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Sex and the City

Sex and the City was an American cable television program. The original run of the show was broadcast on HBO from 1998 until 2004, for a total of six seasons.

Set in New York City, the show focused on four women, three in their mid-thirties, and one in her forties. The sitcom had serialized story lines, as well as dramatic elements and tackled socially relevant issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex, multiple partners, promiscuity and often specifically dealing with women in society in the late 1990s, and how changing roles and definitions for women affected the characters.

The show was primarily filmed at New York City's Silvercup Studios and on location in and around Manhattan. Since it ended, the show has been aired in syndication on networks such as TBS, WGN, and many other local stations. However, basic cable outlets edit out certain explicit show content that was broadcast in the original version.

Premise

The show was based in part on writer Candace Bushnell's book of the same name, compiled from her column with the New York Observer. Bushnell has stated in several interviews that the Carrie Bradshaw in her columns is her alter ego; when she wrote the "Sex and the City" essays, she used her own name initially; for privacy reasons, however, she created the character of Carrie Bradshaw, a woman who was also working as a writer and living in New York City. Carrie also has the same initials, which reiterates her connection with Bushnell.

Darren Star, the show's creator, paid $50,000 to Bushnell for complete rights to her columns. The show "bears only a passing resemblance to its source material"; the columns were "darker and more cynical" than the "gentler" series that Star produced. According to Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell, by Amy Sohn, Star wanted to create a show that expressed true adult comedy, sex, in an up-front way.

The narrative of the show focused on Carrie and her three best friends. The women discussed their sexual desires and fantasies, and their travails in life and love. The show often depicted frank discussions about romance and sexuality, particularly in the context of being a single woman in her mid-thirties. Each episode in season one featured a short montage of interviews of people living in New York City regarding topics discussed in that episode. These continue through season two but were then phased out. Another feature that would eventually be scrapped was Carrie breaking the fourth wall (for example, looking into the camera and speaking to the audience directly, also known in older drama as an aside). Bradshaw would question scenarios and ideas, asking the audience for an opinion or insight on different situations. The pilot, however, also had the characters of Miranda and Charlotte as well as a few minor characters speaking directly to the camera/audience. The last such event by Carrie occurs in episode 3 of the second season, "The Freak Show".

The method of expressing inner monologues was shifted exclusively to voiceovers by Carrie in future episodes. Her main narration usually revolved around the premise of that week's "article", where she summed up her thoughts with, "I couldn't help but wonder...". As she says that, her computer monitor is shown while she is typing the text of her voiceover, ending up with the theme of the episode expressed as a question such as, "Are we sluts?" or "Can you really have sex without politics?"

