07/23/2013 10:14 am ET

The Difference Between TV's Difficult Men and Difficult Women

Heard enough about Difficult Men, the recently published history of shows about (and made by) complicated genius-men that elevated the medium of television forever? This week New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum used the book as an occasion to burnish the reputation of the four easy, though often unlikable, women of Sex and the City.

After the series’ cop-out finale (in a convenient surprise, Aleksandr Petrovsky turns out to be physically abusive, allowing the merely emotionally abusive Mr. Big to come to Carrie’s rescue) and decadent, mid-recession big-screen follow-ups, Sex and the City was critically denigrated, Nussbaum explains. As a result, we tend to forget the complex allegories about women’s emotional, ideological, and sexual lives that were present in SATC (and are mapped out by Nussbaum). Instead, we pat the series on the head for the “rawness of its subject matter,” which allowed women to talk “more explicitly about their bodies,” and for opening the door for more shows about women.

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