TV Reviews

10 Years Without Sex… and the City.

I was going over some notes last night in preparation for this post. I wanted to double check dates and details and such, so I went to a Panera Bread where I could have a bite to eat and use their wi-fi. ¬†While I was there, I noticed a group of young people, no older than their teens or early twenties. It was two girls and a gay friend. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but every so often a stray word was audible and I got the idea that they were discussing being young, single, relationships, being a girl, being gay, all that jazz. It was conversation that was so reminiscent of the diner talk from Sex and the City.

Ten years ago, today, the series finale of Sex and the City aired, “An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux”. I remember on the Today Show that morning hearing Anne Curry discussing her plans to invite her friends over, have a few cosmopolitans, and say goodbye to the girls.
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So what has the ten years since been like since our affair with NYC and those characters ended? Well, we did get two films out of the franchise, and lackluster ones at that. We also have had several TV shows take off since then. Like ships in the night Sex and the City passed by another female dominated series that rode on the coat tails of what HBO established, Desperate Housewives. It brought to network television an ensemble that almost rivaled Carrie and the gals in terms of personality.

We’ve even gotten a couple of spin offs, like Lipstick Jungle and The Carrie Diaries, the latter of which has achieved a modicum of success. So what effect has Sex and the City’s absence had?

Many people speak fondly of their time with Sex and the City, like it was a phase they were glad to have, but gladly passed through. Others hold to the show’s legacy tightly as if fearing that mere memory of the series with tarnish its spectacle. Regardless, the show is still relevant today in syndication, even if it’s not as shocking as it used to be, aside from the nudity. The current generation is growing up with mothers, older sisters, and even brothers who watched the show over the past decade. The show isn’t cutting edge in its cultural relevance, but there is a strong undercurrent that the it drives.

Everyone remembers Sex and the City. Everyone remembers the spoofs. Now young girls and, as Samantha put it, sexually confused boys everywhere couldn’t imagine a Friday night would be complete without gossip and complaining about what it is like to date or be single in whatever city, town, or metropolis they live in. Ten years ago I was just a teenager, closeted, sexually inexperienced, but I still could understand the sense of life and excitement that Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha had.
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Whether it’s your next fling, your next boyfriend or husband, your next best friend, or your next pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, ¬†there’s always something new around the corner if you go out and find it like they did. Maybe in the next ten years we will get another show that pushes limits, introduces us to larger than life characters, and takes on unforgettable adventures. Until then I still have my DVDs.

Until they wear out.

And please pardon me for not doing the series justice and reviewing or recapping the finale on it’s decade anniversary, but I am in the process of doing an episode by episode recap that is currently part way through season 2. I may poke fun, I may criticize some of the choices and characters, but I will always enjoy my viewings of Sex and the City, no matter what Carrie wears or who Samantha screws.
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“Lost” Hope

This scene epitomizes my feelings for the television series Lost. A while back on my blog, an entry indicated that I would be doing a season by season review of the series, and since then while debating the different methods of reviewing and what criteria I would use, I kept running into one problem: I hated how the show ended.

The finale to Lost was polarizing and I am one of those who hated it. It was a cop out. It was cheap. It was unfulfilling. It said, “To hell with the loose ends, let’s toss it all into the heavenly ether and hope you take it as gospel”. Yeah, mmhmm… bad!

Flashback

Upon beginning the show I was instantly hooked. There were so many elements that had congealed so perfectly that it was hard to tell where one ended and another began. The characters all had back stories which were, mostly, interesting and thematically relevant to the ongoing plot, and the setting was beautiful if you’re into the whole crashed-on-the-beach-bum scene. Even the gorgeous soundtrack aided in extracting not only the emotions the actors were portraying, but also from the audience (me).

Yeah, the soundtrack got to me sometimes. Several times.

It was hard to imagine the show running out of steam, since every episode added new mysteries and differing shades of grey to the characters and their motives. Even the island itself was a character in many ways, and it had its own secretive and terrifying ways of manipulating the survivors of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. Then once meeting The Others and discovering inhabitants on the island (scary natives?) who come and go at will (scary scientists?) or want to return (scary rich people?), things really ramped up.