Overview of characters

Main characters

Character Actress Description
Carrie Bradshaw Sarah Jessica Parker She is the narrator of each episode. Each episode is structured around her train of thought while writing her weekly column, "Sex and the City," for the fictitious newspaper The New York Star. A member of the New York glitterati, she is a club/bar/restaurant staple who is known for her unique fashion sense (particularly footwear). This is evident in the episode "The Real Me" in season four, when she is asked by Lynne Cameron (played by Margaret Cho) to be in a New York fashion show. She works on her PowerBook in her apartment, writing newspaper articles focusing on the different aspects of a relationship. In later seasons, her essays are collected as a book and she begins taking assignments from Vogue and New York Magazine. Carrie is house-proud; her one-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment is in an Upper East Side brownstone. Despite several long-term boyfriends, Carrie is entangled with "Mr. Big"(Chris Noth) in a complicated, multifaceted on and off relationship.
Samantha Jones Kim Cattrall She is the oldest and most sexually confident of the foursome. Samantha is an independent businesswoman, with a career in public relations. She is confident, strong, outspoken, and calls herself a "try-sexual" (meaning she'll try anything once). One of Samantha's best qualities is her loyalty to her friends. She believes that she has had "hundreds" of soulmates and requires that her sexual partners leave, "an hour after I climax." During the course of the show it is revealed that Samantha's glamorous, impenetrable facade and dismissive approach to love actually hides a sensitive, caring nature. Samantha has a number of relationships in the show . In Season 6, Samantha's character further develops when she is suddenly diagnosed with cancer when visiting a plastic surgeon for a breast implant consultation. An operation and chemotherapy challenge Samantha, but she beats cancer and it becomes clear the experience has renewed her with a new perspective on life and love with her most permanent and fulfilling relationship yet, with a younger man, model/actor, Smith Jerrod.
Charlotte York Kristin Davis She works in an art gallery and has had a conventional Connecticut upbringing. She is the most conservative and positive of the group, the one who places the most emphasis on emotional love as opposed to lust, and is a true romantic; always searching for her "knight in shining armor." She scoffs at the lewder, more libertine antics of her friends (primarily Samantha), presenting a more traditional attitude about relationships, usually based around "the rules" of love and dating. Despite her conservative outlook, she has been known to make concessions (while married) that even surprise her more sexually liberated girlfriends. Charlotte was a "straight A" student who attended Smith College where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma majoring in Art History with a minor in Finance. During the series, it is also revealed that Charlotte was voted homecoming queen, prom queen, "most popular," student body president, track team captain and was active as a teen model.
Miranda Hobbes Cynthia Nixon She is a career-minded lawyer with extremely cynical views on relationships and men. A Harvard Law School graduate from Philadelphia with two siblings, she is Carrie's best friend, confidante, and voice of reason. In the early seasons, she is portrayed as masculine and borderline misandric, but this image softens over the years, particularly after she becomes pregnant by her on/off boyfriend, Steve Brady, whom she eventually marries. The birth of her son, Brady Hobbes, brings up new issues for her Type A, workaholic personality, but she soon finds a way to balance career, being single and motherhood. Of the four women, she is the first to purchase her own apartment (across the park from Carrie, on the Upper West Side), and later a home in Brooklyn.

Also starring

Character Actor/Actress Duration Description
Mr. Big Chris Noth Seasons 1 - 6 + Movie He is a pseudonym for the charming, attractive, sarcastic, and wealthy love interest for Carrie Bradshaw. He is the reason for many of Carrie's breakdowns as he never seemed ready to fully commit to Carrie. During the course of the series he marries Natasha, who is ten years younger than Carrie. An affair with Carrie destroys Big's marriage and Carrie's relationship with her other major love interest, furniture designer Aidan. In the final episode, Mr. Big realizes that life without Carrie is nothing. He is a big jazz fan and a heavy cigar smoker with plenty of money to burn. His name was not revealed until the end of the series finale.
Steve Brady David Eigenberg Seasons 2 - 6 + Movie He is Miranda's on and off boyfriend throughout the series since he was introduced in the second season. He eventually marries Miranda at the end of Season 6, after they had a child together at the end of Season 4. He is one of the few men on the show meant to counter-balance all the emotionally unstable men encountered throughout the series, as he is a constant and sensitive male character. His alcoholic mother, Mary Brady, played by Anne Meara, is also a prominent recurring character.
Stanford Blatch Willie Garson Seasons 1 - 6 + Movie Often referred to as the show's "Fifth Lady," He is Carrie's best friend outside of the three women. A gay talent agent from an aristocratic family with a sense of style paralleled only by Carrie's, viewers receive the impression that they have a long-standing relationship built within their younger, wilder days in the New York City club and bar scene in the 1980s. He had said that they have been friends since Carrie was riding the subways and wearing Candie's. The only supporting character to receive his own storylines on occasion, Stanford represents the show's most constant gay point of view to sex on the show, generally based around the physical insecurities and inadequacies of someone who does not "have that gay look." In the last two seasons of the show, he is partnered with Broadway dancer Marcus Adente.
Smith Jerrod Jason Lewis Seasons 6 + Movie He is a young waiter Samantha seduces. She tries to maintain her usual sex-only relationship with him, but he slowly pushes for something more. He is a wannabe actor whose career Samantha jump starts using her PR connections (including changing his name to "Smith Jerrod" from "Jerry Jerrod"), getting him a modeling job that turns into a film role. Just when she thinks Smith's age and experiences aren't enough for her, he gives her unconditional support during her fight with breast cancer. In the final episode, Smith flies back from a film set in Canada just to tell her that he loves her, which she counters with "You have meant more to me than any man I've ever known," which, for Samantha, is a far greater statement.
Harry Goldenblatt Evan Handler Seasons 5 - 6 + Movie He is Charlotte's Jewish divorce lawyer who is incredibly attracted to her from the beginning. She is not attracted to him initially, but tries to pursue a sex-only relationship with him, which leads to one of exclusivity and love as opposed to her relationship with Trey, which was reversed in this aspect. After her conversion to Judaism and one big argument that sends them in separate directions for a few weeks, the two marry and begin trying to have/adopt a child. In the end, they are approved for a Chinese adoption and adopt a girl.
Aleksandr Petrovsky Mikhail Baryshnikov Season 6 He was referred to by Carrie occasionally as "The Russian," is a famous artist who becomes Carrie's lover in the final season. He sweeps her off her feet with huge romantic gestures and shows her the foreign pockets of New York that she has never seen before. Her relationship with him brings up all sorts of questions in Carrie's mind about finding love past "a certain age" and whether or not she wants children. When he's preparing to return to Paris for a solo exhibit he invites Carrie to come live with him, which, after several deliberations (and one fight) with her friends, she does. After spending some time there, she realizes that he will never reciprocate the level of emotional involvement that she offers because his life and career will always come first.

