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Debt in the city: How Carrie Bradshaw set unrealistic expectations of NYC for Millennials & Gen Z

Say what you will about the iconic HBO franchise, “Sex and the City,” but Carrie Bradshaw set an unrealistic expectation of what life in NYC is like for Millennials and Gen Z (also known as Zoomers).

New York City is a magical, glamorous and exclusive place where all the right people and the opportunity for love can be found around every corner––if you’re wearing Carrie Bradshaw’s rose-coloured glasses, that is.

Say what you will about the iconic HBO franchise, “Sex and the City,” but Carrie Bradshaw set an unrealistic expectation of what life in NYC is like for Millennials and Gen Z (also known as Zoomers).

Carrie’s weekly column for fictional newspaper The New York Star details her and her close friends’ sexual escapades, as well as her general perceptions of the hetero-normative dating scene in Manhattan. While she is portrayed working in an office, much of her best writing seems to take place sitting at her desk within the comfort of her Upper East Side apartment.

During the first three episodes of the first season, Carrie’s apartment appeared to be located above a coffee shop a short ways away from Madison Avenue, but by the fourth episode, the address of 245 East 73rd Street was established.

She allegedly paid $700 (USD, that is) in rent per month for a second floor walk-up studio apartment located between Madison and Park Avenues. In 2021, rent-stabilized apartments are incredibly difficult to come by.

Regardless, apartments on the Upper East Side today are virtually impossible to find below at least $1,450 per month––and it’s essentially guaranteed none of them would have a closet quite like Carrie’s. 

In actuality, the unmistakable façade and interiors featured on the show belong to 66 Perry Street in the West Village. However, units at the Perry Street brownstone were rented in 2019 priced at $3,300 per month.

The fact that Carrie is able to buy back her apartment from Aidan after their breakup on a columnist’s salary is unlikely. Millennials and Zoomers are still forced to live with one or multiple roommates in order to afford the cost of New York living.

It’s later revealed that when Carrie wanted to buy her apartment back, she only had $1,657 in her bank account and was unable to secure a loan due to her bad credit rating from frequent shopping sprees, to which her friends constantly warned against while on a moderate writer’s income. Nevertheless, Carrie was able to buy the apartment with Charlotte’s money and it was never mentioned again––a highly improbable situation. 

Confessing that when she first moved to Manhattan, she would buy Vogue instead of dinner, Carrie is a lover of luxury to a serious fault. Each season, Carrie and her friends galavant around department stores, dine at New York’s finest restaurants, and rub elbows with the Manhattan elite along the way. Dinners and multiple rounds of drinks at these notable restaurants can cost upwards of $100, and racking up a shoe collection that costs over $40,000 as a 20-something is a highly detrimental sum.

How could Carrie miss so much work and afford such a lavish lifestyle? Most Millennials and Zoomers could agree that for those as career-oriented as Carrie claims to be, days are wholly consumed working in an office. Plus, dining out is an infrequent luxury.

On January 10, 2021, it was announced that Carrie Bradshaw and her cohorts, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbes, will be navigating friendship and love as 50-somethings in a “Sex and the City” reboot titled “And Just Like That.”

After growing up watching “Sex and the City” each week, Millennials and Zoomers were force-fed a viewpoint of life in Manhattan that is unattainable, unmanagable and unintelligent. Encouraging young viewers to treat themselves is one thing, but not to the point that it causes fiscal detriment.

With the return of three out of four of these widely-recognized women in Manhattan, HBO Max has the chance to reintroduce them as financially-stable, intellectual and savvy friends. New television calls for better role models, and the three women’s characters as they currently stand could surely use a glow up in 2021.

Megan Shelton