Past Prime

‘Sex and the City'

I loved the HBO series Sex and the City, and never thought it belonged to the entertainment ghetto that the phrases “chick flick” and “chick lit” imply. The show explored the same social and emotional territory that Balzac covered in his novels about Rastignac and other young men from the provinces who come to the Big City and fling down the gauntlet of their ambition, daring Paris to deny them its riches and romance and sensual savors. But now the city is New York, the protagonists are female, and Rastignac is Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), aided and abetted by her “posse”: Samantha the publicist (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte the curator (Kristin Davis), and Miranda the lawyer (Cynthia Nixon). What was good for the gander...

Sex wasn’t just hip and funny but often acute in its skewering of modern attitudes and self-deceptions: newly married couples labeling single young women immature when they really regard them as dangerous; the head of a law firm not only greeting a junior colleague’s putative lesbianism with delight but also playing matchmaker on her behalf so that his trendy wife can include one (but only one) gay couple in her dinner parties; an elderly, autocratic housekeeper at first tolerating her wealthy and equally elderly employer bedding a young woman but then flinging the intruder out into the night when the girl proves too squeamish to embrace the boss’s sagging body. And in the...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.