Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Our Very Own…Sex and the City

1 Comment

Sex and the City. Pretty much every consumer of media has heard of it, and many have watched one or more episode. I, myself, plead guilty to this claim. The show was created by Darren Star for HBO, and had six seasons running from 1998-2004, finally culminating with two feature-length motion pictures. Sex and the City is a show about four women in New York who live (or appear to live) quite glamorously and spend most of their time shopping, talking about fashion and sex, and pursuing men.

This is Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker). Carrie spends much of her time with the “gang”- her friend group consisting of Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). As was mentioned above, and as can be seen in the picture, Carrie lives somewhat glamorously. She has lots of clothes (and quite an extravagant selection, at that), lives in a pretty chic apartment in New York, and is known for her philosophy of “I have a right to shoes.”

Carrie-bradshaw-flower the gangs all here

Her friends are not really that different. They all have lots of stuff, and like to spend their time on screen doing many leisurely activities like shopping, having brunch and dating. This is not to say that they don’t work. Carrie is a writer, and the other three have professions of their own that they are shown working towards every so often. But what would Adorno and Horkheimer say?

This show appears to have a predominately female audience, tying into the idea that “everybody must behave in accordance with his [or her] predetermined indexed level, and choose the category of mass production turned out for his [or her] type” (41). This show was made for women, and is viewed largely by women. Due to this, the show is promoting the idea that people must stay inside their own type, and not move around. There is little wiggle room material wise in this show for men, or even some minorities, since the main characters are women, who are also upper-class and white.

By focusing on an upper-class woman in New York who essentially has it all, the show is allowing for the sort of trance being suggested by Adorno and Horkheimer. Regardless of their class, the show sucks viewers in and makes them as a viewer believe that they too can have this sort of life. In other words, it creates this illusion that the “outside world is a straightforward continuation of that presented on screen” (43). The lack of work that is physically happening in the show gives off the illusion to those watching it that the success of the women on screen can be achieved simply by looking pretty and doing stereotypically feminine things. Essentially, one can have this sort of life without doing much work at all. This is evidence that “the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are” (46). Viewers who are not necessarily successful can feel successful while watching Sex and the City simply because of this sort of manipulation, and escape from their world of work (in other words, reality) for a little while. Those who are successful have done what it takes to get there, and perhaps are not taken in as much by this idea. But for the majority, it is possible to walk away saying “I TOO have the right to shoes.”



One thought on “Our Very Own…Sex and the City

  1. I will guiltily admit that I am in the minority of men who have watched (cough cough all of) “Sex in the City.” I think you raise an interesting point about how the show promotes the success of women by “simply looking pretty and doing stereotypically feminine things.” From watching the show I agree the at Carrie and Charlotte follow that model throughout the series. However, for a while, Miranda is seen as having to work extremely hard to push the men in her office into take her seriously. For a while she misses her son’s performances and games because she is working so hard that she doesn’t have time to relax. Granted then she quits her job to find one where she doesn’t have to work so hard and has more time to relax…and we are back to looking pretty again.

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