Episodes

Season Ep # First Airdate Last Airdate
Season 1 12 June 6, 1998 August 23, 1998
Season 2 18 June 6, 1999 October 3, 1999
Season 3 18 June 4, 2000 October 15, 2000
Season 4 18 June 3, 2001 February 10, 2002
Season 5 8 July 21, 2002 September 8, 2002
Season 6 20 June 22, 2003 February 22, 2004

Sex and the City: The Movie was released nationwide May 30, 2008 and, as of July 5, 2008, has made $393,205,437.

The Sex and the City: The Movie DVD was released on September 23, 2008.

Opening theme

Viewer response and impact

Sex and the City premiered on HBO, June 6, 1998, and was one of the highest-rated sitcoms of the season, and the last original episode aired on February 22, 2004, was one of the most watched series finales.

The show became well known and lauded for its frank dialogue about women and sex. An unlikely supporter of the show is author Orson Scott Card. Card stated that although the crudity of the series left him numb, the show contained some of the best writing on television.

However, the characters have been criticized for being shallow, superficial, and self-absorbed.

Criticism

The series has been criticized by members of the religious right (such as Morality in Media) due to the subject matter of the series revolving around what they consider sexual immorality. The show has also been criticized by anti-consumerists and feminists for the main characters' display of extreme materialism and female stereotypes.

Awards and recognition

Over its course of six seasons, "Sex and the City" was nominated for over 50 Emmy Awards, winning seven times. Among the Emmys the show won were two for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series (Jennifer McNamara), one for its Costumes, a trophy for Outstanding Comedy Series for its third season in 2001 (the first time ever a cable channel wins Outstanding Comedy Series), Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in 2002 for the episode "The Real Me", and for its final season in 2004, Emmys for Sarah Jessica Parker (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the episode "An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux"), and Cynthia Nixon (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the episodes "One" and "Ick Factor"). It has also been nominated for 24 Golden Globe Awards, and won 8. Its wins included Best TV Series — Musical or Comedy, and Best Actress in a TV SeriesMusical or Comedy, (Sarah Jessica Parker) for three consecutive years from 2000 – 2002, Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or Movie for Kim Cattrall, and another one for Parker.

Broadcast and distribution

Season one of Sex and the City aired on HBO from June to August 1998. Season two was broadcast from June until October,1999. Season three aired from June until October 2000. Season four was broadcast in two parts: from June until August 2001, and then in January and February 2002. Season five, truncated due to Parker's pregnancy, aired on HBO during the summer of 2002. The twenty episodes of the final season, season six, aired in two parts: from June until September 2003 and during January and February 2004.

