Is Sex and the City a good thing?
December 7, 2004 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Is Sex and the City, or is it not, a worthwhile pastime? Is it an assault on the very essence of our human-ness, or does it teach women to be strong and independent in a man's world, or is it neither of these things and something else entirely? And finally, can a man who hates the show and a woman who loves it coexist in the same romantic relationship? Can they have amazing sex, at least?
posted by radiosig to Media & Arts (45 answers total)
It was an opportunity for vicious satire that decided to love its targets instead, like if AbFab was a glorious celebration of people like Edina and Patsy (and Saffy, for that matter).

It least that's what I was hoping it would be when I first heard it described. But I'm not really in the target audience. So if people like it, good for them. De gustibus and all that...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:49 AM on December 7, 2004

Kind of a gay question.

I think it's worthwhile. It has four stereotypical types of women in it, but they all share a common bond, that is, inner strength and independence. Sure Miranda is neurotic, but she basically stuck with one guy through the end (which occassional speed bumps). She even had his child. Charlotte was crazy but "pure", the rest, well, I have no idea. You get the picture.

I would say that depending on why the man hates the show the relationship might have a tough time of things. If he hates it because he believes one thing about womanhood, but she loves it because she believes something else about womanhood, well then no, I don't think they have much chance. But stranger things have happened.

posted by taumeson at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2004

"which occassional" = "with occassional"
posted by taumeson at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2004

Lisa Rosman says: It rocks.
posted by muckster at 7:51 AM on December 7, 2004

No to #1, yes to the last question.
posted by yerfatma at 7:59 AM on December 7, 2004

I adore SATC, on a whole bunch of levels. Most superficially, it's a gay boy's wet fashion dream: gorgeous women wearing even more gorgeous clothes, sleeping with gorgeous (well...) men, living in faaaaaaaabulous apartments in NYC. Deeper, it really does cover, in a way that is accessible to most people, how unbearable the dating scene can be, and how growing up is not a process that stops when you're 25, or 35, or 45.

Your relationship can obviously survive... there's got to be things you love that your lady doesn't, yeah? So... you don't bore her with (say) football, and she doesn't bore you with SATC. Fair deal.

As for the sex, that's really between the two of you, isn't it? ;)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:17 AM on December 7, 2004

it is to the 21st century what clara bow movies were to the 1920s -- an idealised, middle/upper class vision of "what now" feminism (ie: "we've got the right to vote, to work, to use birth control, and to be independent, cute and sexy. what now?"), something candy-like that probably shouldn't be taken too seriously. if you want to go into feminine stereotypes, let me give you a masculine corollary: does following sports "assault the very essence" of your humanity? can a man who loves football and a woman who hates it coexist in the same romantic relationship?

just off the top of my head, is all.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:17 AM on December 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

mrs c. and I watch it now and then. We find we can't take the outfits seriously, especially in the later series.
posted by carter at 8:30 AM on December 7, 2004

My Sex in the City experience is vastly improved by putting the TV on Mute and using Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero" as a soundtrack.

Flavor Flav: "No one live like that! No one even look like that!"

People do actually live, and look, like that, but I'd rather believe they didn't.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:31 AM on December 7, 2004

A "gay" question? Um, please.

Sex in the City is just a show. Like Law and Order, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends. My boyfriend and I don't watch all the same shows, any more than we read all the same books or play all the same video cames. So what?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

I don't think Sex in the city is the main factor when it comes to who has great sex with whom. That's kinda like trying to understand international politics by looking at the number of flowers in each country. makes. no. sense.

at least to me it doesn't
posted by klue at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

"they all share a common bond, that is, inner strength and independence"

Um, what? Independence of what, exactly.

Sex and the City is nothing more than an vacuous love letter to capitalism, for better or worse.
posted by ascullion at 8:48 AM on December 7, 2004

The great thing is, you only have to watch about 4 or 5 episodes to know the structure and plot of every single episode they ever aired. Ever.

Then you can move on with your life.
posted by jmgorman at 8:55 AM on December 7, 2004

I'm a straight male who's been told by more than one woman that I should watch it, and I've tried. I just don't like it.

I don't remember where, but I recall hearing the show once described as "a stupid, ugly woman's interpretation of what a beautiful, smart woman looks like." I realize that's an incredibly offensive thing to say, but in so many words, it's kinda how I feel.

