Hook-up culture evolves but murder never changes? Revivals of Sex And The City, Sopranos spark debate about morphing social mores
News that fresh life will be given to The Sopranos and Sex and the City has been mostly met with cheers, but has also sparked a deep philosophical Twitter debate about which serial is a better fit for the current zeitgeist.
Both shows appeared on HBO in the late 90s and early 2000s, becoming huge hits. Sex and the City, which aired between 1998 and 2004, followed the lives of four women living in New York City as they juggled careers and relationships.
Crime drama The Sopranos was featured on HBO during roughly the same period, from 1999 to 2007. Both serials won multiple Emmy awards and other honors.
On Monday it was announced that a new series of Sex and the City (often referred to by its acronym, SATC) was on its way, consisting of 10 half-hour episodes. Production is expected to begin in late spring.
The nostalgic return of the TV show is complemented by The Many Saints of Newark, a film that serves as a prequel to The Sopranos. The new flic is scheduled for release in March.
Excitement over both reboots spilled over into social media, but it appears some of the chatter descended into the dangerous realms of sex and gender. Weighing in on the entertainment news, British-American journalist Hadley Freeman expressed dismay over the notion by some that SATC is somehow more outdated than the classic mafia drama.
“I find it fascinating that Sex and the City – a show about a bunch of white women making jokes and shagging – is considered embarrassingly retro and borderline offensive, but The Sopranos – a show about a bunch of white men killing each other – is considered an untouchable classic,” she vented.
I find it fascinating that Sex and the City - a show about a bunch of white women making jokes and shagging - is considered embarrassingly retro and borderline offensive, but The Sopranos - a show about a bunch of white men killing each other -is considered an untouchable classic— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) January 12, 2021
The observation appears to have provoked a tsunami of social media feuding, as both The Sopranos and SATC began trending in the UK.
Several observers countered that changing social norms make it harder to find common cause with characters from SATC, whereas the gangster genre is more story-driven and not as dependent on audiences being able to personally relate to what they’re watching.
I think comedy about sex tends to date more than other genres because the mores change. Rewatching movies recently, I’ve noticed a lot of jokes and scenes, some less than a decade old, that wouldn’t be made now. Gangster drama less so. I did enjoy SATC at the time though.— Dorian Lynskey (@Dorianlynskey) January 12, 2021
“The Sopranos was always a show about criminals and framed as such. SATC was about aspirational New York women but the writing and attitudes seem a bit dated now,” read one reply.
Laura Snapes, the Guardian’s deputy music editor, argued that The Sopranos has more depth to its writing, and was never tied down to contemporary views on morality like SATC was. Others seemed to agree that the mafia series simply had more compelling dialogue and storylines, and therefore has stood the test of time better than SATC.
but the Sopranos is about *bad* people, its morality doesn’t really date. It’s a richer, deeper show - and Carmela is pivotal. But I do think the first few seasons of SATC are brilliant (obvious clangers aside) and unfairly maligned thanks to where the show/movies ended up.— Laura Snapes (@laurasnapes) January 12, 2021
The Sopranos has women making jokes and shagging too - but better jokes and better women characters— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) January 12, 2021
There was also a pro-Sopranos faction which noted that Sex and the City was made into several films, which received highly mixed reviews, tarnishing the show’s legacy.
Maybe The Sopranos is still considered good whilst Sex and the City is now considered trash because The Sopranos didn't torch it's legacy with two dreadful final seasons and two atrocious films?— 'Client Journalism' Expert (@ClientJournoExp) January 12, 2021
But there were plenty of others who applauded Freeman for her social critique.
One pundit put forward that “toxic men perpetuating a cycle of violence,” reflected the “spirit of the age” more than a group of single women “having a great time.”
I don’t know... a group chat of single women having an anxiety free great time? That feels so unrelatable now. Toxic men perpetuating a cycle of violence? Now THAT is the spirit of the age.— Karin Robinson (@karinjr) January 12, 2021
Comedian David Baddiel confessed that he had trouble relating to The Sopranos, and found SATC much closer to home. His comment was met with considerable hostility by fans of the crime drama.
Interesting how many men have been triggered by this. I should stress: I'm sure The Sopranos is a great work of art. I just find in general that I don't engage with gangster movies and TV. I can hear in the responses that some think this makes me not a real man. pic.twitter.com/kNwf3qiTnd— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) January 12, 2021
Even those who said they like The Sopranos noted that shows with female stars seem to face more scrutiny when it comes to the “likability” of the characters.
For me nothing touches sopranos - BUT it does blow my mind how many people cant engage with female-led shows if the deem the lead characters are “unlikeable people” - yet oddly forgiving when it comes to murderers, drug dealers, generally vile male character-led shows 🤷🏼♀️— Clare got Trump suspended once (@clarelouisekc) January 12, 2021
It appears that the debate is actually a rehash of a years-old philosophical discussion. The Atlantic magazine ran a piece back in 2013 arguing that Sex and the City should be considered on par with The Sopranos in terms of cultural significance.
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