Sex and the City is currently syndicated in the United States by HBO corporate sibling (under Time Warner) Warner Bros. Television Distribution. The international rights to the series currently rest with CBS Television Distribution, the syndication arm of CBS Paramount Television, the successor-in-interest to Paramount's television unit (through its acquisition of original international distributor Rysher Entertainment) now owned by CBS Corporation.

Broadcasters

The United States cable channel HBO was the original broadcaster. TBS and WGN began showing edited reruns of the series. The series then went into international syndication. The Nine Network aired the first run of the show Every Monday Between 9:30 pm and 11:00 pm. After 2004 the Cable Channel W. Channel aired it until summer 2008 when Arena TV started airing it in a block with Will & Grace with promos stating "all the good guys are gay".

Channel 4 originally aired the series in the UK with the first episode shown in early 1999. As of September 2008 a double bill of the show airs each weeknight at 10pm on Paramount Comedy 1, and on Sunday nights on Fiver.

Country Date of Premiere Channel
USA June 6, 1998 - February 22, 2004 2004 - present

HBO
Syndication
TBS
Australia 1999 - June 2004 2005 - 2007
January 2008 - Present

Nine Network
Syndication
W. Channel
Arena

DVD releases

All six seasons of Sex and the City have been released commercially on DVD. They have been released officially on region 1 (Americas), region 2 (Europe & Middle East), region 3 (Korea) and region 4 (Oceania & South America) formats, but illegal bootleg editions have also surfaced for region 3 (Thailand) as well as region 0 (Universal) and can even be found on eBay. In addition to their region encoding, releases vary depending on which region they were released in. Region 2 DVDs of Sex and the City have been criticized by some fans for having little or no special features, but region 1 editions have included director commentary, cast interviews and more.

In addition to standard single season DVD box sets of the show, limited edition collectors' editions have also been released that include all 6 seasons in one complete set. Even these vary between region 1 2 and 4. While Europe got a complete set that came with special 'shoe box' packaging (a reference to Sarah Jessica Parker's character's love for shoes in the show), the USA and Canada version came packaged in a more traditional fold-out suede case and with an additional bonus DVD including many special features. Oceania's edition came packaged in a beauty case.

As well as missing out on some special features, many fans in Europe had trouble with the region 2 edition of the season 1 DVD. Unfortunately, the show was not converted into a PAL video signal, and remained in its original American NTSC format. This caused some compatibility problems with some European television sets and DVD players. All subsequent Region 2 DVD releases of the programme were appropriately transferred to PAL video and season 1 has since been re-released in PAL format. Outside the US, Sex and the City boxed sets were released through Paramount Pictures (whose parent Viacom interestingly once owned HBO's rival Showtime, before the CBS Corporation split at the end of 2005) - who owned at once, certain rights to the programme's broadcast as well – it was probably because of Paramount's "no-extras" policy that the region 2 DVDs were criticized. American and Canadian DVDs were released through the programme's original broadcasters, HBO. In Australia, single editions have been released, where each disc is sold separately. In South Korea, due to the popularity of the show, a complete, six-season, special DVD shoebox set was released—600 limited edition sets in 2005; 850 limited edition sets in 2006—at suggested retail price of $300 (US). All of them sold out immediately.

Selected episodes are also available as part of the Sex and the City Essentials DVD collection. These are four separately-packaged discs containing three selected episodes that fit a common theme.

Soundtrack releases

There have been several CDs released to accompany the series Sex and the City, two of which (the albums from Irma Records) contain tracks used in the show's actual soundtrack.

2000/2001/2002
Sire Records
Includes the main theme from the show, written by Douglas J. Cuomo and features Mark Berman on keyboards

  • Sex and the City - Official Soundtrack (two disc set)

March 1, 2004
Sony TV
36 Hits, including the likes of Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Cyndi Lauper, Jamiroquai and Aretha Franklin, among others.