I don't like it for the same reason I don't like that Paris Hilton show- it plays like some glorification of a bunch of utterly irritating and problematic people and how we're lesser people for not having as much money, and as much sex, as they do. It's a show about judgemental elitists and how the world is only 95% perfect for them.

I don't reflect on what people I know in real life are like them... I reflect on how lucky I am no one I know is actually like this. If they were, I'd probably want to strangle them.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:59 AM on December 7, 2004

On a side note, I think the last show on American television that actually depicted a realistic, powerful, and motivating look into the emotional lives of real human beings was My So-Called Life. Which, of course, got axed after one season.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2004

Television is a waste of time...period.
posted by baphomet at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2004

It's scripted entertainment. Make more of it at your own risk.
posted by rushmc at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2004

I liked it better the first time around -- when it was called Golden Girls.

Seriously, though, I fucking hate SATC with a passion (I do, however, love Golden Girls -- I want Dorothy to be my lady-husband). The few times I've watched it, it's given off this vibe of, "Look at us! We are beautiful and strong and smart and successful, and because of this we are not dependent on men in any way! They are our fashionable playthings, ooh!" But then every episode's plot seems to revolve around their pursuit or problems with men. GAH. Give me Deadwood any day -- they say "fuck" and "cocksucker" almost as much as I do.

I also hate that when I admit to hating SATC around other females, I am received with open-mouthed horror, as if I had just confessed to slaughtering infants and using their corpses in black masses. As if having a vagina and NOT liking SATC is just not done.
posted by fricative at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2004

SITC dosen't have nearly enough nudity and/or graphic sex, and the City they gallavant through bears no resemblance to the NYC I inhabit.

So "Sex In The City" fails to satisfy either part of it's title, thus I object to it on the grounds of false advertising.
posted by jonmc at 9:25 AM on December 7, 2004

I'll out myself as a female who never liked the show and was glad when it was finally put out of its misery.

The great thing is, you only have to watch about 4 or 5 episodes to know the structure and plot of every single episode they ever aired. Ever. Then you can move on with your life.

posted by mothershock at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2004

I'm of two minds about this show. It features strong woman characters, but all in a very old-world sexist context. Some women are still living in that world (or think they are) and they get a kick out of the strong female characters.

Some men are marginally enlightened, post-feminist good guys trying to do their best, and grate against the old-world sexist context of the show. But this is where a little suspension of disbelief comes in handy. Just try to imagine that you are living in a world where sex is a woman's primary source of power, where the sexes have done nothing to talk over their differences and come together. I don't know if New York is all that bad, but I do hear that more people there have old-fashioned ideas of what a "real" man is, and status is very important too.

If everyone you know thinks that feminism is just a bunch of new age bunk, and all sensitive males are fags, then you might dig this show, wherein several super-hot women are able to work such a system and come out slightly ahead each time. Hurrah.
posted by scarabic at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2004

Television is a waste of time...period.

Thank you for your insight. I'm sure radiosig will find it a very helpful response to his question.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

I think the show, which I watched twice, involuntarily, is/was a good litmus test for the kind of woman I would not want to meet. The show elevates the cynical. I can think of nothing more uncomfortable and distasteful.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2004

* All of my friends who are single in NYC love the show (or "hate it" but watch it religiously anyway).
* Everyone else I know is either baffled by it or indifferent.

Is this just me and my friends, or am I onto something here?
posted by ook at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2004

Amazing - hang around here long enough and eventually you'll find yourself agreeing with everyone, sooner or later. What XQUZYPHYR said...
posted by Pressed Rat at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2004

None of the characters are remotely realistic. What's scary is that it achieves some kind of tone that makes men think that women, some women, maybe secretly all women, are like that. So it quite reasonably tends to horrify them. I'm a woman, I hated it, then grew to love to hate it, but I tell ya, the look on the husband's face when it on was just priceless. Utterly terrified. So to answer the questions, no, it's not worthwhile, it depicts goodness knows what, yes a relationship is possible, and quality of potential sex life has nothing to do with it.
posted by rainbaby at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2004

(hetero guy in NYC here)

Everything XQUZYPHYR said, in spades. I wouldn't mind SITC so much if it accepted itself for what it was (trash) and didn't try to "say something" about the lifestyle suggested by the title. The people on that show only ever go through "problems" that are manufactured for TV, in a version of NYC that just doesn't exist. For all their complaining, none of the four women are ever really lacking money, companionship, or sex. Poor SJP, she can't decide among the steady stream of smart, good-looking, well-off men who woo her. Boo fucking hoo. Miranda (the "ugly" one) is the only character who is at all realistic.

