A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show actually has lots of heart; so much so, in fact, that if not for the frank talk -- and "walk" -- about sex (of all kinds), it would actually make a good primer on the enduring benefits of friendship, the power of love, and the importance of self-esteem. That said, nudity is a given in nearly every episode of the original HBO broadcast (available on DVD and on demand), as are very frank discussions on romance, lust, and love. The edited versions running in syndication have toned down the ladies' language, as well as the nudity (which, of course, just leaves more to the imagination ...), which is why this review is rated OK for 15+. The uncut versions would warrant a 17+ age recommendation.
What's the story?
Make no mistake about it, the title of this series says a lot: SEX AND THE CITY is about sex -- the need for it, the want of it, the pursuit of it -- as well as what Sarah Jessica Parker (who plays the main character, sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw) once referred to as the "fifth lady" of the show: New York. The show has plenty of both, with dazzling scenes of the Big Apple and lusty scenes of the women, mainly Samantha (Kim Cattrall), enjoying good, not-so-old-fashioned romps. Aside from Samantha, Carrie's "family" also includes Charlotte (Kristin Davis), an art gallery-curator-turned-socialite with a heart of gold, and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), a lawyer with a steely exterior who wants not only to be loved but to love someone back.
Is it any good?
But blissfully, the title doesn't say it all; what makes this HBO classic (now broadcast nightly in syndication) so delightful is that it's also about a distinctly post-modern version of family: friends. As Carrie herself would probably type on her omnipresent laptop: Where would life be without friends? Though various men (and some women) may flit in and out of their lives, the four women always have each other, and that's a joy to watch onscreen. Never have friendships been rendered so completely as in Sex and the City -- the women may be fabulous, but their relationships unfold in completely human glory, warts and all.
Not that the show's perfect. In fact, sometimes, the characters play too much to type: Sex-starved Samantha wears thin, as when she beds a fireman (do viewers really need to see her in yet another strange position?); it's hard not to wonder just how Carrie can afford such expensive shoes on a writer's budget; Charlotte's preppy shtick borders on Pollyanna; and Miranda's simply too harsh. And the men? Most of them, including Carrie's main squeeze, Big (Chris Noth), are ne'er-do-wells, ready to break hearts. But just when the show verges on irritating, it's rescued by witty writing and intelligent acting. (In one episode, when Carrie confronts her judgmental tendencies toward Samantha, the dialogue is stingingly, startlingly believable.) Often, if not always, the writers snap the show back to cold, harsh truths. And thank goodness for that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the quest for love is the main theme of the entire series. And not just romantic love, either. What are the different types of love?
What role do friends have in one's life? Do they sometimes take the place of family? Why? In the end, does a woman need a relationship to be whole?
For kids who love upbeat stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.