[Read Heather Havrilesky's "I Like to Watch" column about the "Sex and the City" finale.]
Last night, girlfriends all over the city hovered together to watch the final episode of "Sex and the City," HBO's groundbreaking television drama about the (sex) lives of four single women in Manhattan, waiting in anticipation for the concluding show that would at last put an end to the "happily ever after" myths that women been fed for eons.
Surprise, surprise. We were fed a happily-ever-after story. Six years of great irreverent writing, depicting competent, strong women, enjoying their lives and the sex that accompanies it, were erased in 40 minutes when all four of the show's central characters land the men of their dreams, two wind up with perfect babies, and the one insatiably horny character, devoted to great casual sex, suddenly finds that sex without love is meaningless. Even my savory Chinese noodles were hard to swallow after that.
My abhorrence for the show's ending went way beyond television. It reminded me of the sad fact that women still have to apologize for their power -- to men, to society, but most of all, to themselves. "Sex and the City" has a bevy of female writers. This was no last-minute attempt by a male-dominated media to "feminize" women. This was about women still succumbing to myths that bind and strangle, the ones that tell us that it's not possible to be complete without a man, a kid, a great wardrobe or a great body. As a single woman of 43 with none of the above attributes, I hope to God they're wrong. I yearn for a personal story line in which I find contentment with or without a partner, in which I can give birth to a project or a friendship or a piece of writing that provides meaning to myself and those around me, despite the lack of kids running around my living room.
Recognizing our own worth, whether someone wants to marry us or not, and enjoying the effectiveness that comes as a result of that, is real power, an idea whose time will arrive on TV only after it appears, first, in us.
-- Lisa Lipkin
As a Midwesterner who has relocated to South Carolina, I've long been accustomed to, and even delighted in, the New Yorker worldview of the Manhattanites portrayed on "Sex and the City." However, for a show with such broad and long-term support, I hoped that its writers and producers would have demonstrated more sensitivity in their portrayal of the couple from Charlotte, N.C., from whom Charlotte and Harry hoped to adopt a baby. Charlotte is a racially diverse city of 540,000. Its median income is over $46,000, 36 percent hold B.A.'s, and 32 percent are single, as anyone with Internet access and 90 free seconds can discover. Its economy is the fastest-growing in the nation. Regardless of statistics, it is unfair and offensive for SITC's New York-based producers to suggest that one's average delegate from the American South has little to no grasp of grammar, will not try lox (once it's been confirmed that it is in fact fish), and, worst of all, is manipulative and immoral to the point that they would scam a free tour of NYC from a couple who dreams of having a child.
Had Charlotte and Harry been in negotiation with an African-American couple from the south side of Chicago or with Mexican nationals from Brownsville, Texas, the writers and actors would most likely never have dreamed of stereotyping and exploiting their characters in this way.
I am upset for mostly selfish reasons, as I do not expect a show that has always maintained a delightful aloofness from such social issues to account for them in its crucial last episode. I am disappointed because, falling asleep last night and musing over an episode that I otherwise enjoyed thoroughly, I was not thinking of Miranda and Steve's mother, of Samantha's fantastic nude scene, or about Big's real name, but about that scene in Charlotte's Fifth Avenue apartment that most likely offended and alienated a massive segment of "Sex and the City's" audience.
-- Kim McCord
[Read "Let Us Now Praise Charlotte York Goldenblatt," by Stephanie Zacharek.]
I was pleased to read Stephanie Zacharek's article on Charlotte York. Though initially she was rather drippy, I agree that she has become the most interesting character on the show. Kristin Davis is an incredibly gifted comic actress, and though Charlotte is written as the conventional one, Davis manages to inject a certain brainy sexiness into the often naive way the character is written. Furthermore, "conventional" no longer really applies to her, since all of the other actresses on the show, regardless of their talent, have their characters down to the point of shtick, and therefore everything they do seems expected. Charlotte is the only character left whose choices have the ability to surprise or delight the audience. And while her love of Elizabeth Taylor may be retrograde, the episode in which she gathered herself by piling her hair into a towering updo and putting on sunglasses together after watching a biography of Elizabeth Taylor perfectly tapped what is likable about Charlotte. It was silly and obvious, but also charming and affecting, without seeming affected.
-- Richard Allen
Everybody can have their favorite "Sex in the City" gal, but let's not delude ourselves into believing that any one of them defies labels. Carrie's the wit, Miranda's the brain, Samantha's the bad one, and Charlotte is the goody-two-shoes, the priss, the WASP (though, that usage is a little loaded), etc. I can understand where it might be fun, especially at such an emotional moment for the show, to exalt one of the characters/actresses to heights beyond reason -- but, c'mon, Smith Jarrod (Jason Lewis) is the real surprise of the show! That kid can act, and the character's got way more depth than anyone expected -- and he's hotter than the four girls put together, and I'm a straight guy. And what about Steve and Big -- the guys on that show are the only ones who don't get to me with their over-the-top N.Y. fabulousness. Go, Team Penis!
-- Ethan McNack
Thank you for your great review of "Sex and the City's" Kristin Davis. She reminds me of a great character actor -- so skillful that you don't notice the craft, instead seeing only the character that is being embodied.
Your article also alluded to one of the most positive story developments in the last several seasons -- the male counterparts that have entered Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha's lives. Harry, Steve and Smith Jerrod are written and acted with such depth and nuance that the viewer aspires to live up to the honesty that is portrayed.
In early seasons, "Sex and the City" was more about the unusual, out-of-the-ordinary, "car crash" stories that every person encounters at least once in their dating lives. Thankfully, as the series has developed, both the ladies and the men have matured into relationships as real as what we imagine our own lives could be.
-- Nathan Johnson
Your article made me laugh. Charlotte is the least interesting of the SITC women. Her entire focus these days is on having a baby. It's gotten boring, as has her perky persona. If you notice, she doesn't walk, she practically hops all over.
She enjoys sex? If that's the case, how come she didn't notice that hubby No. 1 couldn't do the deed before the marriage?
I would agree with the author's assessment of Davis' character in "Sex and the City." In fact it would have been far more interesting for Blair Underwood's character to have hooked up with Charlotte than Miranda.
It seems the writers and/or producers took the safe way out by playing to the most enduring stereotypes in interracial romance: the overachieving, devastatingly handsome black man and the milquetoast white slut. The inference being of course that any ol' white girl would do because she is, after all, white. Were we really to believe that a doctor of his (Underwood's) character could not have done better in all of New York?
Alas, we are left only to imagine Charlotte making an interesting leap to a man meeting all her stringent prerequisites albeit in a slightly darker package. Pity.
-- Craig Lanier Allen
Ms. Zacharek implies too much that the men who prefer Charlotte (probably most of us) are somehow not progressive, wary of being "challenged" by assertive, intelligent, modern women. I'm afraid it's more visceral than that. Miranda is too cold, Samantha is too slutty, and Carrie is just annoying. In any case, when a woman is said to be "threatening," it's probably due less to anti-feminist sentiment than to the simple fact that some qualities are not attractive in women.
-- Marcus Karr