Flashsideways

No that’s not a scene from Lost, despite the beachy setting, but it may as well have been because there was a moment that equaled Fonzy jumping the shark in its incredulity. At the end of season 4, the infamous and duplicitous Ben turns a wheel and *ahem* moves the island. Not like a boat, which might have been more plausible, but like a time machine. Thus began a series of flashing all over the frickin’ place, but mostly sideways between alternate and past realities.

By this point the writers had run out of directions to flash. Gone were the days of using flashback to paint pretty backstories for us, which they nearly over-did anyway. I mean, how many memories can some of these people have without living some kind of Hinduistic past life? Then they flashed forwards, which was supposed to be a surprise. So sideways was all that was left.

It was by this point that I was running out of patience. In their attempt the keep things fresh, the writers began to abandon some of the early mysteries of the show in favor of developing new ones around characters that came on stage later and demanded too much screen time. It was exhausting, and I was really thinking about “breaking up” with Lost since it was treating me so badly.

Flashforwards

I persevered thinking that my diligence would have been rewarded.

That was a silly mistake.

Dead people kept coming back to life, and black smoke became all too familiar and less sinister, and the whole feud between ancient brothers who like tanning together at the foot of a three-toed leg statue was finally explained in some kind of Cain and Abel storyline.

The writers were definitely aiming for epic territory (which they achieved if epic failure counts) but it was all too strained and far removed from the feel of the first two seasons. The show always bordered on a sci-fi feel, but the last seasons were way too much in the vein of Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology” fan fiction.

Duck Your Head!

The finale confirmed that our friends on the island were playing an overlong game in limbo. During their odd celebration of this I noticed all the characters smiling. They were so happy about something. What must it be? That all their actions on the island were completely meaningless because they were already dead? No, that’s not funny. Was there some kind of joke I was missing?

Guess the joke was on us for spending six seasons waiting for them to walk through a damn door.

“Lost” in Transmission…

Some blogs share recipes. Others provide healthy living advice and there are those that break the mold and become a sensation. I don’t know what kind this one will be, but when it’s 21 years old I will take it out for drinks and flirt with its friends. I decided to kick off this particular blog in a big way with a review of a rather behemoth phenomenon that I must have done a great job of ignoring while it was on the air.

Due to several years without cable during the first decade of the new millennium (when you live on your own, TV becomes a sacrifice one makes in favor of other joys. Like internet access, coffee, and wine), I did much of my TV-watching via DVD or Netflix. Because of this there were a few sensations I missed. One of them was indeed “Lost”.

There will be spoilers. Stop reading now if you have plans on subjecting yourself to this series.

The premise of Lost is that several strangers must band together on an uncharted island to survive the wilderness around them. Everyone has a secret and everyone is afraid of dying because it turns out that this island is haunted, or possessed, or something like that because creepy things keep happening.

Sound interesting? Sound like the bastard child of Gilligan’s Island and Twin Peaks?

What I can tell you is that now that I am done watching Lost, I feel like I just escaped an abusive relationship. Lost was a kidnapper, it took me away and brainwashed me, and I became its abject adorer like anyone suffering from Stockholm Syndrome would. There were times when I knew I had to get out, but I kept going back for more, hoping it would reward my loyalty by treating me better. Despite all of that I don’t really hate the show. Not all of it anyway…

The first two seasons were great. I was digging the flashbacks that provided thematic resonance to the plots and characters. The third season got a bit stale. I felt like I was due some answers but all I got were more questions. The fourth season was where I began to get scared. I was happy that flashbacks were finished because three seasons had better be enough to flesh out back stories, but flash forwards? Really? Ugh… okay, but then came season 5. It didn’t have flash anything, it had all out time traveling. THEN, in season 6 we were introduced to the flash-sideways. By this time that was the only direction left to flash, but it was really just a big red herring and you find out in the final episode the truth behind Lost.

The essential truth behind the mysteries of Lost is in fact this: The writers are amazing at setting up mysteries but they are terrible at climaxing them(performance anxiety?). Stay tuned to following posts for a season by season review of things I actually liked.