"Sex and the City: The Complete First Season"

Two discs revisit the early days of the HBO hit series, when Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda were still saucy and shocking.



Suzy Hansen
September 18, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)

"Sex and the City: The Complete First Season" (1998)
Created and produced by Darren Star
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon
HBO Studios; full screen (1.33:1 aspect ratio)
Extras: Making-of featurette, list of awards and nominations, TV promo

At this point, "Sex and the City" is sort of old news. Its premise, that there are actually some women in their 30s who don't get married and do manage to have a lot of sex, is no longer shocking (even to my 50-something parents watching from Sunset Beach, N.C.). Still, Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda made the cover of Time a few weeks ago, accompanied by an article proving that women like the Manhattan foursome really do exist. Sure they do. But they probably don't all have fabulous Upper East Side apartments, own 50 pairs of $400 shoes or dine and drink, every single damn day, at overpriced, exhaustingly trendy restaurants. One hopes their lives haven't devolved into what the latest "Sex and the City" episodes have revealed, either: Carrie's cheating on her adorable, loving boyfriend with that terminal screwup, Mr. Big; Charlotte's reducing love and marriage to china patterns and prenups (for a souless Kyle MacLachlan); and Samantha, hunched over, sick and crying, is blubbering on that she'll be alone for the rest of her life. (She never cared until she didn't have a man to bring her cough syrup.)

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The first 12 episodes, however, the fresh and daring ones, are all featured on this two-disc DVD edition. There's also a sprinkling of interviews with the likable stars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, and with the show's creator, Darren Star. Besides the cast credits and a list of the awards the show has won, there's no further insight into its conceptualization. But the DVD is certainly worth watching if only to understand what has so many women loyally glued to the television on Sunday nights.

You might have heard about these episodes: the farting episode, the 20-something-guy episode, the episodes detailing Carrie's first, sweet encounters with Mr. Big, when she's strong and saucy and it looks as if it's completely possible that it's all going to work out. After all, Carrie and her friends do want to fall in love and be loved, even if it's fun to think that they'd rather be alone, sipping cosmopolitans with their girlfriends or talking about their last lay over eggs Benedict.

Ultimately, the outrageous thing about "Sex and the City" -- why it might be hard or distasteful for some women to relate to and a rollicking good time for others to fantasize about -- is Star's strange underworld of Manhattan, where you're required to worship WASP-ishly on Park Avenue, hold in your gas (and your stomach) around the man you share your bed with and substitute honest conversation with machine-gun-style, sexually suggestive quips. "New York is as important a character as anyone else on the show," Parker explains in the featurette. Though Star's version of Gotham might make for witty, entertaining, ballsy television, it sure makes finding love seem that much harder.

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Suzy Hansen

Suzy Hansen, a former editor at Salon, is an editor at the New York Observer.

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