Ladies Who Lunch

Lauren Swanson

If you’re a fan of the wildly successful HBO series “Girls,” you might be having a bit of déjà vu.  Four independent women living in New York.  Obsessed with men.  One is a writer, one is innocent and naïve, another is free (sexually and mentally), the last is severely self-involved.  Sound familiar?  If you are a religious follower of the “Ladies Who Lunch,” you may recognize this as eerily similar to “Sex and the City”.  However, basic plot descriptions may be deceiving.

Carrie Bradshaw, from “Sex and the City,” and Hannah Horvath, from “Girls,” are vastly different creatures.  They define everything differently; what it means to be a woman, a writer, a resident of New York.

Bradshaw’s definition of womanhood, for example, is one of a stereotypical feminine character.  She is materialistic and her livelihood relies on spreading gossip about her friends and obsessing over men.  She is relatively modest, as a result of a clause Sarah Jessica Parker had in her contract, which produces an air of mystery surrounding her body.  Bradshaw is wildly successful despite not being actually talented, i.e. this fabulous line in her column, “Which came first, the chicken or the sex?”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Horvath.  She’s witty and overflowing with enormous talent, but struggles to find success that fulfills her definition of a writer.  Horvath’s definition of a writer is an evolved version of Bradshaw’s career.  Bradshaw never faced pushback or friction about her column; her thoughts and her ideas dictated the words that were printed.  Horvath, like Bradshaw, wants to experience that freedom of writing without the institution of publication.

In addition, Horvath’s definition of femininity is quite different from Bradshaw’s.  While Bradshaw is connected to materialism, Horvath is not.  Her dress is never a subject of plot, despite her body being a hot topic among critics.  Lena Dunham is shameless, and rightfully so, about her nudity.  She removes the veil of mystique that Bradshaw and SJP were contractually obligated to keep on.

All of this poses interesting questions about the state of our culture.  If television and pop culture are truly reflections of reality, then are we heading in the right direction?  Or the wrong?  Is Lena Dunham breaking barriers that SJP merely enhanced?  In addition, did Bradshaw ruin the world of journalism by inspiring too many people with too little talent to try their hand?  The discussion of the parallels of “Girls” and “Sex and the City” and the significance of the differences could be never-ending. It is essential to note, however, that both of these shows feature women in some element of power.  That in itself should be empowering to any woman writer.     

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