Serial Gossip: Gossip as Theme and Narrative Strategy in Sex and the City
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.
KeywordsFairy Tale Soap Opera Narrative Strategy Female Protagonist Personal Talk
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