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Jewish World Review June 14, 2000/ 11 Sivan, 5760

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female -- THE HBO TELEVISION SERIES Sex and the City is vulgar. There has not been this much decadence in the public eye since the release of the Starr report. Sarah Jessica Parker has come a long way since her days as Annie. Who knew the little orphan's Tomorrow would involve earnest discussions of herpes? Nonetheless, Ms. Parker, star and "executive consultant" for the show, has a hit on her hands.

This HBO series receives praise even from the likes of the Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz. Why do conservative minds fail to resist the Ramsey Lewis Trio temptation to be with the "in" crowd? The draw of being hip causes them to issue dribble as Ms. Rabinowitz did in her review last week. Ms. Rabinowitz, who broke the Juanita Brodderick/Clinton rape story with sufficient moral outrage that NBC was shamed into running its dusty-from-the-shelf interview, finds Sex and the City well written and possessed of Mary Tyler Moore Show charm.

Discussions about crabs, size of penises, and bed-hopping are not as sprightly as the "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode on MTM wherein the TV station's clown, dressed as a peanut, was shelled to death by an elephant during a circus parade. Melrose Place looks like the Love Boat next to this show. "Sluts in Stilettos" would have been a better name for this silly series. The four shameless women characters discuss, employing the language of longshoremen, their latest sexually transmitted diseases as if they are as natural as a Nyquil-cured cold.

The show's depravity is exceeded only by its shallowness. These women never quite made it past high school --- all the emotion with about the same level of commitment and insight. They are cheerleaders with good incomes and designer clothes. Parker's character's voice mail message plays, "Hi, I'm shopping for shoes. Leave a message." And shop she does for the next scene shows her in sandals and rolled-up jeans busily chain-smoking and exclaiming that her new $300 shoes are ruined because she has stepped in "horse____." Ah, the eloquence of HBO writers. Jezebel at least had a vocabulary. Yet every review praises the show's contribution to culture. USA Weekend gushed, "Sex and the City -- back for its third season on HBO -- will continue to make great TV out of the American woman's most intimate desires." And those desires would be for VD?

The series ridicules those who commit to marriage, family life, or even knowing someone's name before jumping in the sack with them. Leaving a baby shower the four women mock the idea of motherhood. Conservatives should do to Sarah Jessica Parker what gays and lesbians do to Dr. Laura. Complain bitterly about the hatred for and intolerance of family life and abstinence this show engenders. Demand that Sarah Jessica tone it down!


Conservatives will ignore the show. They should not. Setting aside the language and Sarah Jessica Parker's too-tight and too-short clothes, the show serves conservatives well. Its success and fawning reviews offer insight once again into Hollywood morals. These women are hailed as strong, independent moderns experiencing full lives as singles. Critics and Hollywood see Sex and the City as a personal testament to single women leading happy and fulfilling lives.

The portrayal and show backfire. Obsessed with their bodies, the characters do flash, among other things, recognitions of the biological, cellulite and droop clocks as they one-night-stand their ways through their 30s. The pickings for the derring duo times two are getting slim even as the men who intrigue them choose twentysomethings over four liberated hags navigating New York's rancid single scene.

The show is a weekly reminder of the cruel and unusual sentence of the women's movement to its own. The Sex and the City gals are four miserable broads. They shed tears for their departed men and can't figure out why men love 'em and leave 'em. It's the old wives' wisdom that the show mocks, "If you can get the milk for free, why buy the cow?" These four pitiful tarts, who have been ridden more than Man 'O War and have the pelvic disease to prove it, may be the best ammo a parent could have for abstinence. This show about four sloppy left-overs proves only that single career "gals" don't have glamour lives; they are left to prowl for companionship found only in bed and with strangers.

Examine the lives of the women of Sex and the City. Take a look at the emptiness and debauchery and your life with broken sprinkler heads, sticky floors and cracking stucco will look gratifying. There will be spring in your car pool stints. A potato exploding in your oven will be a delight. You'll treasure those 3 AM moments with teething babies. You'll cherish science projects and thank the heavens above for the privilege of stretch marks that mean you've seen your last midriff top. You may be living an unexamined life in $29 Keds, but it's a life worth living --- a conclusion you will come to after just one episode of Sex and the City.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings