A retrospective of the groundbreaking TV series, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of its premier.
When Sex and the City first aired on HBO in 1998, the provocative comedy about four attractive, single women living glamorous lives in New York City quickly gained an immense following. The show marked a significant departure from typical network situation comedies and, along with the Sopranos, would lead to an increased demand for well-written adult-themed programs, many of which would be produced through cable networks. TV historian and entertainment writer Armstrong (Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything, 2016, etc.) provides an in-depth account of the show, from the early development stages in its transformation from Candace Bushnell’s popular weekly column in the New York Observer to its six seasons and eventual incarnation as two films. Through interviews with various cast members and writers, including the show’s creator, Darren Star, and executive producer, Michael Patrick King, the author shares vivid stories of the writing process, with particular emphasis on the women writers whose personal dating experiences inspired many of the memorable plotlines. Armstrong is clearly a fan of the show, yet she offers a balanced and insightful perspective of its cultural influence, specifically in relation to our country’s evolving feminist movement. “Sex and the City, for all of its excellent and addictive qualities, served as a weekly commercial for white ladies doing what they want as the ultimate liberation,” she writes. “Its portrayal of women as layered characters, flawed and sometimes unlikable, freed the women of television and the women who watched them to embrace more than the traditionally feminine role meant to delight men at all costs. But the show also equated feminism with wearing expensive clothes and sleeping with lots of men. While this was a step up from single women as cat ladies, it only provided a limited view of liberation in which patriarchy hasn’t lost much ground.”
An entertaining, well-documented consideration of a significant TV series—thoughtful fare for TV historians as well as fans of the show.