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'Sex' says farewell

Retailers are now offering tank tops that read: "I'm a Charlotte" [read: You have three months to propose]; "I'm a Samantha" [read: Buy me a drink]; "I'm a Miranda" [read: Run]; and "I'm a Carrie" [read: You want me to be your new best friend]. What a merchandising idea! Every girl could buy one, two, three, or--let's be honest--all four. After six seasons with these characters, they are not only our best friends; they are us.

With this Sunday's final episode of "Sex and the City," we are losing not just a 30-minute weekly distraction but our wardrobe inspiration, our forum for those kinds of talks and even a part of ourselves. The show, the characters and the escapades have seeped into our culture and, perhaps more than any television show of our generation, changed the way we view so many facets of our lives.

As the show ends, the four swinging singles are a little less single than when the show began almost seven years ago. Two are married, one may be, come Sunday (think Big), and Samantha has a wonderful boyfriend, which is huge for Samantha. But the producers have resisted the urge to veer too much from the theme of the show: You don't have to be married to be happy.

For that, they should be applauded. "Sex and the City" caused a paradigm shift away from thinking of single as shameful and towards thinking of single as desirable and fun. Carrie and the gang certainly seem to have more good times at the cocktail parties they attend than their married friends do cleaning up baby slop. Sure we love the guys on the show--everyone has their Aidan and their Big (God help us all), but it is the friendships that are important. The show traded in the long-term relationship for the long-term friendship. As Mr. Big told Carrie's friends in the last episode, "You are her three loves. A guy would be lucky to come in fourth."

Did single students spend this past Valentine's Day locked in their dorm rooms with When Harry Met Sally and a box (or three) of Kleenex, like they might have a decade ago? No. They spent it with their friends, sipping on cosmopolitans and enjoying single-hood. Every week, it's not your boyfriend/hooku who you invite over to watch the show (that would be weird). Perhaps we should thank Samantha for that one.

And the clothes! The clothes are all Carrie. Her silk flowers, Fendi bagettes and nameplate necklaces make "The Rachel" look like a bench-warming trend (throw in a sports analogy for the sole straight guy still reading this). "Manolos" are now part of the everyday American vernacular--quite a feat considering they run about a semester's worth of books a pop.

The characters and their clothes work

synergistically to breath life into each other. Yes, of course, Charlotte would wear the Burberry trench coat. Naturally Miranda wears the navy suit. Why wouldn't Samantha wear that La Perla bra (with nothing else)? And it is only suiting that Carrie is the sole 30-plus woman still wearing hot pants. Somehow knowing that Carrie would put this with 'yes--no, not--yes, that!,' makes us willing to experiment and show our own personalities in our clothing choices: This is not only what I wear; this is me.

So this Sunday will be bittersweet. Perhaps it will be the best episode ever, but that just makes it even sadder that it is also the last. At my viewing (naturally with my girlfriends), both cosmos and Kleenexes will be served. But I have faith we will Carrie on.

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