Serial Gossip: Gossip as Theme and Narrative Strategy in Sex and the City

  • Esther Fritsch


In the wake of television series like Friends and Ally McBeal, Darren Star’s Sex and the City (HBO 1998–2004) has carved out a niche for itself among the shows about the trials and tribulations of 30-something American urbanites. With its focus on the private or rather intimate lives of its four female protagonists and their exploration and construction of the rules of dating in Manhattan, the award-winning show is made of the material typically discussed in gossip, the communicative practice that is widely engaged in but is often discounted as idle or immoral. The show deals to a large extent with characteristically gossipy themes involving sex and money, and the protagonist Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) is a gossip columnist, the episodes largely showing the raw material from which she spins her articles for the fictitious New York Star. Moreover, elements and strategies of gossip play a major role in determining how the show is presented. Particularly the way the comedy series uses showing and telling — for example asides and voice-over narration — in presenting its stories is based on principles typical of gossip. Sex and the City can thus be said to be not just based on gossip and to be about gossip, but one can also claim that it functions like gossip in several respects. On the level of story, of narrative mediation and of reception, Sex and the City thus draws on gossip strategies.


Fairy Tale Soap Opera Narrative Strategy Female Protagonist Personal Talk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Althans, B. (2000) Der Klatsch, die Frauen und das Sprechen bei der Arbeit. Frankfurt/New York: Campus.Google Scholar
  2. Bergmann, J. (1987) Klatsch: Zur Sozialform der diskreten Indiskretion. Berlin: De Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, M. E. (1990) ‘Motley Moments: Soap Operas, Carnival, Gossip and the Power of the Utterance’. In M. E. Brown (ed.), Television and Women’s Culture. London: Sage, 183–98.Google Scholar
  4. Bushnell, C. (1997) Sex and the City. London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  5. De Certeau, M. (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. S. Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  6. Fine, G. A. and R. L. Rosnow (1978) ‘Gossip, Gossipers, Gossiping’. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 4: 161–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fritsch, E. (2004) Reading Gossip — Funktionen von Klatsch in Romanen ethnischer amerikanischer Autorinnen. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.Google Scholar
  8. Gillespie, M. (1993) ‘Soap Opera, Gossip and Rumour in a Punjabi Town in West London’. In National Identity and Europe: The TV Revolution. London: British Film Institute, 25–43.Google Scholar
  9. Kozloff, S. (1988) Invisible Storytellers: Voice-over Narration in American Fiction Film. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Levin, J. and A. Arluke (1985) The Inside Scoop. New York, etc.: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  11. Rosnow, R. L. and G. A. Fine (1976) Rumor and Gossip: The Social Psychology of Hearsay. New York: Elsever.Google Scholar
  12. Rysman, A. (1977) ‘How the Gossip Became a Woman’. Journal of Communication 27: 176–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Smith, J. (2002) Manhattan Dating Game: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Sex and the City. London: Virgin.Google Scholar
  14. Spacks, P. M. (1985) Gossip. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Esther Fritsch 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther Fritsch

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations