Now you can achieve multiple viewings of the best Sex on TV. Winner of Golden Globes for Best TV Series and Best Actress, Sex and the City is based on Candace Bushnell's provocative bestselling book. Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Carrie Bradshaw, a self-described "sexual anthropologist," who writes "Sex and the City," a newspaper column that chronicles the state of sexual affairs of Manhattanites in this "age of un-innocence." Her "posse," including nice girl Charlotte (Kristin Davis), hard-edged Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and party girl Samantha (Kim Cattrall)--not to mention her own tumultuous love life--gives Carrie plenty of column fodder. Over the course of the first season's 12 episodes, the most prominent dramatic arc concerns Carrie, who goes from turning the tables on "toxic bachelors" by having "sex like a man" to wanting to join the ranks of "the monogamists" with the elusive Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Meanwhile, Miranda, Cynthia, and Samantha have their own dating woes, few of which can be described on a family Web site. Seinfeld has nothing on Sex and the City when it comes to shallow, self-absorbed characters or coining catch phrases. Episode 2, for example, introduces the term "modelizer": a guy who is obsessed with and will only date models. Some may accuse this series of male bashing. But women, after years of enduring shows with "men behaving badly," will relish the equal time. Some may blanch at the ladies' graphic language and ribald humor, or dismiss some of the situations as unrealistic (Carrie doesn't bat an eye when she discovers that an artist friend surreptitiously videotapes his sexual conquests). Still others will view Sex and the City as documentary. Regardless of your view, this groundbreaking series will have you longing for more. --Donald Liebenson
A smart and savvy (albeit highly stylized) look at the single lives of four thirtysomething Manhattan women, Sex and the City: The Complete Second Season builds on the foundation of its first season with plot arcs that are both hilarious and heartfelt, taking the show from breakout hit to true pop-culture phenomenon. Relationship epiphanies coexist happily alongside farcical plots and zingy one-liners, resulting in emotionally satisfying episodes that feature the sharp kind of character-defining dialogue that seems to have disappeared from the rest of TV long ago. When last we left the NYC gals, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) had just broken up with a commitment-phobic Mr. Big (Chris Noth), but fans of Noth's seductive-yet-distant rake didn't have to wait long until he was back in the picture, as he and Carrie tried to make another go of it. Their relationship evolution, from reunion to second breakup, provides the core of the second season. The fittingly titled and keenly observed episode "Evolution" found Carrie trying to leave a few feminine belongings at Mr. Big's apartment with little success, charting the challenges and limits of intimacy. And the season's finale, "Ex and the City," was a melancholy goodbye for Carrie and Big that took its cue from The Way We Were. It wasn't all angst, though: among other adventures, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) puzzles over whether one of her beaus was "gay-straight" or "straight-gay"; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) tries to date a guy who insists on having sex only in places where they might get caught; and Samantha (the exquisite Kim Cattrall) copes with dates who range from, um, not big enough to far too big--with numerous stops in between. Through it all, the four actresses cohered into a solid ensemble that played on their complex relationships among themselves as well as with men; in two short years, Parker and company became one of the best TV casts in over a decade. And to top it all off, the second season offers 18 episodes, six more than the first. Sometimes size really can make a difference! --Mark Englehart
The third season was the charm for one of HBO's gold standard series, which earned its first Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series to go along with its Golden Globes for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress (Sarah Jessica Parker). The writing is as sharp as ever, with more trendy product placement than a Bret Easton Ellis novel and ribald banter that's a cross between the Algonquin Round Table and the Friars Club. One of this season's two principal story arcs concerned hapless-in-love Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and her pursuit of a husband; enter (if only...) Kyle McLachlan as the unfortunately impotent Trey. Meanwhile, sex columnist Carrie has a brief but memorable fling with a politician who’s golden, but not in the way she anticipated. She then sabotages her too-good-to-be-true relationship with furniture designer Aidan (John Corbett) by having an affair with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who himself has gotten married.
