Since I’ve been reviewing TV shows/books based on representations of females from the perspective of twenty-something female, I thought it would be interesting to talk to a twenty-something male about his perspective on a stereotypically female show. At the risk of seeming repetitive, I chose a show that I’ve already written about so I could compare our viewings and conceptions. The obvious choice seemed to be Sex and the City, if only because it is so well known, and likely that a guy in his twenties has heard of it before.
Enter Josh, a 22-year-old male International Business major at Dickinson. Josh very coolly agreed to watch the first episode of Sex and the City and have a candid convo with me about his impressions of it:
M: Before watching the first episode, how much did you know about Sex and the City?
J: Not much. I thought it was supposed to be kind of like female empowerment – like encouraging women to be independent and stuff. My sister made me watch the first movie with her once, but I had no background about the characters so I didn’t know what was going on. All I can remember is that the movie was so boring. Like, really boring. I think I fell asleep. But, I guess before watching the episode I knew that the show was really popular with women – obviously – and like, don’t girls move to New York and try to be like the women on the show? And compare themselves to them? Kind of crazy.
M: Why crazy?
J: It’s pretty unreasonable. You can’t just move to New York and automatically live this glamorous single life. At least I don’t think you can. Also, obviously no one is like a TV character. That’s stupid.
M: What are your conceptions of the show after watching the first episode? How about the way women are portrayed?
J: It’s sort of nuts. Like, first of all, the show is kind of ridiculous – do these women even work? But, anyway, it makes women seem kind of desperate. On the show they say that they don’t need men, but it’s all they talk about. They’re obsessed. Especially in the beginning of the episode – how it started out with all these dating horror stories – and how the women are supposed to “keep their mouths shut and play by the rules.” That really got me – women telling other women to basically do whatever it takes to find a husband, even if it’s changing their personalities completely and becoming submissive. That surprised me. I thought this show was supposed to be empowering for women!
M: Was there something about the show that particularly resonated with you?
J: Yeah. I hate the way that guys were portrayed. Like “toxic bachelors” and guys lifting weights in the gym acting like they’re too casual and cool for marriage. Oh! And how all the women do is complain that men are so bad and then they complain that men get too sensitive and how it’s terrible when they like poetry. What a double-standard – and confusing! Hey – we’re not all that bad.
I got a few additional insights about Sex and the City from my conversation with Josh – mostly about how men are portrayed on the show (something that I admittedly haven’t thought too much about, other than in general groupings). He’s right – Sex and the City does portray men in a really poor, over-generalized light; they get all of the blame as to why women are single, bitter and unhappy/untrusting/uninterested in commitment. Their representations (at least in the first episode) are inflated as these shady and heartless villains who are out to manipulate the female population for sheer enjoyment. It makes me wonder if women are only able to be accepted as “single and fabulous” on the show because they have a good excuse to be – terrible men.