Friday, December 10, 2010

Industry By: Laura Daniel

As a group we decided to each take on one question to better discover Sex and the City. My question was: How the show is positioned industrially--Where is the show situated in relation to other programming trends, the contemporary television schedule, and within a larger networking strategy?

HBO is a network that stands for Home Box Office. This is the network that Sex and the City aired and is currently airing on. 
The original airing of Sex and the City took place after 9PM because of the nudity and language in the show. 
Currently the show is airing at noon which is when I enjoy watching it. But it is also airing reruns at night around 11PM for an hour. 

Where a show is situated in a line up can really define its viewability. The difference with Sex and the City than most other shows is the nudity, language, and content that occurs within each episode. It is because of this that it has to be aired later at night when children should be asleep. 
After the 9PM "bedtime" shows that shouldn't be seen by children are allowed to show nudity and have more colourful language than those shown before this time. 

The strategy of this network was to keep people coming back with both serial and episodic elements presenting characters and some plot lines that carry through the entirety of the series. 

As can be seen by the popularity of the show it did very well. So well in fact that two movies were made from it carrying on the Sex and the City tradition, bringing girls around the world together for friends, sex, and cosmos. 

The Final Meeting of the Minds: By Faryn Wegler

In our meeting this week, we decided to talk about our final thoughts on Sex and the City and what we thought of the whole season in relation to how women are represented on TV as a whole.

Major Themes We Have Covered
•    The Value of Female Friendship
•    Female Independence (i.e. career success)
•    Sexual Freedom
•    Materialism
•    Obsession With Men

Course Material We Have Tied In
•    Thematic parallelism
•    Serial and episodic elements
•    Stereotypical vs. non stereotypical gender roles
•    Representation of race
•    Readings by Amanda Lotz and L.S. Kim 
•    Is HBO a women’s network?

Is the Show a Progressive Representation of Women?

Throughout the semester we have provided evidence that supports both a progressive and limiting view of women in the series.

Progressive View
•    Sex and the City took after earlier situation comedies oriented towards representing the “new-age” woman. Shows such as Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970), Kate and Allie (1984), and Designing Women (1986) were about independent women making decisions for themselves.
•    Although the Sex and the City women are often focused on finding the “perfect” man, they each are career-oriented and strive to be successful on their own
•    The show is idealistic about the way that women can get unconditional love from one another; it shows that men are not necessarily needed to feel “loved”
•    The show tackled modern issues faced by many women (i.e. abortion, breastfeeding, STDs, getting dumped by a man)
•    Sex and the City has given women a language with which to talk about their experiences and their friendships. It has become “okay” for women to be open about their sex lives. 

Limiting View
•    The women’s constant obsession with talking about men, finding men and changing men comprised almost every episode we viewed
•    We feel as though this is a limiting view of women as it insinuates that they need a man in order to complete their lives (female friendship may not be enough)
•    In some ways, the show is at odds with how women's lives have changed since the rise of feminism. Their working lives have got longer, and their opportunities to have children have got harder. This makes viewers question whether or not the characters are really embracing feminism or simply dealing with its consequences

Final Thoughts on This Project

Our group has worked exceptionally well together in creating our “Sex and the City” blog this semester. By gathering together each week, we had the opportunity to contribute our personal thoughts on the series and hear each other’s viewpoints. We found that our different perspectives and opinions helped us gain a richer understanding of how the show is perceived by female viewers. We hope you had as much fun reading our blog as we did creating it.

Sex and The City Discourse By: Faryn Wegler

Fan Sites
The plethora of Sex and the City Fan sites on the web demonstrate what a massive phenomenon the series itself has become. The web sites (dedicated primarily to the female-centered audience) contain videos, links, quizzes, star news, episode guides, cast biographies. There are also polls with questions such as “What character are you most like?” and “Who would you rather have as your best friend?” The online stores have SATC merchandise such as books, DVDs, posters and even vibrators available for purchase.

Some popular SATC fan sites:

Awards & Reviews
- Over its course of six seasons, "Sex and the City" was nominated for over 50 Emmy Awards, winning seven times
- The show has been both praised and criticized by critics.
- Entertainment named the show #5 on its list of the best shows in the past 25 years, saying, "The clothes from SATC raise your cosmos! A toast to the wonderful wardrobe from Sex and the City, which taught us that no flower is too big, no skirt too short, and no shoe too expensive."
- Others have argued that the show represents a decline in moral values given that the sole purpose of the series is for the characters to boast about their sexual exploits with as many men as possible.
- After the release of the second film, the Washington Post stated that the “lightweight storyline, shameless materialism and unapologetic shallowness provided easy targets for sniffy critics.”

Drama Queens By: Faryn Wegler

The Dating “Rules”

In the episode Drama Queens, Charlotte presses on in her mission to be married by year's end. At lunch she shows the ladies a new book she has purchased, entitled, Book called “Marriage Incorporated: How to Apply Successful Business Strategies to Finding a Husband”. She then says she is going to befriend her married friends husbands in order to get to know their bachelor friends. Charlotte’s belief in following certain dating “rules” is common amongst many modern day women who want to get married; we even saw the appearance of a similar book in the Ally McBeal episode (“The Kiss”) we viewed at the beginning of the semester called “All The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right”. Similar to Ally, Charlotte too has faith that following a guideline of rules could potentially help women land the perfect husband. Being professional businesswomen, both Charlotte and Ally believe that they should approach finding a mate with the same dedication and organization they bring to their careers. This demonstrates the pressure women over the age of thirty often feel to “settle down” and conform to the traditional societal gender roles of being a wife and mother.

Women Complaining About Men

Miranda wonders if her relationship with Steve is becoming too comfortable when she finds "skid marks" in his underwear. She tells Carrie, “We whine when we don’t have a boyfriend and we whine when we do.” Women complaining about the lack of a man in their life or problems with the man they are dating have been seen in practically every episode of SATC we have viewed so far. Despite being a successful lawyer, Miranda too is preoccupied with finding a man, or talking about her boyfriend’s imperfections. The progressive, feminist attitude the women display in their careers is undermined by their constant obsession with talking about men.

Gender Role Reversal

Three weeks into her relationship with Aidan, Carrie begins to freak because everything seems so perfect. When Aidan asks Carrie to meet his parents, she can't deal and finds herself saying no. Carrie realizes that in her relationship with Aidan, she's been behaving like Big, and he's been acting like the sensitive and available guy she always wanted Big to be. The fact that Carrie believes she is behaving like the “man” in the relationship (in that she is anxious to take big steps such as meeting the parents) demonstrates a sort of gender reversal amongst her and Aiden. This can be considered a progressive representation of women in that Carrie has the option of choosing whether or not she is “ready” to take the next step in her relationship. Unlike most episodes where the women are constantly pressuring their men to commit, this episode highlights Carrie’s modern-age womanly independence that permits her to decide whether or not the relationship is “right” for her.

Are We Sluts?: By Jennifer Marie Stranges

This episode of Sex and the City explores the question that many critics of the show pose: Are we sluts?
The female characters of the show, although scattered in their different views of sexual liberation, all participate in and exercise the perks of sexual liberation. "Oh please, if you're a whore what does that make me?" laughs promiscuous Samantha in response to traditional Charlotte. Miranda and Carrie immediately look down in avoidance of the answer. However after several incidents in the episode, Carrie ponders the reality of her and her friends being "sluts" in her latest column.

As per usual Sex and the City fashion, the theme of the episode parallels across several characters:

  • Carrie is eager to sleep with her new boyfriend Aidan.
  • Charlotte fears being a whore after her new boyfriend screams "You fucking bitch, you fucking whore" while he ejaculates.
  • Samantha's neighbors judge her sexual promiscuity when her late-night sexcapade lets an intruder into the building  behind him.
  • Miranda has chlamydia and must contact all the people she might have passed it to - "all" being more than she'd like to admit.
"Don't people date anymore?" asks Aidan. Carrie realizes the lack of expectation for romance these days, and begins to desire a more traditional dating experience with Aidan. 

