give dating apps a go, I had minimal knowledge of them. So I asked friends if I should download Tinder, which was met with a stern “No!”. It turns out that around here, Tinder is known as the breeding ground for extremely casual hookups, most of which don’t even involve a drink somewhere. With that in mind, there is no better fit for the promiscuous goddess that is Samantha Jones.
It’s honestly a shame that we could never experience Samantha on dating apps, as she would’ve been rocking them. She’d be swiping away and ready for a good time. She’d have a short quippy bio that not so subtly hinted at what she’s looking for and some truly scrumptious photos accompanying it. She would always find dates for events, fit people in between her busy PR lifestyle and never let a night go to waste. So, Samantha Jones, Tinder is waiting for you.
Bumble stands out for two reasons. Firstly for their format, which asks users to choose three questions to answer, all of which will be displayed on their profile alongside their carefully chosen photos. Secondly, women have to message first.
I think that the writer in Carrie would draw her to Bumble immediately. The chance to talk about herself and hint at her profession would be too compelling to resist. Carrie would choose her three questions carefully, and instead of responding with a funny one-liner, she’d use her entire word count. Her answers would include plenty of “And just like that…” and “I couldn’t help but wonder…”. Carrie would of course mention that she’s a sex columnist and lavish in the responses that gets.
In terms of the female-led messaging, I think this would initially present a challenge to Carrie. She isn’t really one to ask out the man, but I think she’d produce a column on the subject and then bite the bullet and go for it. This feature is also what would drive Charlotte away from this app, as she would firmly believe the man should message you first. Samantha wouldn’t have the patience for Bumble, and Miranda would get too busy and not message a match in time. She’s a working woman who wants to make partner; you can’t expect an answer within 24 hours!
I think the only person more pleased than Samantha with the introduction of dating apps is Miranda. Going to a bar and looking for a hookup is all fun and games in your twenties, but by your thirties, you have responsibilities. You want to find a playmate, take them home, do the deed, and then set your alarm. So dating apps are perfect for Miranda as they take all the conversation and edging around the subject away. You can state what you want without that face-to-face embarrassment. You can also weed out people you won’t get on with, so date time can be used for someone you’ll likely have a good time with. I think Miranda could have a good time on any dating app and would probably give them a go, but I think she’d especially enjoy OkCupid.
OkCupid asks users multiple-choice questions to determine their interests, expectations, habits and lifestyle. These questions are then used to match members and increase the likelihood of getting on. It differs from other platforms that primarily focus on sexual orientation and location, which leaves a vast range of ‘what ifs’ in the middle. I think Miranda would appreciate OkCupid because it considers what she is looking for. As much as I adore Steve, it seemed like their main issue was that they had such different lifestyles. First in working times, as he worked late nights and she started early in the morning. Then when he suggested they have a baby and then a dog whilst she wanted to focus on becoming partner. Miranda could indicate her lifestyle, hours and ambitions so that she receives matches that can complement this.
A little bit of a throwaway, but I thought it was worth mentioning a non-heteronormative dating app as well! All the other dating apps mentioned can be used for same-sex pairings, even Bumble which adapts to allow both parties to send the first message, but Grindr is a unique experience. Grindr is a location-based app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people and is known to be the most popular for queer relations.
Stanford is quite shy and no stranger to online dating, so I think he would definitely be first in line to use Grindr. Of course, he’d swipe away without hesitation and only grow nervous when it comes to meeting them. But I have no doubt that his hilarious sarcasm and positive energy would allow him to score once he meets them!
Charlotte was my trickiest cookie, as I generally can’t imagine her going for dating apps. But maybe I’m packing her too tightly into a box, as she did surprise us in the Rabbit episode - which remains my favourite Charlotte moment. I almost assigned Charlotte to OkCupid as well, as I thought she’d like the formality of it and being paired with someone who meets her standards. But the issue is that Charlotte wasn’t looking for similarities per se; she was looking for a specific type of man. This led me to realise that Happn was the perfect app for her, primarily because of how she would utilise it.Happn is a location-based dating app that allows you to see people you’ve crossed paths with, even just once. Some people find that kind of creepy, which is probably why Happn consistently urges that they don’t share your location. But even so, it didn’t take me long to work out who lives on or near my street, as we quickly jumped to passed 200+ times. That felt a little more worrying, as it could be convenient but could also be super awkward…
The focus on location is to allow you a second chance with someone you passed and to find people with similar lifestyles as you, as you may pass them in an exercise class, on a run or in a restaurant you both like. It may be surprising that I chose Charlotte for this and not Samantha - who would simply love the efficiency of having a hook up close to home- but it’s because Charlotte is enough of a smart cookie to use this to her advantage.
Whilst it may be nice for Charlotte to discover someone who came to her gallery and she perhaps felt too shy to flirt openly with, I think Charlotte wouldn’t settle for finding people in her lane; she would go to theirs. Charlotte wants someone who can offer her security, emotionally and financially, so she would go to the appropriate places. She’d visit classy bars and restaurants around major office complexes or banks, and then start swiping with determination when she gets home. She’d make herself memorable enough to get that message. Charlotte doesn’t use an app, she orchestrates it.
This isn’t even a complete list of the many more dating apps and Sex and the City characters that I could mention, but merely the highlights. There are so many things of today that I would’ve loved to see considered and explored in Sex and the City, and yet the idea of a reboot is disconcerting. I think, for now, we need to appreciate the original for what it gave us and hope that screenwriters find a new way to bring that tone and subject to the little screens.
Looking for more content about dating apps? Here's my article on disclosing your mental illness on dating apps.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
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