In the same way that the show had an outsized influence on women’s fashion, so too did it influence their behavior. Inevitably, there was a vast gulf between how Carrie’s life seemed and how it translated into reality for her fans. Casual hook-ups after a night of drinking Cosmos is decidedly less glamorous in real life. The material aspiration encouraged by the show is imprudent for all but an elite few. Even fewer can sustain the licentious sexuality without lasting physical and emotional wounds. The societal physics of a growing hookup culture result in an increasing number of men who are coarse and entitled and women who feel used and discarded.
Sophisticated moderns think of “Leave it to Beaver” as a contrived reflection of a societally imposed, but ultimately unfulfilling domesticity. We should now see “Sex and the City” as the “Leave it to Beaver” of the sexual revolution: a glossy representation at odds with the sad reality on the ground. Our new conception of the good life for women as highly ambitious sexual libertines has created a generation of Stepford single girls pantomiming a life of glamor that can feel as hollow as it does harmful.