• Lena Dunham in Girls

As I am for a lot of things, I was late for Girls. And not just because I refuse to pay for HBO. I was avoiding the show—in part for the precociousness of Lena Dunham and my growing weariness with anything designated as hipster—but mainly because of the comparison Girls draws to another show lauded as a cultural touchstone: Sex and the City.

Sex and the City premiered during my formative college years and went a long way in fucking up my worldview. It helped me to convince myself that out there in the real world, jobs came without work, apartments came without roommates, and clothes came without price tags. You could argue that I have no one to blame but myself—my dull-witted, callow, college self—for thinking that a television show could portray reality to any meaningful degree. And you’d be mostly right—except for the dogged insistence of women everywhere that the show was so realistic and relatable. Everyone, it seemed, could fully recognize themselves in one of the show’s four cartoonish archetypes. Quizzes surfaced to confirm which character you were (They’re still out there, if you’re curious. I just took one and regret to inform you that I tested positive for Miranda). But beyond perpetuating the idea among impressionable young women that identities could be summed up in two adjectives or less, Sex and the City was guilty of offering really, really inaccurate portrayals of sex.