Will Sex and the City’s Miranda Help Cynthia Nixon Get Out the Vote?
At the beginning of her campaign Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in this Thursday’s primaries, kept a safe distance from Miranda Hobbes, her character on “Sex and the City.” But in a recent change of heart Nixon decided to embrace some parts of her popular alter ego. Her official campaign shop now offers merchandise with the slogan “I’m a Miranda” in hopes of harnessing the show’s popularity to boost her campaign.
Airing for six seasons between 1998 and 2004, “Sex and the City” follows the romantic trials and sexual exploits of four women: the playful journalist Carrie Bradshaw, self-proclaimed WASP Charlotte, adventurous Samantha, and Miranda, a successful lawyer who later becomes a single mother.
If in the booming aughts Miranda seemed a tad boring compared to her bohemian friends, today she’s likely to strike audiences as the only truly relatable character. Carrie, who is based on the show’s creator, Candice Bushnell, makes her living by writing a sex column for a major newspaper. This job not only funds an Upper East Side apartment and a haute couture wardrobe, but leaves her enough time to take on a slew of lovers while carrying on a long-drawn affair with the caddish Mr. Big.
Miranda, on the other hand, is one of us. She works long hours, has a practical wardrobe (though she loves high heels), and tries to strike a balance between work and personal life. While her friends gallivant in housing-bubble-era New York, Miranda really can’t get a break. Most of the men she meets are cads, or look past her to a more frivolous catch. When she finally hits it off with Steve the bartender, the relationship hits rough waters fast. As Miranda struggles to keep her life together, she grows emotionally and becomes more aware.
So yes, in 2018, when women spend most of their lives at work and romance is relegated to a handful of apps, Miranda is relatable. But as Cynthia Nixon runs on a progressive platform that includes support for universal healthcare, stabilizing rents, and legalizing marijuana, is the identification with Miranda consistent with her message?
I binged-watched some of the show to see how Miranda’s character and storyline stack up against Nixon’s left-of-center agenda.
In Season 3, Miranda starts dating Steve, a working-class bartender. Since Steve makes so little money, he can only afford to take Miranda out to a neighborhood pizza place with benches on the sidewalk. All goes well until Miranda insists on buying Steve a $2000 suit, so he could come to one of her work parties. Offended, Steve pays for the suit himself, returns it, and stands Miranda up. Miranda does realize her mistake, but their relationship falters.
Many of the policy changes Cynthia Nixon proposes would help working-class people like Steve.
Today, despite the Affordable Care Act, many still can’t afford quality healthcare. With Single Payer Healthcare in New York State, seeing a doctor will become a right and not a privilege. The New York Healthcare act has strong support among New York democrats, including Mayor Bill DeBlasio and has good chance of becoming law under a progressive governor.
Many of Nixon’s other issues, like stabilizing New York’s skyrocketing rents and fixing the subway, will also benefit working people.
In Season 4, Miranda finds out that she’s pregnant after briefly getting back together with Steve. She decides to have an abortion, but has a hard time scheduling an appointment. Her clinic has a long waiting list because only one of the doctors is willing to perform the procedure. With abortion rights under threat from Trump’s supreme court, Nixon promises to protect women’s reproductive freedom through stronger legislation and initiatives.
After much soul-searching Miranda decides to keep the baby. In the next season, she struggles to raise baby Brady on her own while keeping up with a demanding job. A successful lawyer, Miranda hires a full-time nanny and asks her firm to reduce her weekly hours. Most working parents don’t have these options and can barely meet the prohibitive daycare costs.
A long-time public education advocate, Cynthia Nixon helped Mayor de Blasio campaign for free Universal Pre-Kindergarten in New York. Universal Pre-K not only relieves some of the costs of daycare, but better prepares young children to enter school.
Though Miranda is not an avowed progressive like Nixon, she is someone to whom many 2018 voters can relate. Miranda’s storylines help viewers understand why New York State needs the reforms that Cynthia Nixon proposes. In addition, Nixon’s unaffected and charismatic acting style humanizes both the character and the politician.
Of course, some conservative voters may have never watched the show. The references to “Sex and the City” might only remind them of Nixon’s unconventional background and her closer ties to New York City than the rest of the state.
But I think that claiming Miranda as part of Nixon’s public identity is a positive and important move. If Trump could claim the role of a misogynistic reality show host and win a presidential election, why should playing a working mother on screen be a liability?
The gubernatorial primaries in New Yorker State are this Thursday (yes, Thursday), September 13th.