Sex and the City 20th Anniversary: Aging Baby Boomers Acting Like Millennials

Sex and the City has been on my list of books to read for a long time.

Okay, maybe I should back up and explain, considering my wife gleefully informed me that I’d lost my “man card” when I returned from the library with a paperback emblazoned with an image of Sarah Jessica Parker wearing nothing but a laptop and heels. I’m not talking about the risqué TV show about expensive clothes, or about the cheesy movies with the same cast. I’m referring to the original essay collection by Candace Bushnell, which I’d been told is a far more honest and cynical look at the mid-’90s dating market among upper-class Manhattanites — a work of sociology mixed with dark comedy rather than of chick lit, even if its latter-day marketers thought a movie tie-in edition would boost sales.

It was a good time to check this particular item off my bucket list, because this month marks the book’s 20th anniversary, or at least it does according to Wikipedia. (The Guardian celebrated the anniversary last month; the copyright is from 1996. Who knows?) At two decades’ distance, what stands out most about the collection isn’t its supposedly groundbreaking sexual candor, which actually doesn’t take center stage in most chapters, but the fact that the people it depicts are clearly Millennials from the future. Cigarettes are everywhere, and the cell phones are the kind you can only talk on, but otherwise these stories provoke a deep sense of déjà vu.

Remember all the handwringing a while back about the new phenomenon of “emerging adulthood,” in which college graduates “fail to launch,” living off their parents for years after finishing school and putting off marriage for ever-longer periods of time? Well, Candace Bushnell was born in 1958. That makes her a Baby Boomer — not even Generation X — and when this book was published she was pushing 40. While some of her friends are well established economically as the events of Sex and the…

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