Wednesday, May 14, 2014

guilty pleasures: Sex and the City.

I have something to admit to you, and you’re not going to like it.

I love Sex and the City.

I know, I know.

Sex and the City is often brainless, always materialistic, and the characters are the neediest pack of women to ever cross my television screen, but I JUST LOVE IT.

My introduction to Sex and the City occurred in college. Until then, I was blissfully unaware of the show – sure, I’d heard of it, but I had no idea what it was about and had no desire to learn. This was well after the show had been syndicated, and TBS was showing reruns practically non-stop. One of my college roommates would turn on the TV for homework background noise, and Sex and the City was almost always on. It was a good choice for homework night: not something you really had to pay attention to, but enough to keep you vaguely amused while writing your paper on Shakespeare.

I started off only half-watching, but the more I watched, the more entertaining it became. The reruns were never in order – wait, when did Miranda have a baby? when did Charlotte marry the bald guy? – but I found myself wanting to watch the progression from beginning to end.

So I started watching the show online. I’d watch an episode here or there – they were only thirty minutes long, so it was easy to sneak a couple in between classes. Before I knew it, I caught up in the never ending drama of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Sure, I got frustrated with them (Carrie cheating on Aiden with Mr Big? SLEAZY.) and tired of their antics (don’t even get me started on Samantha), but I stick it out until the bitter end.

And I (mostly) loved it. But why? These women’s lives were completely different than mine was – or will ever be. I could relate to so little of what they were doing – as opposed to the friends in the show, my friends and I had more to talk about than men.

Allow me to bring up the Bechdel test: the Bechdel test demands that there are at least two women in a work of fiction who talk to each other about something else besides men. While there are four starring women in this show, they rarely talk about topics other than men. Sure, they’ll maybe chat about some fabulous and unaffordable shoes, but the conversation always turns back to men. Bechdel test = FAILED.

(Fun fact: in one episode, Miranda actually flips out on her friends because all they do is talk about men. By the end of the episode, they’re all friends again… and talking about men.)

So I definitely didn’t watch Sex and the City for its intellectual properties. It was, for the most part, a light and fluffy comedy full of dirty words. Serious stuff didn’t happen too often, but they’d throw something in every now and again – cancer, infertility, divorce, unplanned pregnancy. And that was what kept me coming back.

Honestly, I enjoyed seeing what was going to happen to the characters, even if the odds of something like that happening to me were ten zillion to one – after all, they all somehow end up super rich.

And there was definitely some attraction in seeing them do the things that I could never do. Carrie spent money like there was absolutely no tomorrow. While I would love to live in New York and just buy whatever I felt like, I know it’s not feasible. She did make references to maxed-out credit cards, but thanks to a windfall from a friend and a surprise book deal, her money issues suddenly evaporated.

That’s another thing: Carrie made her living as a writer. Everyone knows how extraordinarily difficult it is to actually make writing your career, but Carrie seemed to spend more time shopping and eating out and sleeping around than she ever did working on her career. (Which was a sex column, so I guess you could call sleeping around “field research.”)

Obviously, I love to write – I wouldn’t have kept up this blog for almost three years (!!!) if I didn’t. Sex and the City made a writer’s life look super glamorous (and EASY!), and you apparently got buckets of money for shoes. Fact: blog writing is nothing like that at all.

The movie came out between my junior and senior years of college, and I was SO EXCITED. I went with a couple of friends, and we even made sure to wear dresses for the occasion. (As poor college students, wearing dresses to a movie as a big deal.) I would rate the first movie as a solid “meh.” As I should’ve expected, the entire movie was Carrie talking Mr Big. (Spoiler: he leaves her at the altar, but of course she takes him back.) So… meh. On the bright side, the movie had a really neat version of “Auld Lang Syne,” so there’s that!

Even though I knew it was going to be just terrible, I still went ahead and watched the second movie. And it was not just terrible, but TERRIBLE. The movie was just like “look at how rich we are, SO SO rich, but somehow our lives are miserable! My husband put a TV in the bedroom! I have a nanny and a rich husband and no job, but my life is REALLY REALLY HARD! Boo hoo!!!”

So that was tiresome.

Here’s what I’ll do: I’m just going to pretend that the movies don’t exist and that the whole thing ended with the series finale. Done and done.

Even though Sex and the City and I do have our differences, I have this inexplicable soft spot for that dumb show. Towards the end of college and shortly thereafter, I slowly bought the seasons of Sex and the City as my income (and sales at Target) would allow. Just like in college, I’ll turn it on for background noise when I’m doing something else: I’ve seen it all before, so I don’t really need to pay attention – it’s just fun to have around.

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