  • Irma at Sex and the City - Part 1 - Daylight Session (two disc set)

April 19, 2004
Irma Records
Ambient and chilled sounds from the show's soundtrack

  • Irma at Sex and the City - Part 2 - Nightlife Session (two disc set)

April 19, 2004
Irma Records
House and electronica sounds from the show's soundtrack

  • "Electric Martinis"

2003
Released via composer Rob Mounsey's website (http://www.robmounsey.com/)
Compilation of Mounsey's musical cues used on Sex and the City.

Quotations

The following are quotations from the TV special, Sex And The City: A Farewell, that aired introducing the final episode: "An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux"

  • Michael Patrick King, Executive Producer::"People thought, oh it's just about sex or it's just about fashion. And then slowly over the years people start to see it's really about love ... and relationships ... and sex ... and basically the battlefield of trying to be in love—whether it be with another person or with yourself."
  • Sarah Jessica Parker::"What the show has to have, and has had to have in order to survive six years, is a soul... if the show was a heart and you split the heart in two, one half would be the four women, and the other would be Carrie, alone, and her life in the city with her friends."
  • Cynthia Nixon::"These women would never wear the same outfit twice."
  • David Eigenberg::"They were honest about sex, they were honest about the humor of sex."'''
  • Kim Cattrall::"The show is a valentine to being single. ... Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you; now it means you're pretty sexy and you're taking your time deciding how you want your life to be...and who you want to spend it with."

Film

A feature film based on Sex and the City, written and produced by Michael Patrick King, has been produced. The film originally was slated for production near the end of the broadcast series run in 2004, but the movie deal fell through at that time. Multiple press reports at the time indicated a personal dispute between Parker and Cattrall, as well as Cattrall's refusal to sign a contract for the film at a pay scale considerably less than Parker's.

Michael Patrick King wrote and directed, and the four lead actresses returned to reprise their roles, and Chris North signed to reprise his role as "Mr. Big." In addition, Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson appears in the film as Carrie's assistant. New Line Cinema will be distributing the film, and New Line president of production Toby Emmerich, Richard Brenner and Kathy Busby are overseeing the project. Parker and John Melfi are producing. Filming started on September 19, 2007 in New York City.

The plot of the film revolves around the lives of the four main characters, four years after the time frame of the finale of the HBO series.

Evan Handler, David Eigenberg, Jason Lewis, and Willie Garson reprise their roles.

Filming of the Sex and the City movie was completed early December 2007.

The film's world premiere was in London's Leicester Square in early May 2008. The film was released on May 28, 2008 in the U.K. and was released May 30, 2008 in the U.S. with an unprecedented $55.7 million three-day gross. The debut made Sex and the City the top-opening R-rated romantic comedy of all time.

