I just got tipped off (by the heartIFB on Twitter in fact!) about a great column by a fellow blogger TheFremeny titled "Carrie Bradshaw Math." Truth is, even though I never bothered to actually "do the math" (for one thing I'm not a fan of math), I have been long bothered by the same question TheFremeny asks in her post: "How the hell could Carrie ever sustain her luxurious lifestyle by writing one single newspaper column a week?" Indeed there are plenty of moments in the show that are seriously far-fetched (to say the least), but OK, it's a movie - it's supposed to get kinda fairtalish from time to time. Yet, the gap between Carrie's lifestyle, her source of income and reality is far too BIG to ignore.
All three Carrie's girlfriends have presumably highly paid jobs - Miranda is a lawyer, Samantha does PR and later owns a PR company, and Charlotte is an art-dealer who later marries rich, then remarries to a successful lawyer - with a Park Avenue apartment as dowry from previous marriage. Carrie, on the other hand, only writes a newspaper article a week, apparently has no other incomes, yet she rents a very nice apartment in a very nice area, has a wardrobe full of top designer labels and of course a mountain of Manolos and other pricy shoes.
Now, unlike TheFremeny, I don't live in New York and can't knowingly speak of prices for everything or the paychecks of freelance columnists. But we live in the age of information so I can have some rough idea, plus I have personally known New Yorkers, among them journalists, who honestly said it's hard to sustain yourself on a journalist's salary even working full-time - you may want an extra job!
And here we have a lady who cannot realistically make more than a few thousand bucks a month, yet, she, almost like a biblical character, is able to stretch this modest amount 50-times its original size to cover all her luxurious needs from rent to shopping to dinners at top-notch restaurants and outings at best night clubs. Yes, allusions to Carrie being a shopoholic and the money problems she faces because of it are made a few times in the show, most memorably in the episode where she's being forced out of her apartment unless she buys it. But in the end she still has it easy - borrows money from friends and starts freelancing for Vogue - case closed. And of course the unexpected book deal followed soon after, clearly solving all of Carrie's cash problems for good.
I wonder how many independent women actually living and working in New York raised their eyebrows at the way Carrie hops though life without a care in the world (unless freshly heartbroken by Mr. Big), while most of them have to work hard dusk till dawn to even afford a small fraction of her lifestyle. I mean, would it have killed the show creators to give Carrie a full-time job as a fashion writer, editor, stylist etc. - who also writes her own column, or a writer who has already published a successful book? After all, if you make a character who is supposed to be an epitome of a successful single woman - aren't you supposed to make her seem a little more real?
It's funny how "Sex And the City" works so well as a show about relationships and free-spirited independent women - so much that it can even serve as therapy in time of personal life dramas - yet it so miserably fails when it comes to the more practical side of life, such as the skills of survival in New York or any other big city where life is expensive, competition is huge, and you have to do your best and work your hardest to even get a decent job with a decent salary. In that respect, compared to "SATC," "Devil Wears Prada" is a self-help book.