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Carrie & pals weren't first on TV

Let's raise a cosmo to Carrie Bradshaw, a woman who is responsible for a boost in N.Y. tourism and everyday women daring to spend $400 on a pair of shoes.

Let's raise a cosmo to Carrie Bradshaw, a woman who is responsible for a boost in N.Y. tourism and everyday women daring to spend $400 on a pair of shoes.

But as much as I love her, with all her style and charisma, she and her friends on "Sex and the City" are not as groundbreaking as I once thought they were. Even though they did it well, they were not the first women on television to openly talk about sex, dating and independence.

Late at night when I can't sleep, I find myself watching old shows on TV Land and Lifetime. I hate to admit it, but alongside my favorite night-owl programs like "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times" are "The Golden Girls" and "Designing Women."

And the more I watch the wrinkly old women on "The Golden Girls," which aired from 1985 to 1992, the more I start to feel like they were way more revolutionary than they get credit for.

Before Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, there were Sophia, Blanche, Dorothy and Rose. Four single senior women who found solace in their friendship and talked openly about having sex and relationships at a time when it was still mostly taboo on television.

Sure, they aren't sexy and chic like the ladies of "Sex and the City," and they didn't have the freedom that cable television offers. But they still managed to tackle real subjects. Homosexuality. Artificial insemination. Teen pregnancy. Safe sex. And they did it all with humor and charm.

The Southern belles of "Designing Women" (1986-93) also gave face to independent women. They were witty, smart career women, and the show revolved around their working lives as well as the realistic issues they faced: divorce, dating, marriage, motherhood, sex and such. Like "Golden Girls," this show gave a different portrayal of women than many shows of its time and helped pave the way for future female sitcoms.

Another show that came before the frivolous fashionistas of "Sex and the City" was "Living Single." It was also one of the few shows that centered on educated, successful black women in the '90s. But it had universal appeal because it featured four 20-somethings, all coming of age and navigating the dating world.

I wasn't old enough to fully understand the themes in these shows at the time they originally aired. But I am sure there are a lot of women who connected to the characters and through their situations were able to talk about things they hadn't openly discussed before.

I love "Sex and the City," and the friendship the ladies shared. But I think the women who came before them deserve some credit for breaking this ground .

So the next time I find myself drinking a martini in a posh new restaurant, I'm raising my glass to the ladies who paved the way.

Here's to the wrinkly old women who traveled down the road and back again, the Southern belles who told it like it was and the girls who made it in a '90s kind of world. *