Pop culture references

  • MADtv parodied the show as Sluts and the City. The HBO slogan "It's not TV, it's HBO" became "It's not TV, it's porn (with Emmys)." MADtv's Michael McDonald appears as Carrie in drag with a visible crotch bulge. Nicole Sullivan, Mo Collins, and Alex Borstein also appeared in the sketch.
  • Jennifer Aniston portrayed Carrie on Saturday Night Live with a fake nose. Other sketch shows have made fun of Miranda being color blind for her bright hair dye color, Samantha (played by Christina Aguilera) coming out as a transexual, and the women confusing sex with shoes.
  • In Charmed, Paige wonders if one of the women in Sex and the City slept around a lot, to which Phoebe suggests she was a free spirit. At the time, Jason Lewis (who played "Smith Jerrod", one of Samantha's loves in later episodes) was a new cast member on Charmed.
  • Sex and the City brought to the greater public eye the now wildly popular cosmopolitan, originally known as a pink Kamikaze.
  • In the movie In Her Shoes, there was a scene in the old folks' home when they were watching TV and you could hear Carrie narrating. The old folks were also drinking Cosmopolitans, a homage to the TV programme.
  • In the TV series "Alistair McGowan's Big Impression", the show was parodied as "Sex and Man City", focusing on the love life of the oblivious former England football team manager Kevin Keegan and his issues with new manager Sven Göran Eriksson
  • On The Simpsons, the show was parodied as "Nookie in New York". Marge's sister described it as "a show about four straight women who act like gay men".
  • The TBS sitcom My Boys, Season One, Episode 19, "Douchebag in the City", parodied the four female lead characters of Sex and the City by having the former editor of female main character PJ Franklin coming to Chicago to visit. The friend/editor displays very overt characteristics of what one would presume would be an attempt by a New Yorker to emulate Carrie Bradshaw, down to having cultivated friendships with three caricatures of Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, whom she brought along to Chicago. The point of the comparison is best nailed home when a passing bus splashes water on her and she turns around shocked, in slow motion, as in SATC's opening credits.
  • Logo's original series Noah's Arc is sometimes referred to as being the gay version of Sex and the City.
  • The song "'03 Bonnie & Clyde", on Beyoncé's album Dangerously in Love and Jay-Z's album The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse, includes lyrics about Beyoncé from Jay-Z. He states that " The only time we don't speak is during Sex and the City. She gets Carrie fever, but soon as the show is over she's right back to being my soldier."
  • The video to the song "Girl" by Destiny's Child is an homage to Sex and the City with Beyoncé typing some of the lyrics out on a laptop a la Carrie and Beyoncé and Michelle Williams comforting Kelly Rowland after she walks out on her cheating man.
  • Carrie Bradshaw's love for shoes made shoe designer Manolo Blahnik a household name.
  • On Will and Grace, the season 6 episode "No Sex 'n' the City" includes a scene of Karen and Jack talking about the Sex and the City finale. Karen declares, "Honey, I am so glad that Carrie ended up with Mr. Big instead of that 70-year old ballerina!" Jack admits he was "crying like a little girl" at the ending.
  • On Family Guy, the show was mentioned in the Stewie Griffin Movie, with Chris being tortured by Lois because he cannot remember the four Sex and the City women's names.
  • On Family Guy the show is mentioned in an episode where Brian is attempting to get a petition signed to stop a ban on gay marriage. Brian states that to get signatures he did "some things in West Quahog [he's] not proud of" and the screen flashes to him, presumably watching the beginning of Sex and the City with two gay men, upon which he states "So it's a show about three hookers and their mom?" (Part of a running gag about Kim Cattrall being old.)
  • On Family Guy there is a brief scene where Kim Cattrall as Samantha is about to go to bed with another man, when her leg creaks. She uses an oil can to lubricate her leg, then invites the man to jump on top of her. When he does, she shatters. (Part of a running gag about Kim Cattrall being old)
  • The tagline of Showtime series The L Word; 'Same sex. different city', parodies the shows title.
  • The magazine Time Out New York recently released a cover mocking the overmilking of "Sex and the City" and the lack of reasons for creating a movie, by showing the four main characters of the series being gagged, along with an accompanying article about why many New Yorkers are sick of the show.
  • In one of the interviews of Sasha Cohen last Winter Olympics 2006, asking her what she did to relax and calm herself before her Ice Skating Event competition, she answered she watches DVDs of "Sex and the City".
  • Entertainment Weekly has named the show #5 on its list of the best shows in the past 25 years. It also named Sarah Jessica Parker's outfit in the opening credits of the show #2 on its list of the top 50 Pop Culture Moments that rocked Fashion. It has also named the theme song #8 on its list of the top 25 TV show theme songs in the past 25 years.
  • In the episode "Bachelor Party" of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother Robin buys Lilly a vibrator as a present for her bridal shower. When Lilly's grandmother sees it she instantly recognises it as the one that Miranda gave to Charlotte and then all the guests in the bridal shower say how much they like the show and which one of the characters is most like them, with Lilly's mother saying to the grandmother that she's such a Samantha
  • In 2004, the popularity of Tasti D-Lite frozen dessert was bolstered as a result of appearances in episodes of Sex and the City, Season 6, Episode 88.
  • In the song "Dangerous" by Akon, Kardinal Offishal raps "Bad heels like Jessica P... I'm tring give homegirl sex in the city-tittie"

References

External links

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