A critic changes his mind about Sex
Pete Schulberg/On Television
As we all know, professional TV critics are never wrong. But I was. Once. Long ago.
Well, maybe not that long ago. More like five years ago.
When I first laid eyes on Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha and the rest of the 'Sex and the City' team, my first reaction was that if this was the best series that HBO had to offer, then get me the phone so I could cancel my cable.
Never Ñ or so I thought at the time Ñ had I seen a more pretentious, overdone premise: the lives and adventures of four single, stylin' women in Manhattan, complete with narration by one of them Ñ a newspaper columnist, of all pitiful things. And in its first year, the series was one of those entries where you couldn't determine what it was trying to be: Was this a comedy or something that was supposed to be more serious?
Besides, it was a clearly a women's show Ñ though one with enough sexual references to make even 'The Man Show' cast blush.
But as luck would have it, almost every woman I knew who subscribed to HBO told me to give it another shot. This was, after all, HBO's 'Ally McBeal,' though without the dancing baby and neurotic lawyers. And given the undoubted attraction of words never heard before on a prime-time series Ñ not to mention a lot more sex themes (and scenes) Ñ and there seemed to be reason to reconsider.
Now that I'm wholeheartedly sold, 'Sex and the City' is going away. Its sixth and final season begins Sunday. The first 12 episodes will appear this summer, with the remaining eight starting next January.
There's been a lot of chatter about how the past year's episodes didn't live up to previous seasons. I don't buy it, but that might be because I joined the party so late.
I've come to like and admire these women. Maybe it's because in total, they seem to make up the psyche of the modern American female. There's Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the writer, observer and narrator, who every other member of the group believes is her best friend; Charlotte (Kristin Davis), the girl who probably dreamed about getting married when she was 2; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the analytical, rational lawyer and also a single mother; and Samantha (Kim Cattrall), as sexual as she is domineering.
'Sex and the City' isn't about sex and it isn't about New York City. It's about the bond of true unadulterated (OK, there's been some adultery over the years) friendship. And somehow, the questions that Carrie always poses as a basis for the individual episodes often go unanswered. Even so, the journey is worth the experience.
While HBO is characteristically hush-hush about the concluding plotlines, I'm guessing it's going to be another breakout season. And this time, I'm there.