Sunday, February 22, 2004

The End of 'Sex': I posted the following over at blogcritics, regarding Sex and the City shortly before it's series finally which appeared tonight.
Whenever I hear people talk about the social or political importance of some TV show or movie, I reflexively sneer. If I had a nickel for every time some sycophantic reviewer declared a show to have had a revolutionary effect on society, I could afford that incredible looking 50-inch plasma TV I saw at Best Buy this weekend.

So it goes with Sex and the City. Some of the current love fest is obligatory with the series coming to an end, but even a critic as august as the late Pauline Kael felt there was something special about it. If I recall, Kael said the interesting thing about Sex and the City is that it portrays women talking about men the way men usually talk about women. (I'm paraphrasing, I couldn't find the exact cite.)

Kael was, I believe, only half right. Men don't actually talk about women like that -- at least not after their late teens/early twenties (technically, still boys), and the ladies of Sex and the City are coming up fast on the big four-oh. I have spent my share of time in sports bars and locker rooms and other areas where men congregate and I have never heard women spoken of the way men are spoken of on Sex and the City.

I can verify, however, that women of that age do talk like that. You can find yourself in a mixed group of 30-40 year-olds having an active conversation and, invariably, the ones talking bluntly and crudely about sex are the women. Often it gets so bad that the men have to go off to watch Sportscenter. Women are pigs.

So when I read that Sex and the City has been a cornerstone in the empowerment of women, I can only think, "Empowerment to do what, shamelessly converse like pubescent boys?" You've come a long way, baby.

Given all that, it might surprise you that I like Sex and the City. Stripped of the hype, Sex and the City is -- or was -- a good quality half-hour sitcom. Since it's HBO, they can turn up the nudity, sex and profanity which can make it seem like something out of the ordinary, but that's about what it is. They have done a good job over the years of growing the main characters out of their original superficialities. Fine acting performances, including the ones from the guest stars, are de rigueur. There has been a good balance of comic contrivance with soap-opera storylines. And they are getting out before everything goes stale (although I hear there is a full-length movie planned, which is worrisome).

Not actually revolutionary, but still a very good job. That's nothing to sneer at.

I have now seen the 45-minute finale. It was well crafted, not too overwrought, and it generally escaped the pitfalls that usually ensnare series finales. It held my attention the whole time and was mildly amusing.

It was followed immediately by Curb Your Enthusiam and I was on the freakin' floor laughing for a half-hour straight.

That about sums it up.