"Do we need drama to make a relationship work?" Carrie muses at one point. Sex and the City needs drama to make it work, and Parker and Cynthia Nixon (as career woman Miranda), this ensemble's better half, give the show its pulsating heart as they wrestle with commitment and, in the episode "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," sadder-but-wiser breakups. On the lighter side, the sexual dalliances of "rude and politically incorrect" Samantha (Kim Cattrall) provide great fodder for comedy. Like I Love Lucy, the series benefited from a brief change of scenery with a three-episode jaunt to Los Angeles, where Carrie and company encountered, among others, Matthew McConaughey, Vince Vaughn, Hugh Hefner, and Sarah Michelle Gellar. At its best, to quote one character, Sex and the City is "sharp, edgy, brutal at times, always a little juicy." It may be "very New York," but the sex and relationship issues it tackles are universal. For its devoted fans, the release of this 18-episode, three-disc set is, to quote Gellar's clueless Hollywood junior development exec, "chick flick big." --Donald LiebensonSeason Four
The fourth season of Sex and the City is just as smart and sexy as ever, mixing caustic adult wit and sharply observed situation comedy on the mean streets of Manhattan, though this time the quartet of singleton city girls must endure even tougher combat in the unending war of love, sex, and shopping. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) finally seems to have found her ideal life partner when she is reunited with handsome craftsman Aidan (John Corbett). But can their relationship survive trial by cohabitation? Meanwhile Charlotte (Kristin Davis) seems to have both her dream Park Avenue apartment and a solution to her marital problems with Trey (Kyle MacLachlan). But when the subject of babies comes up, everything starts to unravel for her, too. It's not just Charlotte who has baby issues either: after what seems like an eternity of enforced sexual abstinence Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is horrified to discover she's pregnant. And as for the sultry Samantha (Kim Cattrall), she's on a quest for monogamy, first with an exotic lesbian artist, then with a philandering businessman, with whom to her utter dismay she just might have fallen in love. --Mark Walker
It was a short but sweet fifth season for Sex and the City, as HBO's resident comediennes found themselves affected by forces beyond their control--the pregnancies of both Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie) and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda). A truncated shooting schedule to accommodate the actresses forced this season to be reduced to a mere eight episodes, and indeed, you can tell both actresses are expecting. (Carrie's wardrobe became more outlandish and more concealing than usual.) Still, the actresses and creators forged ahead, creating a handful of episodes that if short in content were long on emotion and laughs. Whereas the fourth season found all four grappling with various relationships, the fifth season focused on the perils of being single, with a new intensity lacking in the previous sexcapades. Carrie and Miranda wrestled with their solitary lifestyles, albeit with new attachments--Miranda had new baby Brady and single motherhood, while Carrie found herself in the world of publishing as the author of a real-life book of her columns. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) wondered if she'd ever find another man, while Samantha (Kim Cattrall) finally got rid of the one that had been vexing her far too much, hotelier Richard (James Remar). If the season as a whole felt less than the sum of its parts, those parts were some of the best comedy in the show's history, from Samantha's anointment as the "Michiko Kakutani of vibrators" to Carrie's stressful, one-degree-from-fiasco book launch party. (And fear not, Chris Noth's Mr. Big does pop up now and again.) The season's climactic episode, "I Love a Charade," found all four at the straight wedding of a seemingly gay pal (Nathan Lane) and contemplating their future with a wry, bemused tone. It was one of the series' best episodes ever, equally touching and funny, and grounded the show in an emotional maturity that announced that after all their wild travails, these women had truly grown up. --Mark Englehart
Season Six, Part I
After a long wait--like the entire fifth season--Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is dating again. The sixth season of the popular HBO show starts with Carrie and her sparkly new potential, Berger (Ron Livingston), trying to leave past relationships and hit it off. The results are mixed (up to Berger's memorable exit), but the good news is Carrie is at it again, and a new love interest can be found in the member of a wedding party, an old high school flame (David Duchovny), or an über-famous painter (Mikhail Baryshnikov). As Carrie plays the field, her friends seem to be settling down, relatively speaking. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) decides that her affair with TiVo cannot compete when Mr. Perfect (Blair Underwood, at his most charming) moves into her building. Charlotte's (Kristin Davis) feelings for her "opposites attract" boyfriend (Evan Handler, perhaps fans' most-loved boyfriend) deepen, but they still have a few things to iron out. Most surprising is Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) hot relationship with waiter-actor-stud Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis) taking on something resembling love, despite Samantha's best intentions.
Before the sixth season started in the summer of 2003, a bombshell hit: it was announced that this would be the finale. Fans, just getting over the truncated fifth season (due to half the cast getting pregnant), were beside themselves. But it would be a long season, and these 12 episodes plant the seeds for the final 8 airing the following winter. These dozen episodes illustrate the maturity of the show: there's not a bad one in the bunch, with things like old flames Mr. Big (Chris Noth), and Steve (David Eigenberg) popping in with deeper resiliency. And the show is still flat-out funny. Berger is the most intrinsically humorous of Carrie's beaus (his introduction to Prada is a classic), Jarrod's earnest streak on Samantha gets her flabbergasted in the giddiest ways, and Charlotte's attempt to convert to Judaism is right in character. The touchstone episode is "A Woman's Right to Shoes," in which Carrie loses her prized and expensive Manolo Blahniks at a party. The comedy blends serious points of how we perceive singles, couples, and parents (and the gifts we lavish on the latter two). Carrie's method of celebrating her singlehood is just another gem in this treasure of a series. --Doug ThomasSeason Six, Part II
With these eight episodes, HBO's grand sitcom concluded, leaving untold numbers of women--and many men--feeling deprived. The six-year series certainly did not outlast its welcome; the final season is some of the best TV had to offer in 2004. In many ways, the eight episodes served as a single finale, with all four characters approaching a kind of destiny and happiness, the theme of this last half-season (which aired weeks after the first half). Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) continues her romance with Russian artist (Mikhail Baryshnikov), a flippantly arrogant man who's been around the block, but able to supply Carrie's needed desire for magic. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has settled down with Steve (David Eigenberg), but there is more that will change with her, including her address. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) continues to make baby plans now that the husband slot is filled quite nicely (Evan Handler). Samantha (Kim Cattrall) brings a good sense of drama to the show with a breast-cancer scare.
