TV Eye

The drought is over

Sarah Jessica Parker in <i>Sex and the City</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City

Finally, the first glimmer of relief from the assault of summer reality series, low-budget talent shows, and Candid Camera rip-offs. Sex and the City returns for a new season on Sunday, July 21.

I've always been a fan of the show, even when Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie was unlikable as she made all the wrong moves with the men in her life. When Charlotte (Kristin Davis) dove headfirst in front of that emotional freight train in order to walk down the aisle, I shook my head in dismay. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) as someone's mother? Beyond my comprehension. And Samantha (Kim Cattrall), that throwback to the Seventies when sex was free and all you had to worry about was herpes, has a special place in my heart. Although I find her antics unfathomable, I still smile when I remember her a few seasons back, naked, ecstatic, and prostrate across the front of a fire engine while a burly fireman fulfilled her sexual fantasy. The cherry on the cake was the naked fireman (shown from behind) wearing his hard hat. His hard hat, I tell you! Perhaps I've revealed too much.

Like most HBO series, the performances and the writing in Sex and the City are smart and enormously entertaining. But I gained a new appreciation for the show when I got yet another press release about a new reality series, this one on the Women's Entertainment Network (WE), called Single in the City. The show is described as a cross between The Real World and Sex and the City. I haven't seen the show, but already I hate it. Get a load of this description from the show's press materials:

"Last summer during the height of dating season, cameras followed seven singles on first dates, blind dates, wild dates and complete duds. ... Four women, appropriately dubbed 'The Barracudas,' bring new meaning to girl talk by sharing intimate and shocking tales of bad boyfriends, sexual exploits and dangerous flirting over brunch and cocktails."

What, no competing for men in the wilds of New York? At least there are cocktails.

Watching reruns of Sex and the City as it nears the launch of its fifth season helped me put my finger on why I find the recent spate of shows featuring single women-on-the-make (Single in the City, Looking for Love: Bachelorettes in Alaska) so annoying. First, the idea of women fighting over men is a depressingly archaic notion. Surely, there are women (and men) who always seem to set up even their most casual encounters as competitions. But the idea of women fighting over men under the guise of looking for romantic love (don't get me started on that) is baffling. Look at the profiles of some of the women on Single in the City: Lauren, an attorney-turned-singer. Penny, a public relations executive. Wendy, a magazine editor.

The days when women sought a husband to provide for her is so 18th-century. Are modern women that emotionally vacant without a man that they would resort to getting one under any means necessary?

Second, setting up "women's talk" as transgressive, particularly when it comes to sex, is another notion that I thought went out with witch-hunts and leeching. Curiously, as a work of fiction, Sex and the City does a more honest job of presenting "woman talk" (albeit from a very specific social strata) in all its candor. And while these smart characters may make dumb choices (making for better television), it's not as aggravating as presumably smart women playing dumb for the camera in so-called real life.

What would Carrie do? I think she'd turn off this crap and gather with her friends to watch the premiere of Sex and the City's fifth season. I know that's what I'm going to do.

New episodes of Sex and the City air Sundays, 8pm, on HBO. Encores occur throughout the week. Check local listings.

Single in the City airs Sundays, 9pm, on WE.

William Shatner Alert!

William Shatner returns to TV as host of William Shatner's Full Moon Fright Night, featuring the best of the worst horror movies. Shatner introduces the movies, interviews "special guests," and re-enacts choice scenes from the evening's featured film. Gee, he didn't do that on Rescue 911. William Shatner's Full Moon Fright premieres Friday, 10pm, on the Sci-Fi Network.

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