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Revisiting 'Sex and the City'

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Monday, Aug 24, 2009


In times of happiness and despair, I find myself returning to my pink, velvet-bound Sex and the City box set. Before you start assaulting my virile masculinity, or judging me for clinging onto passé cultural nuances, I think it is important to assert that Sex and the City (1998-2004), now that’s the TV show, not the movie(s), is a timeless cultural by-product.

The term ‘by-product’ is key here because the programme’s success is ultimately put down to the fact that it was a masterwork of self-reflexive puns, clichés and popular assumptions. It embraced glamorized notions of the everyday, and illuminated them into a bustling fantasy-world that everyday boys and gals could quote, imitate or joke about, whilst refilling their empty bottles at the water cooler.
The show’s success also rests on the fact that its core character set is based on accessible stereotypes. Our narrator, Carrie is the self-involved, self-enquiring voice of the masses, which are consumed entirely by capitalism’s false sense of need. Miranda was the awkward tomboy we all knew in school, who finds it difficult to embrace her femininity. While, both Charlotte and Samantha exist on the aspirational end of the scale. One, a preppy, and perfect model of erudite New England glamour, and the other a ballsy sexual maniac, who is able to live life by her very own set of rules.

Now, throw in a bunch of studly looking men, i.e. the all-round American male, Aidan, the enigmatic, Mr. Big, your Joe Blog, Steve, along with some of the most expensive fashion accessories in the world (Manolo, Prada, Fendi etc…), and there you have it, one of the most notable cultural by-products in history.

Say what you will about the show. Some have deemed it feminist, post-feminist, or outright sexist, but in the end, Sex and the City is nothing more than a reflection of the audience’s collective set of desires. Don’t we all want to have fabulous sex all the time, to lunch at five star restaurants with our friends (whenever we want), to live in beautiful apartments, to work in glamorous industries, and to wear the best clothes that money can buy? Yes, yes, yes!

The glory of Sex and the City as such, is that it allows us a public forum to relate, and name-drop every story line, every ensemble, every cocktail, and to be able to share that in the continuing narrative of our everyday lives. So, the next time that you are feeling down, ring up your girlfriends (or boyfriends), and whip out that Sex and the City box set, board game or whatever it is…pore out those Cosmo’s, and remember that nothing brings people together like this piece of melodramatic popular culture.

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