When Aidan runs a bubble bath for Carrie, she realizes that although that her right to promiscuity as a response to feminism has its perks, the traditional "waiting" experience with Aidan was worth it.

"No If's Ands, or Buts" By: Jami McGuigan

Unlike most episodes of Sex and the City, this episode particularly focuses on racial issues. Sex and the city addresses race in this episode and points out the horrible ideologies that people have towards inter-racial couples. When Samantha is dating an African American man named Siobahn, his sister, Adena, does not approve because Samantha is white. In this episode, racism is shown through Adena’s hatred; luckily Samantha stands up for herself. Regardless of who you are, racism should not be tolerated. I think it is great how the producers of Sex and the City incorporated this topic into the show and how they exemplified Samantha as a woman who who not only stands up for herself, but also for her race:

Samantha also says: “I don’t see color, I see conquests...there is no reason to bring race into this, Siobahn is a sweet man, we have the greatest sex… and he has the biggest heart”

On the other hand, this episode also incorporates stereotypes associated with African Americans into the script. It is unfortunate how these women go from standing up for what is right to participating in something that is wrong. 
- Samantha stereotypes "black cooking"--“Martha Stewart meets puff daddy on a plate”
- Carrie: “you gotta love a brother who loves his jewelry”
- The girls “talk black” when discussing Siobah, Charlotte corrects them by saying “It’s not black talk, it’s African American talk”
- The “Black Scene” is portrayed very stereotypically
- When Samantha and Siobahn are in the line for a club hard core rap music is playing and people are yelling swearing and being “gangster” “back of the line mother fucker"
- When they enter the club, they have to go through metal detectors and everyone inside is very gangster and thug-like

In relationships, there are certain things that cross the line. In this episode, the characters stand up for themselves when it comes to all of the “deal breakers”. 
- Charlotte cannot continue to date a man because he is a bad kisser
- Aiden cannot date Carrie because she is a smoker
- Stanford cannot be with a man who collects dolls
- Siobahn’s cannot date Samantha because his sister does not approve

"Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl" By: Laura Daniel

Aired: 25 June 2000


Charlotte's gallery scores a big hit with the works of the artist Baird Johnson, rare even for New Yorkers' almost un-shockable standards: drag kings, women completely dressed-up as men; Baird, himself a gentleman, even gets conservative WASP lady Charlotte to pose for him, his way. Samantha was looking for an assistant, but one look on sexy stud Matt decided her mind in his favor; his professionally unacceptable arrogant attitude to her PR clients still gets him fired, but both are immediately eager to start jumping each-other's bones now are they no longer ethically barred. Carrie's boyfriend Sean isn't just young enough to be more boy then her others friends, he's also openly bisexual, which starts her wondering if gender is a dying concept. Miranda is back with Steve and gave him a key, but really wrestles with his tendency to 'invade' her apartment territory, such as sleeping with his head touching 'her' pillow.

My Thoughts: 

This episode was a great summary for me of Sex and the City, it reiterated the basis of Sex and the City bringing up important issues that are occurring in the world today. 
After watching many episodes of Sex and the City in a critical perspective I have come to find that I am not a fan of the way the series is put together. Yes, this is a show directed towards women but the lives of these women isn't actually what we are encountering. Carrie is a free lance writer, living in New York making very minimal money and can still manage to afford an apartment and Manolo Blanic? I think not... Sure the other girls like Samantha who is in PR, Miranda a lawyer, and Charlotte being a trust fund baby. The lives these women lead are ridiculously fantasized. 
Yes the issues that they encounter are important and do need to be discussed but Carries life in particular seem falsified and far fetched.