Sunday, August 09, 2015

More SATC Thoughts

I finally saw the Sex and the City movie, which was pretty good although I was sorry that Samantha Jones left Smith Jerrod.

I had bonded with a project manager at the office when I included names from characters from the TV series in some technical documentation I wrote. She is a big fan of SATC and has been bugging me to watch the movies.

I've heard bad things about the second movie though, so who knows when I'll watch it. Although the hate might just be due to the traditional girls-like-stupid-shit response. Emily Nussbaum wrote an interesting piece about the show a couple of years ago, observing:

So why is the show so often portrayed as a set of empty, static cartoons, an embarrassment to womankind? It’s a classic misunderstanding, I think, stemming from an unexamined hierarchy: the assumption that anything stylized (or formulaic, or pleasurable, or funny, or feminine, or explicit about sex rather than about violence, or made collaboratively) must be inferior. Certainly, the show’s formula was strict: usually four plots—two deep, two shallow—linked by Carrie’s voice-over. The B plots generally involved one of the non-Carrie women getting laid; these slapstick sequences were crucial to the show’s rude rhythms, interjecting energy and rupturing anything sentimental. (It’s one reason those bowdlerized reruns on E! are such a crime: with the literal and figurative fucks edited out, the show is a rom-com.)

Most unusually, the characters themselves were symbolic. As I’ve written elsewhere—and argued, often drunkenly, at cocktail parties—the four friends operated as near-allegorical figures, pegged to contemporary debates about women’s lives, mapped along three overlapping continuums. The first was emotional: Carrie and Charlotte were romantics; Miranda and Samantha were cynics. The second was ideological: Miranda and Carrie were second-wave feminists, who believed in egalitarianism; Charlotte and Samantha were third-wave feminists, focussed on exploiting the power of femininity, from opposing angles. The third concerned sex itself. At first, Miranda and Charlotte were prudes, while Samantha and Carrie were libertines. Unsettlingly, as the show progressed, Carrie began to glide toward caution, away from freedom, out of fear.
I've been toying with the idea of writing a series based on NYC myself. Maybe I'll call it A Tale of Two Boroughs - meaning Queens and Brooklyn. I like the idea of combining the best aspects of Tales of the City (also a better series than text-based phenomenon) and the TV show Sex and the City.

I tracked down the original Sex and the City columns written by Bushnell for the New York Observer. They have almost nothing in common with the TV series, although some of characters have the same names and similar traits.

You can tell that this was written twenty years ago - not only is it not that difficult for a woman in her early 40s to get 25-year-old guys these days, it's not that difficult for a woman in her early 50s to get 25-year-old guys. Now hot 25-year-old guys is another story, but that's not what the sentence below says.
Loving Mr. Big
Ed. note: This column was originally published on April 24, 1995.] 
A 40-ish movie producer I’ll call “Samantha Jones” walked into Bowery Bar and, as usual, we all looked up to see whom she was with. Samantha was always with at least four men, and the game was to pick out which one was her lover. Of course, it wasn’t really much of a game, because the boyfriend was too easy to spot. Invariably, he was the youngest, and good-looking in the B-Hollywood actor kind of way—and he would sit there with a joyously stupid expression on his face (if he had just met Sam) or a bored stupid look on his face (if he had been out with her a few times). Because at that point it would be beginning to dawn on him that no one at the table was going to talk to him. Why should they, when he was going to be history in two weeks? We all admired Sam. First of all, it’s not that easy to get 25-year-old guys when you’re in your early 40’s. Second, Sam is a New York inspiration. Because if you’re a successful single woman in this city, you have two choices: You can beat your head against the wall trying to find a relationship, or you can say “screw it” and just go out and have sex like a man. Thus: Sam. This is a real question for women in New York these days. For the first time in Manhattan history, many women in their 30’s to early 40’s have as much money and power as men—or at least enough to feel like they don’t need a man, except for sex. While this paradox is the topic of many an analytic hour, recently my friend Carrie, a journalist in her mid-30’s, decided, as a group of us were having tea at the Mayfair hotel, to try it out in the real world. To give up on love, as it were, and throttle up on power, in order to find contentment. And, as we’ll see, it worked. Sort of. 
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