But, to answer your final question- I'm going to say "no" on both counts. Not because of the issue at hand, but if your relationship is at all in question over this show, your relationship has deeper issues.
posted by mkultra at 10:06 AM on December 7, 2004

Does SATC has anything to do with feminism? Am I missing something? The show seemed like one long advertisement to me.

What Paris said. I'd be leery of a woman who "loved" the show--even as pure camp escapist fantasy--because what the show elevates just isn't very interesting. I thought the show was boring and I'd think people who liked it would be boring too.

Then again, I've seen at most three episodes.
posted by nixerman at 10:07 AM on December 7, 2004

I think you're all missing the point of the show. I think its idealized picture of female friendships is what appealed to its audience. The sex and clothes were just there to give it a veneer of urbanity.
posted by timeistight at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2004

"a stupid, ugly woman's interpretation of what a beautiful, smart woman looks like." I realize that's an incredibly offensive thing to say, but in so many words, it's kinda how I feel.

oooh, that's pretty good, actually. I happen to enjoy the show now and then (can take it or leave it) but do get annoyed by people who hold up the characters as some kind of role models or epitome of modern women or something. They're no more or less so than the characters of any sitcom - it's four "types", much like the cast of "friends", and their wacky, easily wrapped up lives, except with slightly wittier writing.
posted by mdn at 10:22 AM on December 7, 2004

Yes of course your relationship can survive, unless said girlfriend is using the SATC ladies as a role model or something creepy like that.

And on a purely personal note, I. Hate. Carrie. Bradshaw. Yes, I know she's a fictional character. And as a woman I get "the look" also when I vocalize my hatred.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 10:44 AM on December 7, 2004

I watched the first three seasons on DVD (I had nothing else to watch) and, while I really don't care if it depicts something real or not, I just don't think it was funny or even entertaining. I probably laughed once every three episodes and the storylines were boring.
But that's just my opinion.
posted by Penks at 11:00 AM on December 7, 2004

I was dissapointed when that one girl didn't turn back into a Mannequin in the series finale.

Wisecracks aside, a more dangerous concern you should have is the vile offspring of the show; the book "He's just not that into you." If you are male, I dare you to read a chapter and not weep for your masculinity.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:21 AM on December 7, 2004

Again, based mostly on (cringe-inducing hearsay), the show too closely mirrors too many peoples' view on things.

At least most of you wont have to meet a writer for the show and hide your contempt.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:24 PM on December 7, 2004

Generally, I found that the structure already mentioned in this posting assures that whatever totally-hot fella enters the girls' lives (improbably hot, in fact, for a straight guy) will always have that single thing wrong that will give the girl an excuse to ixnay him from her list.

Frankly, the structure of the show seems to indicate that the girls' goal is to find that single flaw. It's a process of driftnetting every white straight guy under 45 in Manhattan and putting a name to the intolerable character flaw they know up front he surely must have.

Since fags loved the show, I see it as selling self-hatred back to gay men twice removed: You sublimate your desires through these onscreen harlots who find something wrong with every man there is. If gays are supposed to like this show, how are gay men supposed to use it to improve their lives in any way at all?
posted by joeclark at 12:45 PM on December 7, 2004

Boo fucking hoo. Miranda (the "ugly" one) is the only character who is at all realistic.

Miranda's ugly?? I think she's the cutest one on the show! Plus the smartest & all-around most likable... 'course she has my name, so one could argue a bias on my part...

But really, I'm surprised by how much people either love or hate this show. To me it seems like a perfectly ordinary occasionally witty half hour sitcom, with completely unrealistic and neatly packaged "situations" (hence sit-com) that illustrate some aspect of life. It's certainly not genius, but I still think it's better than most network sitcoms, and can be entertaining rather than just endlessly irritating the way something like "friends" is. I don't think it has any deeper significance or represents any "strong female characters" or any of that. It's just a serial romantic comedy, bridget jones on tv, that kind of thing. THe plot/set up is completely unremarkable and not at all based on actual life. The continuous "flawed partners" thing is exactly like seinfeld...
posted by mdn at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2004

I'm a straight guy who watched every episode. Well I didn't watch it all the way through, I fast-foward through the learning parts of the show. I don't need to hear Sarah Jessica Parker spew her pseudo-philosophy all over my good ears.

