Carrie Bradshaw may be the free-spirited, shoe-loving heroine of Sex and the City, but the protagonist has some tragic aspects to her character.
Carrie Bradshaw is the heart and soul of Sex and the City, giving viewers a look at the outwardly fashionable, inwardly neurotic modern woman. Her antics provide the crux of the series’ stories, while the lives of Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda are intertwined into Carrie’s New York City lifestyle mosaic.
A self-professed true romantic at heart, Carrie will do just about anything to fall in love. Rarely does it drive her to the heights of her greatest accomplishments, however, and more often than not ensures that she’ll be part of some of the series’ most heartbreaking moments. The saddest things about Carrie provide Sex and the City with some of its most gut-wrenching drama, but often at the expense of its heroine’s mental health.
Her Inability To See Her Own Strength
Carrie isn’t possessed with Samantha’s self-confidence, and often doubts her own resilience. For every shining moment when she’ll walk in New York Fashion Week in nothing but a pair of glittery panties, there are a dozen more when she’ll cry herself to sleep over some off-handed remark by Mr. Big.
Carrie often doesn’t feel good enough about her accomplishments in life, whether it’s her column, working at Vogue, or her relationships. This leads her to a neurotic cycle of self-doubt and over-analyzing her actions that fans desperately wish she could break out of.
She Can’t Stop Seeing Big
Despite the fact that Mr. Big never puts Carrie’s needs before his own, strings her along for the entire series, and is never emotionally honest with her, Carrie still holds out for him to return her love’s ferocity. She breaks off perfectly good relationships with other men (including hunky baseball stars) because she always keeps a candle lit for Big.
Even after she’s been long settled into a relationship, like the one she has with Aidan, Big corrupts her executive function. It’s sad watching Carrie throw herself at someone in an effort to force a relationship by wearing them down.
Her Preference For Emotionally Unavailable Men
Throughout the series, Carrie has a penchant for men who are emotionally unavailable, leaving her with a sense that she needs to chase them if she ever wants to convince them that they love her. It’s difficult for fans to watch her berate herself over the behavior of men who are old enough to know better.
While most of her attention is on longstanding romantic fixtures in her life like Big, the most commitment-adverse man in New York City, later she gets into a relationship with Aleksandr Petrovsky, who is no more attuned to Carrie’s emotional needs because his one true love is his art.
Cheating On Aidan
One of the lowest moments of the series occurs when Carrie decides to cheat on Aidan with Mr. Big, a person she can’t quit any more than cigarettes. Aidan is understandably crushed and Carrie feels guilty, which makes the relationship they try to forge in the aftermath so devastating.
Aidan will never let Carrie forget what she put him through, and Carrie bends over backwards to try to make things up to him. It creates some very uncomfortable moments, and despite Carrie being in the wrong, it’s hard not to feel sorry for her.
Cheating On Big
In Sex and the City 2, when Carrie and the girls accompany Samantha on a vacation to the Middle East, they inexplicably run into Carrie’s former flame, Aidan. Given their past history, it’s dangerous for Carrie to spend time with him, especially since she’s been feeling bored with her penthouse life with Mr. Big.
At this point Carrie is married and so is Aidan, but that doesn’t stop them from sharing a romantic dinner together and falling under each other’s spell. It’s frustrating to watch Carrie behave so cavalierly when she finally got Mr. Big to commit after years of relentlessly pursuing him.
Breaking Up With Men Who Are In Therapy
Despite the fact that Carrie has objectively a very serious lack of understanding surrounding her own mental health, she feels that therapy is for “people who can’t solve their own problems,” and only lasts a few weeks in treatment herself before she decides it’s not for her.
When she reconnects with a former lover who’s actively seeking help for his mental state in Season 6, she decides that she can’t commit to someone actually bettering their life, and that she needs to keep attaching herself to emotionally constipated men who don’t have an introspective bone in their bodies.
Not Managing Her Life Better
Despite writing a single weekly column that most likely wouldn’t foot the bill for her apartment or her impressive shoe collection, Carrie manages to skate by financially thanks to the help of her generous boyfriends and the women in her life.
When she can no longer afford her apartment, she guilt-trips Charlotte into feeling bad for her because she didn’t offer to loan her the money to buy it. It’s frustrating watching Carrie spend so much money on shoes and inconsequential items when she’s old enough to know more about her personal finances.
Always Needing To Be Saved
In one way or another, Carrie spends the series needing people to rescue her. Whether it’s from life’s stresses or even just boredom, she is always reliant on someone — usually a boyfriend — to help her tackle some new challenge or disruption in her existence.
Aidan saves her by purchasing her apartment for her when she runs out of money from too much shoe shopping, and Mr. Big saves her from a life of eating bon bons alone in Paris after she made the decision to follow her latest beau all the way across the globe.
Uprooting Her Life In NYC For A Man
In the final season, Carrie decides to leave New York City and move to Paris to live with her steady boyfriend, the artist Aleksandr Petrovsky. All of her friends are shocked to hear this, especially Miranda, who always knew Carrie as the woman who “doesn’t leave Manhattan.”
This causes a huge fight between the two friends and tragically almost ruins their friendship before Carrie leaves town. The worst part about it is knowing that Carrie could feel so miserable that she needs to fly halfway around the world just to be more lonely than before. Watching her solemnly mope around Paris, separated from everyone she truly cares about, is difficult to watch.
Not Being Happy With What She Has
After the end of the first Sex and the City movie, Carrie has everything she could ever want. She has the man of her dreams in Mr. Big, a gorgeous penthouse apartment, and a closet bigger than her previous rent-controlled apartment. But because Big is more of a homebody than she is, Carrie decides her life is ruined.
Watching her be dissatisfied with her life and feel like something’s missing is heartbreaking considering everything it took to get her to that point. She pinned her happiness on a man and a lifestyle that she thought she wanted, and ends up almost cheating on Big just to get the thrill of her old life back.