An entertaining, well-documented consideration of a significant TV series—thoughtful fare for TV historians as well as fans...

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SEX AND THE CITY AND US

HOW FOUR SINGLE WOMEN CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK, LIVE, AND LOVE

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.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6482-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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