‘woke charlotte’ will change the way you watch 'sex and the city forever'

Cosmos, Manolo Blahniks, and retrospectively checking your privilege.

by Roisin Lanigan
21 December 2017, 12:38pm

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Quick question: who was the most woke character on Sex And The City? Was it:

A) Carrie -- the sex blogger who embraced quirky fashion and wrote about her many conquests
B) Samantha -- the unapologetically brash, promiscuous, pleasure-hungry PR guru
C) Miranda -- the ambitious, androgynous lawyer and sometime single mum
D) Charlotte -- the one who really, really wanted to get married.

It’s a trick question because none of them were woke. But a new hashtag is rewriting history and casting Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, the WASPy wannabe housewife, as the woke voice of reason we always wanted in the show. It’s 2017 after all, not 1998, when Sex And The City first premiered, and without #WokeCharlotte, it’s unfortunately pretty hard to watch the show without realising how problematic the whole set up is.

We may hold her in our mind as a mystical, fashionable, manic pixie dream girl shouting at that bus in a tutu, but let’s face it, over the course of six seasons and some dubious movie adaptations, Carrie said some fairly immature, uneducated and frankly judgemental things about everyone else’s sex lives. Things that are now being immortalised, in suitably millennial fashion, on Instagram, by iconic pop culture account @everyoutfitonsatc, who has created and embraced the #WokeCharlotte way of life wholeheartedly.

“It just started out as an inside joke between Chelsea and I,” explains Lauren, one of the co-creators of @everyoutfitonsatc. “We never anticipated it would gain so much traction, but we’re so happy with the response.”

Since it began the hashtag has inspired hundreds of posts on Twitter and Instagram, and has even been embraced by Kristin Davis, who told Chelsea and Lauren that she was a fan and now regularly comments on #WokeCharlotte. “It’s the highest compliment we could possibly receive,” says Chelsea. It’s also pretty meta.

#WokeCharlotte is a funny internet joke, and there are millions of those, but it’s more than just a one off. It falls into the dichotomy of how we retrospectively watch our old favourites, and whether we decide they can still be universally beloved in our modern world, or have to be consigned to the distant, unwoke past with a grimace. It’s like this: there are some things from the past two decades that age really well. Like Helen Mirren, or Mariah Carey’s timeless festive banger All I Want For Christmas Is You. Other things have not aged well, and the ravages of time have made them look past-it, old fashioned, cringe, decidedly ignorant. Love Actually, for instance. Or Katy Perry’s definitely not timeless attempt at a banger called You’re So Gay. Or Sex And The City.

While, as a show that featured four women openly discussing sex and embracing promiscuity, it was undoubtedly considered groundbreaking at the time, in retrospect Sex And The City is more than a little bit problematic. And that’s not just because literally 99% of the characters are affluent white people (I mean, that’s a big part of it). Primarily it’s down to Carrie.

While in the 90s and noughties she might have looked like a progressive, sex-positive blogger who somehow managed to sustain a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan with a walk in closet by writing approximately one column a week, from a modern perspective her attitudes to sex are actually pretty prudish, reductive and archaic. Remember when she shamed the politician who enjoyed pee play? Or when she casually told her pals over brunch that she didn’t believe in bisexuality? And yes, it’s not sex related, but that time she tried to order a Cosmopolitan at a McDonald’s drive through was nothing less than snobby and rude, to be honest.

All of that stuff makes Carrie too unpalatable to be able to enjoy Sex And The City in our current state of political awareness, which sucks because it’s really great for reruns on hungover Sundays. Luckily for us though, #WokeCharlotte is just getting started, and it makes Carrie and the rest of the girls (almost) ok enough for our 2018 sensibilities, at least in this reworked form. “Unfortunately there’s so much material to work from,” Lauren tells i-D. “We haven’t even touched the second film yet!”

And I couldn’t help but wonder, is #WokeCharlotte just another millennial fad? Or does it mean we’ll collectively at last agree that Carrie Bradshaw was awful, both as a sex columnist and as a person? Fingers crossed for the latter.

Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw
woke charlotte