“Welcome to the age of un-innocence, no one here has affairs to remember and no one has affairs to remember.”
These are some of the first words we hear from our de facto “heroine” in the pilot episode for HBO’s Sex and the City. It was the first pilot that came to mind, and of the shows I think of as good (Friends, Six Feet Under, Grey’s Anatomy, The West Wing, Dexter etc) along with Pushing Daisies and Desperate Housewives that I saw from its actual beginning – even though it was not “live”. The pilot for Sex and the City works so well because even though, like most pilots, it’s interested in “tell”, “tell”, “tell” it works because we’re never being told too much. There’s a sweet little montage that occurs at the beginning that works excellently. It’s here we meet my favourite Sex and the City character:
MIRANDA: I have a friend, who’s always gone out with extremely sexy guys and just had a good time. One day she woke up and she was 41. She couldn’t get any more dates. She had a complete physical breakdown. Couldn’t hold on to her job and had to move back to Winsconsin to live with her mother. Trust me, this is not a story that makes men feel bad
I could only imagine how shocking it seemed in the nineties, but Sex and the City is never interested in shocking us for the hell of it. It sets its characters up perfectly, and for her faults Sarah Jessica Parker. Really, sometimes Carrie induces an eye roll (okay, most of the time) but even as our heroine she’s not trying to actively woo us, even the virtual absence of any significant male doesn’t hurt it. I don’t get the appeal of Mr. Big (with reason, I suppose) and Skipper is just sad even if he leads to some hilarious comedy with Miranda. Still, I don’t fault a pilot so uncaring about telling us too much and so funny (Samantha’s attempts to woo Mr. Big are just uncomfortably hilarious). It’s an auspicious start to a great show and what makes it work even better is that it works excellently as a stand alone episode.
Notable Pilots: Six Feet Under, Desperate Housewives, Dexter
Late again, I really have no excuse. MEME guilt.