Sex and the City
This is popular film made for television is based on the book by Candance Bushnell, a columnist for the “New York Observer. ” The title of the show is based on the title of her column, also called, “Sex and the City” which began in 1996 and is very catchy and known for its wit. As stated before, it would become a television miniseries in American television networks but it was popularly aired in HBO. It would go on to become one of the 100 Best Shows of All-Time in 2007 as published by Time magazine and one could say has become a social phenomena.
The characters appeal to just about every woman from around the world who can somehow relate to them even though their lifestyles are different. If there is one common ground most women all over have with these characters, it is the problems they face in their everyday lives, especially in relationships which seems to be a rather “universal” issue among women in search for that ultimate happiness (Johnston, 2010).
The story centers on four women who happened to be friends as well – Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. All four women typify the modern American woman of today, if not the world or typical New York (Manhattan) woman: Career-driven, successful and watching them would give one the impression that they are living the good life that comes with the lifestyle of upscale Manhattan. But the main theme of the story is on these four women’s search for happiness that no material wealth can give.
The story focuses on their relationships as they encounter different men in their lives in search for that happiness and viewers have a front-row seat on this unusual journey which is seen through the eyes of Carrie as the part of the plot, she “chronicles” their adventures or “misdaventures. ” But more than just entertainment and about social relationships (dating and romance), the show can also serve as a lesson in sociology with regards to the changing trends among women when it comes to their values and way of life.
They represent a distinct brand of feminism – “babe feminism” as Joy Hawkins, in her thesis on the topic, would put it, a product of liberal feminism which is a far cry from the demure conservatives of the past 2-3 centuries (Hawkins, 2003 pp. 4-5; Murty, 2010). This study will look into each of the characters and the researcher intends to discuss and analyze their personality to understand not only why they are struggling to find and have a lasting relationship that will lead to absolute happiness but also the kind of message they tend to evoke with regards to the image of the modern (American) woman.
Character Analysis: The stories in “Sex and the City” are often told through the eyes of Carrie (who also serves as the show’s narrator) who is incidentally a sex columnist, based on Bushnell’s own occupation. Carrie would be Bushnell’s alter-ego in this fictitious story. She would relate her “adventures” here and intertwine it with that of her friends. Carrie and her friends are very close to one another. Their closeness could be said nearly borders on sisterhood and they also serve as each other’s “support system” and are always there for one another through good and bad times (Hawkins, 2003).
Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). She is a well-known columnist in the fictitious “New York Star” where she writes articles. Her status has made her part of New York’s A-list, She is a regular fixture in bars, clubs and restaurants, whether on her own or with companions and has a unique fashion sense, wearing designer outfits. She is sometimes mistaken for a prostitute, though a high-class kind. With her laptop as her “partner,” she often works on in her apartment, writing article after article focusing on her experiences with her relationships in the past which also interspersed with her friends’ own experiences.
Despite her sophisticated lifestyle, Carrie is a simple, open-minded girl looking for love, but also having fun at the same time. She experiences moments of both happiness in her independence and loneliness (ironically), which enables her to relate to a lot of women, in her (fictitious) world and to those in real life who follow her stories (Akass & McCae, 2004, p. 105; Hawkins, 2003, p. 5). Samantha Jones (Kim Catrall).
She is the oldest and most daring of the quartet, especially when it comes to sex but this does not mean Samantha is a nymphomaniac though others do regard her as a slut, albeit a sophisticated one (Akass & McCae, 2004 p. 83). Samantha is enjoying her job in a public relations firm which gives her considerable power and independence in the process. She is confident, strong, outspoken, and adventurous when it comes to sex, daring to try anything which she seems to see as a challenge that needs to be met and this is evident with a number of brief sexual liaisons she has had particularly to one younger model, Smith Jerrod, and she is never ashamed of it, even to the point of bragging about it (Hawkins, 2003, p. 6).
One of Samantha’s best qualities is her loyalty to her friends and this has been demonstrated time and time again and despite her seemingly liberated attitude, she also possesses a sensitive, caring nature, especially to her friends and because of this, it is rather premature or too harsh to judge her quickly as a slut, a hussy or any vile word to describe her penchant for going out with a lot of men. Charlotte York (Kristin Davis). She works in an art gallery and appears to be the more conservative one owing to her upbringing.
She is also the most optimistic of the group who places the most emphasis on emotional, romantic love as opposed to lust, and considered a true romantic as opposed to Samantha’s penchant for “trying something out” which she scoffs, if not resents. She adheres to a more traditional attitude about relationships in the search of the ideal man for her (Akass & McCae, 2004 p. 126; Hawkins, 2003, p. 6). Despite her traditional outlook, she has been known to make bend her own rules which even surprise her friends who know her to be reserved.
She is the only one among her friends who has gotten married though it ended in divorce. Miranda Davis (Cynthia Nixon). She is a career-driven lawyer who is very cynical on relationships and men. Among the four, she is the one closest to Carrie and acts as her foil, being the voice of reason to keep her feet on the ground in reality. She is also the foil to Charlotte’s conventional take on relationships. She is also the only single mother of the group but has managed to find a way to balance her career, and (single) motherhood.
It can be inferred that Miranda has been an achiever all her life and does not want it to be broken or disrupted by anything. Furthermore, her outlook could be the result of that relationship which caused her to have a son whose name is Brady. The irony of this is that she chose to keep the baby when she was bearing him in her womb. Like Samantha, she is willing to get into relationships but with set parameters in terms of commitments where she would not fully commit (Hawkins, 2003, p. 6; Akass & McCae, 2004, p. 72; Jermyn, 2009, p. 38).
Collectively, these four women appear to represent modern American society. As stated before, a lot of women can relate to them despite their affluent lifestyle. It can be inferred that a lot of women in the United States, and perhaps around the world go through the same motions as they have when it comes to relationships in modern times. Through these four women, one can see the travails of seeking happiness in a relationship, underscoring that despite their successful careers, they feel they are not completely happy although Miranda has a different view about it given her experience.
It could be even said that their travails run parallel to the story and lives of the characters of another TV show, “Desperate Housewives” but that is another story yet there can be no denying they have a common denominator (Jermyn, 2009, p. 92). Compare and Contrast: How do the foursome of “Sex and the City” compare to other characters in American stories set in literature, theater, television and film? At this point, this study would like to make a comparison if these four women have something in common with these other characters from earlier stories.
Blanch De Bois from “Streetcar Named Desire. ” At the start of the play, Blanche is already a fallen woman in society’s eyes. She is a social pariah due to her indiscrete sexual behavior. As a result, she has lost everything. Blanche is an insecure, dislocated individual and as the play goes, she is trying desperately to search for the one she would settle down with but her efforts are in vain which ends with her being committed to a mental asylum. It would be tempting to compare Blanche to Samantha, who is known to be very adventurous.
In a way, they have something in common, they do not appear to be ashamed of what they are doing. The difference is in the current milieu where they live. Blanche is a Southern belle, reared in conservative ways and in the eyes of people in her world, her deeds are appalling and improper, hence making her an outcast. Samantha is from Manhattan, where the pace is fast and frenetic given many people here are career-driven and one can hardly be laid-back to notice things that go one and it would suggest that such activity is tolerable where one would assume that Manhattan is a “work hard, play hard” world.
This is also the latter 20th century and early 21st century and there is a big difference on the attitudes of the people now as liberalism appears to trump conservatism in Manhattan, especially in Samantha’s case. Beneatha Younger from “Raisin in the Sun. ” Beneatha, or “Bennie” shares something in common with all four women in that she is ambitious. She aspires to become a doctor and appears to be very focused on it. But in her pursuit of her dreams, her own values clash with the more conservative values of her mother.
What would probably relate her to the foursome is the fact she is dating two different men, Joseph Asagai, a Nigerian and George Murchison, who comes from an affluent background. It could be said that her liberated attitude makes her want to try out (at least) two different men but in the case of Joseph, he has more respect for women and admonishes Bennie for not being too conservative owing to her very liberated attitude and at the same time not too liberal in the sense of wanting to stay in America.
Unlike the four women, Beneatha has managed to come to terms with herself, which translates into happiness, not to mention she is younger as the foursome are over thirty years of age and are more mature. Harper Pitt from “Angels in America. ” At the start of the play, she appears to be the unhappy and miserable wife of Joe, given to having hallucinations, agoraphobic and being addicted to valium. Her transformation began when she had a dream being with Prior which reveals that her husband is gay who has an affair with Louis Ironson.
It is at this point that she began to take charge of her own life and later became independent, moving on and a far cry from what she was. Her later personality typifies that of the Manhattan foursome as they also exude independence and never allowing themselves to be dominated by men even though they are seeking love. Ouisa Kitteridge from “Six Degrees of Separation. ” Her personality is similar to that of Harper where she undergoes transformation as well. But in this case, from a superficial person to become more empathic towards others.
Her early personality can be said to be similar to that of Miranda who is very cynical after her encounter with Paul Poitier. She is also responsible for making Paul turn himself in to the police. Martha Dobie and Karen Wright from “The Children’s Hour. ” The former appears to be the weaker as she is considered highly strung and nervous, and is always dependent on Karen who acts as her “support system. ” This dependence is so extreme to the point of attachment which showed when Karen is about to get married to her fiance Joe. Karen is the opposite of Martha as she is more emotionally stable and has a better outlook than Martha.
Martha’s emotional instability led her to the path of self-destruction where she committed suicide which hurt Karen a lot and somewhat affected her. Compared to the foursome, one can see both sets act as support systems to each other though in the case of Martha and Karen, the latter does most of the supporting. The difference is in the case of Martha and Karen, the loss of one led to the downfall of the other. This is not the case of the foursome as they each have strong personalities, especially Samantha and Miranda which enables them to cope with adversity and move on.
All in all, the four women of “Sex and the City” not only symbolize (to an extent) the modern American woman in terms of socio-economic, and even political stature, but also serve as role models on how they cope with problems which is another reason why they have a huge following. They are regarded as the new symbols of feminism though it is not the same as the “women’s liberation” idea of feminism of being “radical,” but feminist in the sense that they do not overly depend on men for their material needs as each of them have thriving, successful careers in their respective fields.
Yet they still retain a feminine side in them as they seek a genuine relationship, especially in the case of Carrie and Charlotte. It is also through them (particularly Carrie) that women in particular can relate to the travails they go through, making them believable and they are not exaggerations of real-life people. They also show what affluence can do to them, as shown by the empowerment in Samantha and Miranda where they would not allow men to dominate them whether professionally or even intimately, a far cry from the demure belles of the past centuries who are often depicted as vulnerable and dependent on men for security and support.
But at the same time, their liberated personality does not mean they have totally discarded propriety as in the case of Blanch De Bois and others like her in the sense that they are not slutty as some critics would say. And they have also shown they are not overly dependent of men for support as they find support in one another in coping with their problems. The stories of “Sex and the City” has somehow hit the spot in capturing what goes on in the everyday life of the modern woman, intimately, professionally and looking at it in a much bigger picture, socially.