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October 25, 2011

“Sex and the City”

by admin
sex_and_the_city11

Contributor: Carol Perales

“Sex in the City” was a 90’s American cable hit television show. Set in New York City, the show broadcasted on HBO from 1998-2004.[1] The comedy series focused on the life of Carrie Bradshaw, a New York writer who discussed various themes centered on love, sex, and relationships. The show touched on various issues affecting Carrie’s life as well as that of her three best friends who were also dealing with various challenges facing the single 90’s woman.  The show became very popular with young women ages 18-34 who were attracted to the show’s humor, or felt a connection to its themes.[2]“Sex in the City” was very straightforward with sexual references and crude humor and therefore faced much criticism from parents and religious groups who felt that these shows had a negative effect on its audiences, especially children and teenagers.

When I was growing up my family never had cable in the house.  Therefore, I feel slightly disconnected with my fellow peers when 90’s cable television shows are discussed because I lack these childhood experiences. I never knew what MTV, “The Simpsons”, or music videos were—until I started going over to my friends’ houses to watch T.V.—I just knew I wasn’t allowed to watch them. This being said, I never watched “Sex in the City” growing up. When I asked my mother why she didn’t let me watch these shows, she described them as trashy, crude and hyper-sexualized. It was not until coming to college and having a T.V in my room for the first time that I was able to catch up on all the shows I was never able to watch.  However, I cannot blame my parents for not allowing me to watch these shows. Although “Sex in the City” was not a program made for teens or children, there is no harm in having these shows on cable as long as the proper audiences are viewing them. Crude humor and mature situations should not be necessary to entertain adolescents.

The sexual content of “Sex in the City” was a large concern with many conservative audiences.  The Parents’ Television Council is a non-profit organization that advocates responsible entertainment, educates parents about television content,  as well as producing research and publications. The PTC described HBO as “a sleazy media-darling channel which could stand for Horny, Bawdy, and Obnoxious”. A new audience “that doesn’t pay premium prices for soft porn now can get the same slutty product, diluted—with a little less nudity and the word ‘freaking’ where obscenity used to be.” There is no hiding the parents’ disapproval for the show or what they find repulsive. They identify nudity, obscenity and sexuality as some of their concerns.[3] Shows like these have been blamed for rise in teenage pregnancy. According to an article on MailOnline—part of the newspaper Daily Mail—studies showed that “teenagers who watch TV shows and music videos with high sex content become sexually active earlier and have an increased risk of contracting diseases.”[4] The Parents that make up the PTC argue that these shows glamorize sex without properly mentioning its dangers while encouraging their young viewers to take part in this seemingly recreational adult activity. However, a content analysis by Robin E. Jensen and Jakob D. Jensen in Sex Roles compared the sexual depiction in “Sex and the City” to television in general and found that “’Sex and the City’ is more likely than television in general to depict healthy sex.” The show was found to depict public health messages about STDs, AIDS, and sexual health.  The show was also able to openly discuss sex from a woman’s perspective, opening up discussion and providing dialogue for everyday women.[5]

This show encompasses a variety of themes that parents fear their children will be exposed to, which will in turn ruin their innocence. We try to shield our children from obscenity or sexuality but in the end they have to grow up and face the adult world where these are everyday encounters. While I believe there should be age appropriateness in what programs children and teens are watching, we must also remember that there are specific shows made exclusively for an adult audience. Instead of enclosing or overprotecting youth, proper information and open dialogue should be made available. Hopefully children and teens will feel comfortable asking parents for help instead of relying on unrealistic spectacles found in television programs.


[1] “Sex and the City (TV Series 1998–2004) – IMDb,” The Internet Movie Database, n.d., http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0159206/.

[2] Robin E. Jensen and Jakob D. Jensen, “Entertainment Media and Sexual Health: A Content Analysis of Sexual Talk, Behavior, and Risks in a Popular Television Series,” Sex Roles 56 (February 16, 2007): 275-284.

[3] “Sex and the City on TBS Campaign – Parents Television Council,” Parents Television Council, n.d., http://www.parentstv.org/ptc/campaigns/sexandthecity/main.asp.

[4] Barry Wigmore, “Sexually charged shows such as Sex And The City and Friends to blame for rise in teenage pregnancy | Mail Online,” Mail Online, n.d., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082571/Sexually-charged-shows-Sex-And-The-City-Friends-blame-rise-teenage-pregnancy.html.

[5] Jensen and Jensen, “Entertainment Media and Sexual Health.”

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