-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
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SAMANTHA: "You have to have sex like a man."
CHARLOTTE: "With a dildo?"
SAMANTHA: "No. With no feelings."
Sex And The City:|
complete series one to six
cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Chris Noth
creator: Darren Star
2387 minutes (18) 1999 - 2004
widescreen ratio 16:9 HBO / Paramount
NTSC DVD Region 2 rental / retail
reviewed by Emily Webb
Love it or hate it, Sex And The City is one of the most influential television
series of all time. It's the show that has everything - sex, fashion, relationships,
shoes and... New York City.
Running for 94 episodes over six series, Sex And The City (or 'Sluts in the City',
as it's referred to by its detractors) started spectacularly in 1998 on HBO; more creative
freedom was afforded to it on this cable channel and it went further than any other show
previously had in discussing sexuality and relationships. The first episode established
the central theme of the series: What are the rules in the game of dating, sex, love and
Lead character and narrator, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) poses endless rhetorical
questions about love, sex and relationships as she types her fictional 'Sex and the City'
column for the New York Star: "Is this the end of love in Manhattan?" - "Are
there still certain things in the relationship that we shouldn't say?" - "How the
hell did we get into this mess?" - "Are all men freaks?" ("Does my
incessant need to talk in rhetorical questions get on people's nerves?") And so on...
The structure of Sex And The City is consistent over the six seasons, with the
exception of the direct-to-viewer dialogue that was used in the pilot and seasons one
and two. This was effective early on as the show established its feel and look but as
the seasons progressed and the show became familiar to viewers, there was no need for
Already slick and fresh when it started, Sex And The City gets better with each
season. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha's lives develop so that there are essentially
four subplots within the overall theme of finding love in The Big Apple - Will Carrie
and Mr Big ever end up together? Will Charlotte ever have a baby? Will motherhood soften
Miranda? Will Samantha ever have a serious, intimate relationship with a man, not just
The supporting cast, namely 'the men', add to the appeal of the series; Chris Noth (Law
And Order) as Mr Big, John Corbett (Northern Exposure) as Aidan, Carrie's
other significant relationship in the show, Jason Lewis as Samantha's toy boy hunk Smith,
Kyle McLachlan as Trey, Charlotte's impotent husband and David Eigenberg, Miranda's on/ off
partner Steve with the one testicle (if you aren't familiar with the show, this little
fact is significant in the later seasons).
Some film and television directors of note have been at the helm including Susan Seidelman
(Desperately Seeking Susan), Allison Anders (Gross Point), Martha Coolidge
(Valley Girl) and Michael Patrick King (Dawson's Creek).
The show built its popularity on vicarious thrills - the outfits, the bars, restaurants
and openings, the hairstyles and of course, revolving door of gorgeous men. By series
four, five and six, the avenues to explore became less (lesbianism, bondage, vibrators,
blowjobs and cross dressing have all been covered) and the show relies more on developing
tying up the loose ends of the girls' lives and working towards the 'happily ever after'.
In series three and four, I started to get frustrated by Carrie's neurotic dissection
of her relationship with Aidan. Cute Aidan is sappy, especially with his bandana collared
dog Pete and his earthy, furniture-maker ways but I felt she had to either accept that
he was not as exciting as Mr Big and just marry him and shut up or, dump him and shut
up. (Of course, viewers just know that they are not going to end up together and that
Big is the only man for Carrie.) This irritation aside, I can't fault the characters.
Season six; especially the final episodes An American Girl In Paris (Parts une and
deux) are my favourites. Mikhail Baryshnikov is fascinating as Carrie's Russian lover
and the man she follows to Paris. Despite her excitement at being in the 'city of love',
Carrie in Paris is like a fish out of water: she belongs in New York with Big and her
girlfriends. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen this series but I will say it's
happy endings all around.
Watching Sex And The City makes me want to move to New York, dress better, get
my own column and date lots of men (maybe that's why my husband hates the show). It would
be a guilty pleasure if it weren't so well done.
DVD features include season indexes for every episode, making-of featurettes, interviews
with the cast and the various season teasers and trailers.