Girls vs. Sex and the City: Which was better?


Fact Box

  • Sex and the City debuted on HBO in 1998 and aired until 2004. The franchise also includes two big-screen adaptations, Sex and the City: The Movie and Sex and the City 2, as well as a reboot of the series on HBO Max. 
  • Premiering on HBO in 2012, Girls was the brainchild of creator, director, writer, and star Lena Dunham, who described the show as “a self-aware commentary on privileged white womanhood.” 
  • Both running for six seasons, Sex and the City was nominated for 54 Emmys and won seven, while Girls was nominated for 19 Emmys and won two
  • Critic review aggregator Metacritic gives Girls a metascore of 80, while Sex and the City’s metascore is 64.

Maha (Sex and the City)

If the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That… vouches for anything, it’s that the show was one of the best on TV and superior to its oft-compared-to rival Girls primarily for its groundbreaking nature

Sex and the City, released shortly after the third wave of feminism, featured rare-for-the-time female-driven narratives and showcased four women who were unapologetically themselves. Carrie was a fashion-loving hopeless romantic, whereas the conservative Charlotte was a perfectionist in every way. And completing the gang were the workaholic Miranda and promiscuous Samantha.

Through these four different characters, the show addressed several unspoken concerns of women. For instance, Charlotte taught women not to compromise on what’s important to them sexually and emotionally just to stay married. 

Similarly, Miranda showed her vulnerability by mentioning how insecure she was about her lack of “sexiness” or “pretty looks.” This is something 91% of women feel even today. 

Yet despite these vulnerabilities, Miranda and the others showed strength every time. For example, Samantha broke it off with her longtime, younger boyfriend because she wasn’t personally and emotionally progressing

One aspect that the show addressed, in particular, was women’s health. From vulvodynia to infertility and all the way to crabs, SATC helped normalize difficult conversations on women’s sexual health. 

But what makes the show truly stand out is its focus on friendship between women. Newer shows that tried replicating SATC’s success have failed in this department--especially Girls, which only solidified toxic beliefs about female friendship

So, while critics claim that Sex and the City didn’t age well, these and other reasons still ensure its popularity with audiences even 20+ years later. 

Joanna (Girls)

Since its release, Girls has been constantly compared to Sex and the City. But, aside from focusing on the lives of four women in New York, the shows are very different. Girls stands out specifically for being quite relatable for various reasons, and viewers could identify with its characters in ways they simply couldn’t with SATC

Firstly, whereas Sex and the City feels unrealistic because of its protagonists' lifestyles, Girls has a realistic take on the lives of millennials. For instance, Hannah's parents cutting her off two years after graduating from college is something twentysomething viewers can undoubtedly relate to. 

Secondly, Girls is relatable because of the characters' realistic appearances. Hannah is a 'defiantly full-figured' woman who stands out from thinner actresses in most movies and TV shows. This trait alone makes her easier to associate with 39.7% of women in her age group

The third factor that makes Girls so easy to relate to is its realistic take on sex despite not having 'sex' in its title. For instance, there was no montage or seductive music while Adam and Jessa had sex in season 5. Instead, the characters talked about their bad backs and the limited space they were using.

Relatability aside, Girls has covered many contemporary issues from different aspects. For example, the episode on Jessa's abortion shows how different characters process this sensitive matter and the implications of motherhood. 

But the best part of the show is that it doesn't ignore the roles of male characters. That's why even men can enjoy the show and relate to it.

So, if anyone is up for a great show on real individuals with relatable lives, Girls it is! 

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