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Sex and the City Deviated Way too Much for My Liking
I first caught SATC in the late nineties, and thought it was great. At the time the show really captured a certain nineties sensibility - it was cynical, tongue-in-cheek, adult. Though not your average SATC fan - heterosexual, thirty-something male working in IT - I became obsessed, and was sure to see each new episode the first time it aired. However, over time I became disillusioned with the series.
First, I eventually read the book. Despite the author's reluctance to say anything, the show never was much like the book, and has - over the years - strayed far far away. The book is, like most of Candace Bushnell's work, insightful and witty, with its humor derived from a certain urbane severity; it shares more with the works of Carrie Fischer and Tama Janowitz than any of the stuff now labeled Chick Lit.
Bushnell's characters may fall in love, even marry. They may have Manolos and Birkin bags, but this is all background noise of sorts. Bushnell is an under-rated pop-anthropologist, depicting the tribes that inhabit the big city. We may no longer be hunting our food, or struggling to keep the fire going, but it is still all about survival. Bushnell is great at depicting the primal hunger that, while it once made man fight to the death over territory or a fresh kill, now makes women deck themselves out in top gear and hunt down that Banker or Fortune 500 Executive, or fight tooth-and-nail to break through the glass ceiling.
Second, somewhere midlife, SATC, the show, got lost. All that incidental stuff - the shoes and bags, and places-to-be-seen - moved from the background to the foreground. The show became one long glossy luxury goods advertisement, the kind found in Vanity Fair. The movie underlines this - while there are great story lines, etc, the theatrical release is one obscene orgy of consumerism and decadence.
Too bad. The last years of SATC is an insult to both the book and the early years of the show. It is certainly an insult to the public, but - considering SATC was most popular in its later years - maybe the insult is much deserved.
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