Sex and the City is widely lauded as a classic show that many (including myself) still hold dear two decades after its debut. There’s exploration of topics that were (and sometimes still are) taboo, puns galore, complex and inspiring female friendships, and yes, lots of sex. A fast-moving, daring, and high-femme series about four women looking for love in Manhattan, Sex and the City is a beloved problematic fave.
On a rewatch, the most unrealistic element of the show isn’t how Carrie is able to afford her apartment on a writer’s salary—but how four women in New York City who go on dates nearly every night manage to largely avoid dating people of color. When the show premiered in 1998, the population of New York City was around 7.6 million people—and by 2000, only 35 percent of them were white. I know we’re supposed to suspend disbelief, but in a city that’s 65 percent nonwhite, I couldn’t help but wonder: How many people of color did Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda actually date?
Over the course of 94 episodes, the Sex and the City foursome do a lot of dating. NY Daily News reports their combined body count as 94 men and one woman, but Buzzfeed counted 107 men. I cross-checked these lists with Jezebel’s count of non-white speaking characters on the show and found that between 95–108 dating partners, only three (3) of them were people of color. THREE!!
It’s canon that Charlotte is the kind of person who’d be more offended by being called racist than actual racism (she’s a Republican who refused to eat food at five-star resort because it was in Mexico!), so it makes sense that she never dated a person of color—but I was truly surprised to learn that Carrie has only ever dated white guys! (There was Louis LeRoy, a hot sailor Carrie spent one Fleet Week episode with—but nothing ever happened between the two of them.) Samantha and Miranda were the only Sex and the City leads who dated people of color. Here’s a look at those characters and their arcs:
Samantha meets handsome record executive Chivon Williams in season three and immediately turns into a fetishistic turd, saying, "That is one fine lookin’ man, I’d like to get me some of that." Even Charlotte gets uncomfortable, imploring her friend not to talk "like that" because it’s "rude and politically incorrect," to which Samantha replies, "I don’t see color; I see conquests." Samantha does, of course, see color, later referring to Chivon’s "big Black cock" during gossip with the gals.
Samantha’s relationship hits a snag when Chivon’s sister Adeena says she "has a problem with [her] only brother getting serious with a white woman." Samantha eventually gets into a physical fight with Adeena—a cool, charismatic restauranteur character who's immediately written as an "Angry Black Woman" stereotype once her brother starts dating Samantha—which causes her relationship with Chivon to end. A concluding voiceover from Carrie goes: "Samantha knew the real problem wasn’t her little white pussy; it was the fact that Chivon was a big Black pussy who wouldn’t stand up to his sister." Yikes.
Maria Diega Reyes
In season four, Samantha is seduced by Maria, a Brazilian artist who she ends up dating for a few episodes. Their relationship arc is hard to watch for a couple of reasons. First, the character Maria falls into a couple of tired stereotypes as a "fiery Latina" who breaks plates when she’s angry and a lesbian who’s ready to get serious after a single date. Second, Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda are all shitty friends who don’t support Samantha’s relationship and relentlessly make fun of her for "turning lesbian overnight." It’s only after Samantha pleads with them to take her relationship as seriously as she takes their straight ones that they stop being such hateful fools.
That said, Samantha’s relationship with Maria is still an important one. Theirs is the only queer relationship involving one of the show’s leading women and Maria deepens Samantha’s understanding of sex, intimacy, and anatomy. For the first time in the series, Samantha says she’s so excited by and interested in her partner that she wants to wait to have sex with her so that it can "be special." When they finally do have sex, Maria urges Samantha to connect with her and says, "this is love-making, not a porno flick," inspiring Samantha to let go of her more performative aspects of sex.
In true Samantha fashion, the relationship doesn’t last—but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile. "The most important thing is that Maria taught me how to connect during sex," she tells her girlfriends. "It’s not just some animal act—it’s about two people, making love."
Dr. Robert Leeds
In season six, Miranda dates the objectively perfect Robert Leeds: He’s a gorgeous doctor for the Knicks (the show’s male equivalent of "sex columnist for Vogue") who cares deeply for Miranda and her son Brady. He’s also, according to Jezebel, one of two people of color with speaking roles to appear in multiple episodes (the other one is Maria). That said, his character isn’t written with much depth since his arc's primary function is to illustrate that Miranda and Steve are meant to be together. Even though Robert is everything you could ever want in a partner, his relationship with eternal over-thinker Miranda is a plot device to make her learn how to listen to her heart, which tells her she has to break up with Robert because she’s still in love with Steve.
Though we all like Steve and Miranda together, it was so hard to let Dr. Robert Leeds go.