Sex and the City (h2so4 14)
A View from South London
My curiosity about Sex and the City came from reading the ramblings of Garry Bushell on the Box.
Garry Bushell is a TV critic and columnist for The Sun, a top-selling UK tabloid newspaper. He earns a living writing
predictable rants about our decadent TV,reflecting on some of
our more mind-blowingly dull soap opera, pop and rock stars, and
possessing a line in poor jokes. For example his reflections on
Nazi Womena program looking at the lives of women intimately involved with
high-ranking members of the Third Reich: Nazi Women was a let down, not one whip or thigh-high jack-boot in sight.
Bushell is not keen on SATC. He doesnt like the bed-hopping,
seemingly sex-crazed world of four attractive, attached, then
unattached, attached, then detached, well-off New Yorker women
with money in their pockets, packed social diaries and men on
their minds. It sets a bad example for the sexless masses of Britain,
perhaps. It was his words and articles in other publications that
led me to watch a full episode. Since that experiencesometime
in December 2000 to be preciseI have been faithfully monitoring
developments on SATC.
After my conversion, I tried to share my interest in SATC with
four friends, but was met with various degrees of disinterest.
A New York friend of mine was pleased that Sarah Jessica Parker
was spotted in Manhattan sporting a bag with a WNYC logo. Apparently,
Sarah Jessica Parker is a supporter of public radio in New York.
Incidentally, my friend works for WNYC. Sarah Jessica Parker plays
the designer-clothes-wearing, Marlboro-Lights-smoking narrator
and main character, Carrie Bradshawa newspaper columnist who
isnt an expert on men but just writes about sex. Back in London,
a work colleague of mine had heard that Carrie was having secret
sexual liaisons with Big. Big is the nickname of an ex-partner
of Carries who is now married (GULP!). Another friend disliked
Carries choice of Aidan as a sexual partner because he seemed
like a drip. Aidan is a sensitive, downtown furniture designer
who doesnt date smokersa bit of a made-for-TV new-man stereotype.
My last respondent claimedthat the lives of well-dressed and well-scrubbed
New York art-dealers, PR execs, writers and lawyers rattling on
about their sex lives (and their sex lies) was a major turn-off.
In South London, I guess were not supposed to care about New
Yorkers with money to spend, new bars to check out, art gallery
opening nights to trawl through, or fabulous book launches to
attend, all with a whiff of sexual tension in the air. Its not
the type of TV fantasy we should get lost in, those around me
seem to be saying.... And anyway, unnecessary sleepless nights
about dating schemes are redundant around here. Thats for Americans
to get tied up in knots with. What is the drama? Why not just
make it up as you go along? You either go out with someone,
or just knock about with your mates.
My last trip to New York was in December 2000. It was an occasion
for me to think long and hard about the culture of dating in New
York, that unique set of NYC sexual politics and dating routines,
which some people told me was crucial to any hope ofmeeting someone.
Pete, an old mate from South London and now a resident of Brooklyn,
is of the opinion that New York, in all its madness, can be a
difficult place to meet people. Dates are precious commodities
not to be messed with. After chatting up someone whom I sat next
to on the plane over from London, I suggested meeting up. We had,
after all, had hours of interesting conversation. We ended up
sharing a taxi to Brooklyn. However, after a week of negotiation,
deliberation and comingto terms with personal scheduling, the
best slot I could get with her was breakfast or brunch on Saturday
in Park Slope, New York. Id never been asked to meet someone
for breakfast in my life, and in South London brunch is unheard
of. I mulled this over with Pete. He suggested that this was a
decent offer and that I shouldnt raise too many objections.
Of course, SATC people go out on dates with regular ease. They
clearly dont have to contend with offers of breakfast or brunch
on Saturday in Park Slope for starters. Sometimes their dates
result in sex and sometimes they dont. They drop in, out and
back into relationships with nice people, stupid people, wonderful
people and complete time-wasters. On the face of it, this is not
uncommon behaviour for the single and sexually active in a big
city, despite what my attempts at NYC dating life produced. But
its the humour and the subtle slapstick, the well-delivered (if
occasionally less than novel) one-liners, the entertaining descriptions
of experience, the mini-dramas embedded into each script, and
the well-adjusted satire of dating rituals of SATC which Ive
taken to. Ive begun to enjoy watching the interplay, companionship
and relationships generated between the four main characters:
Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Cynthia Nixons Miranda. Miranda
is my favoritelovely posture, great facial expressions.
For an American TV series (consistently interesting US TV imports
to the UK, shown on the fringes of prime time, are a rare species)
this has caught me by surprise. Ive never been convinced that
British television is the best in the world, but perhaps its
the least worst. Bakersfield PD was my last great American television
love: a treasure of subtle comedy about an odd collection of cops
in a small, slow town. SATC has turned out to be my Bakersfield
PD for the millennium.
SATC has been on British television screens since February 1999,
so my recent interest is just over two years too late. Channel
4 is currently screening a SATC double-bill (whoopee!) on Wednesday
nights at 10pm. Now!, a fashion and TV magazine which survives by peddling celebrity
gossip, photographs of celebrity parties, ideas on easy cuisine,
andhow to make your house a comfort zone, runs advertisements
encouraging British women to look as good as the Sex and the
City girlsbut at High Street prices. Roll on up and get your
Upper West Side-style wardrobe by making astute purchases in South
Meanwhile, Garry Bushell has completed an astonishing about turn.
In a recent edition of The Sun he argues that SATC manages to be outrageous, intelligent and
adult. He also points out that images of Charlottes impotent
husband helping himself outmay emotionally scar sensitive viewers.Thankfully,
this is written in ironic tones.
So, looking out of my first floor flat in South London, I can
only wonder if the lovely Cynthia Nixon would care to join me
for a Guyanese cook-up in Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. Or maybe
Cynthia would prefer to spend time in one of those abysmalnew
bars in Times Square. We could meet and discuss the mating habits
of the type of New Yorkers I rarely come into contact with.