Going down the final stretch--and Samantha's cancer--gives the series a more serious tone, but there's always a jab to tickle the funny bone: Miranda's awkwardness with happiness, Charlotte's latest passion, Carrie typing someplace new, and Samantha getting into Paris Hilton territory. Like any series winding down, there is a wedding, a baby, old faces popping up, and some star-ladened new ones (like creative consultant Julia Sweeney as a nun). In the final two-part episode, "An American in Paris," Carrie faces her romantic destiny, but also solidifies herself as a fashion icon, an Audrey Hepburn for 21st-century television. In the penultimate episode, she asks her friends an emotional question: "What if I never met you?" Certainly fans can ask of themselves the same question and reminisce how much better TV became since they first tuned in these four women of the City.
For the last of the DVD sets, the folks behind SATC give their fans a few more DVD extras. As we find out in the near-hourlong 2004 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Seminar (with executive producer Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the writing team), the alternate endings seen here were false leads to throw off the press. Thank goodness--what fan would want one of these endings? More enjoyable is the 11 minutes of deleted scenes from the run of the show. King's expert touches on the commentary are fun to listen to, if a lovefest. And speaking of love, the two farewell tributes are filled with reminiscences and favorite clips, all done with a beautiful fondness for this series. --Doug Thomas
Sex and the City: The Movie
Sex and the City 2
The four glitziest ladies ever to hit Manhattan as a single force--Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte--are back, fabulous as ever, in Sex and the City 2. They may be older, and even a little wiser, but the pulls of love, lust, careers, and a pair of well-turned stilettos are still the focus of this Fab Four. As the women gamely face the prospect of aging--children, menopause, glass ceilings, and, in Carrie's opinion a fate worse than death--domesticity--they still manage to sparkle with the banter and great outfits that made the HBO series and the first film such hits. Sex and the City 2 opens with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) at the wedding of two of the foursome's favorite gay male friends, Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone). The wedding itself pulls out all the stops--in the true spirit of Sex and the City--and is one of the highlights of the film. From the no-holds-barred décor, including live swans, to the gay men's chorus singing show tunes while the guests arrive, the event is on the far side of over the top. As the guests settle into their seats, Miranda whispers, "Could this wedding be any gayer?" and as if on command, out comes Liza Minnelli, playing herself, to officiate. (Minnelli's performance is unexpectedly splendid, and her "wedding song" will wow all her fans--gay, straight, married, single.) Yet beneath the luscious glamour and the really bad hats (oh, Carrie, you should have resisted that harlequin feathered crown), the heroines are struggling with the not-so-glamorous realities of their lives. Charlotte and Harry (the always delightful and dependable Evan Handler) have two demanding young daughters--and a nanny from Ireland whose braless voluptuousness puts new meaning in the phrase "Irish spring," and who may be threatening their marriage. Miranda, ever the focused career gal, is getting nowhere fast at her law firm. And Carrie, now married to Mr. Big (Chris Noth), is chafing at the cozy staying-in and lying-low that she thinks spell death to romance. (It should be noted that vixen Samantha is still game for walking on the wild side. At the wedding she meets a handsome straight guy and asks him what he does for a living. "I lay concrete," he says. Samantha: "That sounds promising.") And for once there are no easy, glib answers to the real-life problem of the four stars, and Sex and the City 2 lets the characters actually grow up, at least a little. Which doesn't mean their fashions aren't fabulous. The film is also chock-a-block with great cameos, including Miley Cyrus, Project Runway's Tim Gunn, and Penélope Cruz. And longtime fans of the TV series will be happy to hear that Smith Jerrod (Jason Lewis), Samantha's onetime flame, and Aidan (John Corbett), who once stole Carrie's heart, also make appearances. Sex and the City 2 is frothier than a shaken bottle of Champagne, and goes down as smoothly as a couple of appletinis. So fans, drink up! --A.T. Hurley