Sunday, April 09, 2006

The City without the Sex

I've been catching occasional episodes of the PG-rated Sex and the City on WGN lately. I never got caught up in it as must-see TV, since I don't have HBO and haven't for years. I just can't bring myself to spend that much money on TV. Anyway, I'm finding that the City without the Sex is just fine with me. I don't feel like I'm missing anything. On the whole the show is pretty entertaining, with a few flaws typical of all TV shows: the women are unnaturally thin, they never seem to go to work, they have lifestyles that far outstrip their probable salaries, and they're obsessed with Finding the Right Man. On the other hand, every so often a totally perfect moment occurs, that I love.

To wit: the episode in which Charlotte announces that she is going to quit working. Why? Because she is married, and Trey suggested it. The response from all three friends is unanimously negative, but nuanced.

Carrie keeps looking at her sideways as if she's announced a plan to do something unsavory (purchase a Nigerian child to keep as a maid? Wear shoes from Payless? Something undeniably unacceptable in Manhattan-world). She clearly is appalled but doesn't want to hurt Charlotte's feelings.

The redheaded lawyer looks shocked. Speechless. Can't even spit out what's wrong with it.

And Samantha says that she better be damn sure this is what she wants, because the women who will want her job are "22, perky, and ruthless." Which is true.

Charlotte says it'd be nice to spend more time reading, working for charity, and, ohmigod, taking pottery classes. It's clear that she knows she's being ridiculous, and none of her friends approve but they don't want to be unsupportive. And it's clear it's because her husband wants her to be a pretty pet, not a career woman.

Granted, this is a bourgeois problem to have - how many women have this choice? How many have satisfying lucrative careers? But once they have the career, why give it up to loll around painting coffee mugs? I've never quite grokked Charlotte as a gallerista; she's too sweet and indecisive and immature. Real gallerists have to be aggressive salespeople with strong visions and lots of bank. I think she manages a gallery, which means she's not responsible for the bank, but that means she has to be a badass administrator and people-wrangler. Charlotte doesn't appear to be any of these things. But, in the imaginary world of Sex and the City, it's her job, she's good at it, and she's going to give it up for... what?? Nothing, really. I haven't seen enough of the show to know what happens when she & Trey divorce and she has to support herself again. I hope at some point the difficulty of hopping back on the job market after a break is addressed.

What I loved, though, is the entirely negative response to the notion that a woman would give up a successful, lucrative career for no good reason. Being married to a rich man is not a good reason. And that is why, despite the flaws, I dig Sex and the City. They want to Find Mr. Right but that doesn't mean they would give up everything else once they find him.

Now if only those women would look as if they actually ate the lunches they are eternally lingering over.

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