Sex and the City has become so ubiquitous, you’ll often hear women venting about frenemies, gushing about their own Mr. Big, or imparting “he’s just not that into you” wisdom onto one another. It’s almost impossible for women not to compare themselves to the four fearless females that created a television and feminist revolution. But in a post-Sex and the City era, is it possible for television shows about single women to feel fresh and new?
MTV does its best to answer this question with a “no” by giving us a brand new batch of single women navigating love, work, and friendship in the Big Apple (duh that’s the The City, right?): Downtown Girls. The show’s narrator or “Carrie figure” is Shallon Lester, a writer for Glamour.com (Woo hoo the Internet! A definite upgrade from the New York Star). Like fellow writer Carrie Bradshaw, Shallon uses her work to help narrate her own life and the lives of her friends, doing so through her video blogs. In keeping with the theme of 2010 technology, she and her friends also use Facebook to screen potential dates, which sadly is a valid method these days. These friends are deliberately placed into convenient female stereotypes: the daddy’s girl (Nikki), the ditzy one (Victoria), the engaged one (Klo), and the Brit (Gurj), while Shallon does her best to come off as a cross between Carrie and Samantha, resulting in dialogue that feels like she’s trying way too hard.
Just as Carrie posed questions to begin each SATC episode, Shallon asks the question: Can you recycle your ex? The jury is still out on that question, but Downtown Girls certainly doesn’t have a problem with recycling story lines from SATC. Tired of being single, and feeling as if they’ve dated every man in Manhattan, the women set up an “ex-swap” party at Lucky Strike bowling alley (should they have gone with karaoke?). Each girl will bring men she is no longer interested in, in hopes that he’ll hit it off with one of her friends. (Remember Charlotte’s own recycled men party?). Cue clinking glasses! Tequila shots! Awkwardness at seeing their exes! Jealousy at seeing their friends flirt with their exes! Drunken make outs with boys who only recently started growing chest hair! (Burning question: Where and when did Victoria meet that 19-year-old if he’s her ex-boyfriend?)
In its premiere episode, Downtown Girls appears to be a highly self-indulgent venture by women who have been practicing their best Sex and the City impressions ever since the series ended. Alas, nothing feels new and exciting. All laughs and shock value (the girls meet up at pole dancing class! Just a casual Saturday in NYC!) are totally forced. Even with their limited plots, The City and The Hills are at least flashier, glossier half-hours of escapism. How much longer will we be force fed this “be-envious-of-my-glamorous-city-lifestyle” reality TV? And what’s the point of simply recreating a genre without adding something new?
Still, I can’t make any promises that I won’t sit through another episode. Sorry, but it’s summer, and haven’t you heard that Lost has ended?! Plus the previews show the ladies headed for a trip to Medieval Times!
What did you think of Downtown Girls, PopWatchers?