The end of the show really began to show the pettiness of the women, and it became hard to watch. Actually it probably showed what's wrong with a lot of women's thinking in a lot of respects (guys are not your girlfriends, repeat, guys are not your girlfriends). That or it just got really grating. Should I feel sorry for Sarah Jessica Parker that she must choose between an affluent, cosmopolitan Russian artist who whisks her to France... or the more down to earth rich American business man? She wanted to eat her own cake. As a guy I found this quite discerning. I'm supposed to be old fashion but not old fashion in a way you don't like? Or giving the woman independence but treating her like a princess when she wants it -- and you're supposed to somehwo know. Oh wait, we're forgetting the most important part... you gotta be really, really rich.

But the earlier seasons were more about insightful cynicism and boobs. Gay men aren't the only ones who enjoy smart, funny, well dressed women have sex a lot.
posted by geoff. at 2:11 PM on December 7, 2004


Don't even get me started. There's two kinds of pretty. The pretty girls think is pretty (Sarah Jessica Parker, Miranda) and the guy pretty. The hottest on the show were Kim Catrell and Charlotte (ha, I keep going between the real names and stage names). No discussion. Miranda and Ms Parker were definitely in the doable category but for the majority of straight males -- Charolette and Ms Catrell top the list.
posted by geoff. at 2:14 PM on December 7, 2004

If you do watch it with your girlfriend and the episode is about some lousy or repulsive sexual performance and she is laughing, just assume it happened with some other guy.
posted by nev at 2:43 PM on December 7, 2004

I'm a little surprised at the vitriol SATC inspires. I'm with mdn, it's a light show that shouldn't be taken too seriously. I thought the first few series were pretty well written too, but that's just my opinion.

I liked the show in the beginning because it about the only thing on (australian) tv that allowed young, "independant" women to be the sole focus of a show. It was pretty good escapism. That said, I was pretty pissed off with what happened to the women in the last series.
posted by arha at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2004

I am a straight guy in NYC. The only guys I've seen willingly watch the show are gay or probably gay. But people still manage to have relationships.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:15 PM on December 7, 2004

I agree with those who say it's a just a show. Sure, it's unrealistic, upholds some stereotypes- what show doesn't? I love it, but it's not my Bible or anything.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:27 PM on December 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

mdn has it right, perfectly. it's pretty funny at times, eye candy at other times, you can laugh at it and roll your eyes at how ridiculous and unrealistic the situations are, and just have a ball watching these four extremes. i for one loved samantha most of the time, i thought her character was so over the top it was funny and i was usually rooting her on. i didn't have cable when it was on, and was curious enough about it to eventually watch it on dvd -- with my fiance, who was originally against watching it but after he got caught up in it, thought it wasn't all that bad, and even LOL'd at it a few times.

what timeistight said about the female friendships i think is quite true, too. i know i liked the warm fuzzy feeling i got seeing the girls fight-but-make-up-in-the-end, chat, and basically help each other and be there for each other.

oh, and i really don't think you should give it any meaning or significance in your own real life sex life. it's just teevee, it's just for fun, and doesn't require all this hatred or "meaning" that everyone wants to put on it.
posted by rio at 6:32 PM on December 7, 2004

Miranda's ugly?? I think she's the cutest one on the show! Plus the smartest & all-around most likable...

No, I totally agree with you, but if you look at the four as sitcom archetypes, Miranda fills the role of the "plain Jane".
posted by mkultra at 7:54 PM on December 7, 2004

hetero male blah blah blah...

I have watched the show and didn't mind it. Some of it made me laugh, and I think I recognize the absurdity and extremes that it goes to.

Unless it isn't exaggerated, of course.

I joked to my friends that I watched it for research. Mind you this is before I got a job measuring women's jeans and whatnot. It gave me little references to things that I could joke about to my [female] friends who knew the show or the culture it portrays.

I've got deep hatred for many a TV show but this isn't one of them. It has made me laugh and I look to it not for any ideas of feminism or comsumerist propaganda or eye candy or anything like that but solely for comedy.

Charlotte's the cutest, anyway.
posted by codger at 9:13 AM on December 9, 2004

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