Sex and the City
Sex and the City was not a perfect show. I wondered sometimes if the creators ever considered a few wholly "gen" episodes just to demonstrate these women's lives revolved around something other than men. Yet, I also loved that the show wasn't afraid to say that relationships mattered, even to smart, successful, and talented women. Better yet, it acknowledged that relationships were thorny and complicated; even when you had a good, loving one, it took effort and energy to keep it together. Some of the episodes have stuck with me since my college days, like the one when Carrie ends up with an unflattering photo on a magazine cover and almost hooks up with a guy just to feel better about herself. Then she said, "I realized that would be first time I slept with someone just to validate myself," and got out of his car. I filed that way for myself: that I could have sex with as many people as I wanted, but I shouldn't do it just to boost my self-esteem. That same episode explained to me the danger of faking orgasms, and I filed that one away for future reference too -- no matter how much it annoyed the stupid, vapid boyfriend I had in Japan who would have been happy just to pretend he was good in bed, if only I had gone along with it. So, if Sex and the City wasn't perfect, it was formative for a twenty-year-old girl living on her own in New York City. What I liked about it was that everyone who watched could find herself in one of the characters, and somehow you left each episode feeling less alone with your own relationship dilemmas. I think that is good TV.