November 5, 2008

With Carrie and Co. Gone, What's a Girl To Do?

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Let’s all stop for a moment, and take a break from our busy lives to ruminate on the importance of Chick-Flick TV. Since the sad passing of Sex & the City, us mourners have been forced to don black Manolos while we search for something else to fill our sexless void. We left no remote unturned, no TV screen unlit. Dedicated in our quest, we traveled painstakingly from one estrogen saturated show to the next.
It had been a long and arduous search, and finally I stumbled on what I thought may heal my heart’s gaping wound: ABC gave birth to Cashmere Mafia. It was simply perfect — all the scandal and twice the time — although I continued to miss my dear friends Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. I was beginning to be well acquainted with the women of Cashmere Mafia — there was the high-powered, chic, Mia Mason (Lucy Lui), ice-queen Juliet Draper (Miranda Otto), career woman and mother Zoë Burden (Frances O’Connor) and sexual adventurer Caitlin Dowd (Bonnie Somerville). These four women could never replace Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, but they were a solid, close second. As long as I could continue to live out my high-powered career fantasies through impeccably dressed independent women who could do anything in stilettos, I was content. It was time to remove the mournful Manolos.
Cashmere Mafia contains many of the same trademarks as it’s predecessor, Sex & the City, and it’s no wonder too, given that Darren Star (Sex & the City producer) had six seasons of experience working alongside writer Candace Bushnell. Both shows are marked by the personification of New York City, although I would argue that the Big Apple was more successfully transformed into an influential character in Sex & the City than in Star’s spin-off. Admittedly, Cashmere Mafia’s run on ABC was less than an entire season, barely enough time to get to know a character let alone create one out of a major city.
The two shows share the same tendency to create themes out of ridiculous sexual encounters, asking us to ponder the “important” issues of love. (For example, who gets custody of a sex-tape, post break-up, if anyone? What is sexuality, anyway — isn’t it possible just to love someone for the person that they are and not their genetically granted XX or XY parts?) Despite these wonderful parallels — which elicited happy memories of Carrie and friends and subdued the cries of the heartbroken lovers of Sex & the City — we lost Cashmere Mafia after only seven episodes.
During the time that ABC was experimenting with the Mafia, NBC released Lipstick Jungle. Despite being based on a novel by Candace Bushnell, Jungle had considerably fewer similarities than Cashmere Mafia with the original Sex & the City. It certainly made me wonder whether or not Darren Star had been trying to rip-off Bushnell’s concepts, but couldn’t add quite enough creativity to make it his own, while Bushnell forged ahead with a similar but fresher concept.
Admittedly, I was disheartened when Cashmere Mafia was taken off the air because, as far as first seasons go, Mafia was not only more riveting than Jungle but also recalled Sex & the City — and the familiar is always more comfortable. But my loyalty will always remain with Bushnell, first and foremost, and I suspect that Cashmere Mafia was the result of some shady politics between Starr, Bushnell and the networks. And shady is simply something that I can’t associate myself with.
The women of Lipstick Jungle are refreshingly human despite their glamour-filled lives, and their back-stories are growing exponentially more complex as season two continues. I was skeptical of the Jungle’s season one, but the most recent episodes have begun to renew my faith in Chick-Flick TV. I welcome you into my weekly schedule of TV-facilitated procrastination, oh Tarzan & the City.