Carrie Bradshaw, the central character of HBO’s iconic show Sex and the City, has been a source of aspiration for young women ever since she and her Manolo Blahniks strutted onto TV screens in the late Nineties.
Her fashion choices, hilarious best friends, New York Haunts and job as a writer for Vogue: all of it seemed utterly fabulous.
But one part of her life that she wasn’t quite so admired for was money management, and the rather unrealistic idea that she funded her enviable lifestyle on what appeared to be little more than a column a week.
Her often frivolous spending (“sometimes I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I found it fed me more”) is something fans have debated for years, and now, finally, the producer of the show has revealed how they addressed the issue – and that the character’s spending was as hot a topic in the writers’ room as it was for viewers.
Over the course of six series we watched starry-eyed as Carrie lived out a dream-like, cosmopolitan existence. Spending hundreds of dollars on shoes, she padded around a brownstone central Manhattan apartment (which she rented alone), wore designer ballgowns on the regular and drank no doubt $20 cocktails like they were going out of fashion.
And, apparently, she afforded all of this by writing one column a week. Right.
(Look, we know TV isn’t not real life – we’ve seen Monica’s apartment in Friends – but try transplanting this story to a London-dwelling millennial, spending half their salary to live in a cupboard, fantasising about being able to buy anything full price from Topshop, and you see how it was sometimes a jarring oversight.)
Now, 20 years later, the creators of the show have admitted that the character’s spending was actually somewhat controversial behind the scenes too, with Sex and the City's writer and producer, Amy Harris, giving us an insight into the decisions behind Carrie’s “s**t life choices”.
Let us cast your minds back to series four, and the episode entitled Ring a Ding Dong, in which Carrie is given the opportunity to buy her apartment. All is well and good until she realises that after spending some $40,000 on shoes (calculated by Miranda, naturally) she doesn’t have a penny to put towards the down payment – whoops.
After considering accepting a loan from Big, Charlotte and Miranda come to the rescue in a glorious show of female empowerment. They discourage their friend from being in debt to her ex and come up with the down payment for her themselves, in the form of Charlotte’s former engagement ring – which in itself helps her to let go of her previous relationship.
According to Harris, the episode was designed to teach Carrie a life lesson and serve as acknowledgement of the choices the character had made.
Speaking to CNBC, Harris said: “If people were pissed and hated that Carrie did that, I’m OK with that.
“Sarah Jessica and I talked about this: we believe she [Carrie] paid her [Charlotte] back.
“It was a loan, not a gift, so she did have to learn to save a little, to not spend everything on shoes and clothes.”
While there were moments highlighting the joy that taking time to treat yourself can bring – as well as pointing out that ‘different’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bad’ when it comes to lifestyles and priorities (think the episode where Carrie’s shoes got stolen at a party) – Harris goes on to say that Carrie had made a “big mistake”.
She explained: “In my mind, she had to acknowledge all the s**t choices she’d made and the fact that she hadn’t saved a penny and that was a big mistake, and so she was living with that.
“Carrie learned a lesson. I do believe she sat down every month and wrote Charlotte a cheque."
Harris revealed that Carrie’s money management was a source of recurring conflict for those working on Sex and the City.
She added: “People are funny about money.
“The biggest fight we ever got into in the writers' room was about the money – that was a very big debate.
“Money is a tricky, complicated thing. Carrie spent it well on things she enjoyed, and luckily it all worked out well for her – I love happy endings.”
Images: Rex / HBO