1. The chat room is always open. Pity the unlucky fellows dating the TV comedy's four female protagonists -- attorney Miranda Hobbes, publicist Samantha Jones, former gallery employee Charlotte York or sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw. Whether it's the guy with the small dick, the guy who likes to touch his balls, the guy who loves to talk dirty in bed -- their secrets all have been outed by the foursome to 43 million HBO subscribers.
2. There's got to be a woman like Samantha Jones in the real world. Sure she's fiction. But somebody, somewhere, decided that a sexy 40-something PR rep whose main hobby is fucking would be a plausible character. The great thing for guys is that Samantha is an egalitarian lay. Black, white, old, rich, poor, farmhands, bartenders, workout trainers, a Pakistani busboy -- such equal-opportunity screwing is a rarity in the real world, where politics and morality often inhibit carnal pursuits. Guys identify with Samantha, and we cheer her on, because she's a lot like us -- horny and predatory.
3. Meeting women is easy in New York City. For all their bitching, the four women have a remarkably easy time meeting men. Samantha even meets a young hunk at a lesbian art opening -- no small feat. It's easy because they're good at flirting. The one exception is Miranda, who doesn't seem to be good at small talk. "She loses her confidence," says Jill Spiegel, a self-proclaimed flirtologist. As Spiegel sees it, flirting is not the art of the come-on. It's the art of putting others at ease. Once the conversation starts, the journey toward sexual discovery ensues.
4. Women wear some ugly-ass clothes. Mainly it's Carrie, whose tastes tend toward the eccentric. The opening credits give her away. She wears what looks to be a ballerina outfit meant for 8-year-old girls: a pink leotard covered by a white froufrou skirt. Carrie also mixes pink tops with green skirts and often wears what look to be pajamas while walking the streets. Men can't relate. Neither can a lot of women.
5. Having a baby is the most important thing in the world. It's even more important than having a relationship. Charlotte broke up with her husband because she wanted one. The girls are going ga-ga over Miranda's choice to raise a child alone. And who knows what will happen now that Samantha appears to be falling in love with Richard, a millionaire playboy?
6. Having a romantic relationship is the second-most important thing in the world. The stylized version of the Big Apple -- its dining and drinking and fashion -- are the show's hallmarks. But every once in a while, a situation arises that lets us know the foursome fears where the single life leads. Miranda has a panic attack after deciding to buy an apartment -- a decision that forces her to realize she may become a 50-year-old cat lady. Despite a failed engagement and breakups with Big, commitment-shy Carrie keeps searching for Mr. Right. And Samantha seems to be craving the quiet life. "I've got monogamy," she tells her friends. "I must have gotten it from the rest of you."
7. Men cry, too. But not nearly as much as women. In each of the first four episodes of the second season, at least one female character cried. Several of them became misty this season, the series' third, when Carrie realized her breakup with Aidan was permanent. Aidan, who will never be mistaken for the John Wayne type, got a little red-eyed over the breakup. But everybody has their weak moments.
8. Women also endure uncomfortable moments. A man ejaculates in Miranda's hair. Samantha beds another whose ass is as wrinkled as a parched apple. Carrie developed a rash when she tried on a wedding gown. Charlotte's husband asks her to measure his John Thomas. What is going on here? "One of the things the show does is out-Seinfeld "Seinfeld,"" says Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor and past president of the International Popular Culture Association. "They take things to a new level. They do things that, as a viewer, make you uncomfortable. You have to look over your shoulder to make sure nobody is watching with you. There's nothing like combining the cringe factor with recognition."
9. Women like sex, too. Surprise! You thought all your girlfriends were alike, moody and premenstrual. As it turns out, our protagonists like to screw as much as we do. Even Charlotte, the most prudish of the bunch, beds men who might otherwise fail to meet her checklist for marriage material. Alas, it is our luck that it's only a TV show. ""Sex and the City" presents New York as a cultural-sexual Disneyland," Thompson says. "It's a fantasy program for big kids. It's a life extension of a college dormitory. But you wouldn't want to live in it. It's catnip when we see it on television. We can taste it without getting burned."
10. Men come and go, but women are forever. Carrie has kissed off two serious relationships. Charlotte is divorcing her dream man. Miranda is serious about no one. Samantha, though toying with monogamy, is likely to be a contender for the permanent girls' club. Men mainly hang around for moral support. And to provide sexual adventures -- and punch lines -- for female characters. Is that so different from the real world?
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