4 gals in New York City looking for love and labels (fashion brands) is the premise of the ‘romcom’ that had a successful run of 6 seasons on HBO. It was a pioneer show that caught on the trend of ‘chick-flick’ early in the game and had a long run of success. It started to fade eventually particularly in its last season. It had a spin-off as a couple of movies that followed. They minted money but ruined its franchise for sure for many viewers
Carrie Bradshaw played famously by Sarah Jessica Parker is a freelance writer who writes a column in the local newspaper that deals with sex, singlehood and fashion. She stays in New York City and is part of a close-knit gang of 4 gals who are real soul mates. Carrie spends her life chasing her passions – shoes, fashion and the romance of finding the ‘right man’. She is in her mid 30s and her friends share similar interest.The gals include Charlotte – a typical ‘Ms. Two Goody Shoes’ who is conservative and conventional with a rather romantic view of life and marriage.She works as a director of an Art Gallery. In sharp contrast we have Samantha – a sexholic who enjoys the game and gives a tuppence to romance and relationship. Carrie muddles along between the two contrasts. The group has a realist in Miranda who is a Corporate Lawyer and the conscience-keeper of the Group. She is very intelligent and grounded but finds it difficult to express her feelings and manage her male relationships.
What worked for me on the show –
It is a real authentic piece of action – it captures the spirit of New York. For many people who have only heard about the great city it brings to life the buzz around the place. Eventually it goes a bit hyperbole of the fashion scene – the innumerable shoe places, the fashion shows, the glitzy bars and restaurants, the happening ‘gay’ scene dominate too much for us to get a rare sighting of a museum, central park, and the subway.
Authentic stories – funny, weird, crazy anecdotes about the social scene and the trials-n – tribulations of finding ‘true love’. It works because the writers were particular to include stories that had actually happened and just not ‘luck-it-out’. They were intelligent enough to weave in things that help develop the character arcs for the 4 gals and quite a few recurrent gags resulted from these choices.
Linking it to Carrie’s newspaper columns and those ‘intriguing’ questions she would wonder out loud to the audience. It was a great hook device and it also worked because the questions were relatable and caught our interest. Occasionally the plot was ‘force-fitted’ to give us an answer but often episodes manage to find a cute way to answer the question raised by Carrie.
It was a feminist oriented show with an Original ‘point of view’. The ladies had their own mind and were not afraid to speak up for themselves. They often had contrasting views on people and situations but that would just add to the fun. There would be a free and frank exchange of views and opinions with a sparkle of wit and humour. It broke the clutter when it first appeared and no wonder the show took off on the popularity charts.
What didn’t work for me on the show –
It overstayed its welcome period – post the 4th season it lost a lot of its zing and by the last season it was it some alternate space. The themes became repetitive and the story lost its hold on youth and romance. It became serious and entered the ‘middle-aged’ angst period. Even Samantha’s life became complicated with her struggles to fight cancer. Such shows too have their audience but the original premise of the show seemed to get lost. It still chugged along with an odd episode that reminded us of its old charms. The eventual reunion of Carrie and Mr. Big did give us a sentimental tug.
Eventually it morphed further with 2 movie versions – ‘Sex and the City 1’ and ‘Sex and the City 2’. By now it was a rip-off trying to encash the popularity of the original show. The plot lines were plain bizarre and there was none of the old sparkle in them. Exotic foreign locales couldn’t make up for the Manhattan skyline. Obscene display of luxury, designer bags, shoes and fashion couldn’t hide the lack of genuine content in the story. The second installment was even worse as it was a cultural bloomer – the depiction of the Middle East was condescending and rather superficial.
It didn’t become a bit symptomatic of the show now – a life in a bubble where shoes and fashion reign supreme. By now the plot lines were exhausted thread-bare and there wasn’t any real potential left to be explored. There was no heavy lifting to be done now and even the pretence of having a story to tell was shorn off. Guess the final nail in the coffin had been hammered since for years now a rumour appears about ‘Sex and the City 3’ and then it dies its natural death.
Well life moves on and if you feel a bit sentimental the re-runs of the initial 4 seasons are worth a watch on the cable or the internet.