Television to the Rescue of Romantic Comedy: “Sex and the City’s” Revitalisation of the Genre at the Turn of the Millennium

By Beatriz Oria.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“Sex and the City” is a TV series produced by the US premier cable subscription channel HBO between 1998 and 2004. Despite its explicit address to a seemingly restricted niche audience, the show enjoyed an incredible popularity worldwide, virtually becoming a postfeminist icon at the turn of the millennium. My essay analyses the series from a film studies perspective. It argues that part of the show’s success may lie in its ability to fill certain gaps left by cinema in the romantic comedy genre since the late 1980s up to the 2000s. Contemporary romantic comedy’s prudishness in the representation of sex and its lack of cultural specificity contrasts strongly with “Sex and the City’s” sexual daring and firm engagement with its zeitgeist. Thus, this paper argues that “Sex and the City’s” preoccupation with its socio-cultural context, its uninhibited representation of sex, and its fondness for open endings make it closer to the “nervous romances” of the 1970s, than to the “neo-traditional” generic cycle in which the show is inserted. Ultimately, my essay concludes that, thanks to its serial form, TV may be a better equipped medium than film to represent the turbulence and uncertainty of contemporary intimate culture. Moreover, “Sex and the City’s” achievements appear to be framed by a larger tendency nowadays, as contemporary US TV fiction occasionally seems to surpass cinema in its artistic accomplishments.

Keywords: “Sex and the City”, Television, Romantic Comedy, “Quality TV”, Nervous Romance

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp.127-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 672.031KB).

Dr. Beatriz Oria

Junior Lecturer, English Studies Department, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

Beatriz Oria is a Lecturer at the Department of English, University of Zaragoza (Spain), where she teaches film analysis. She is a member of a research group on cinema and cultural studies. Her PhD dissertation analyses HBO’s TV series “Sex and the City” from a generic perspective.


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