Category: TV trivia
'Why,' I asked her, 'if you like Sex and the City so much don't you like Cutting It?' I suppose I could reverse the question: why do I love Cutting It but detest - in that 'I detest it but watch it' way - SATC?
Superficially, the series have a lot in common. Both are female-orientated, with strong female casts and a predominantly female audience. Both centrally concern relationships, romance and sex. And the central drama in both is strikingly similar: the Big/ Barishnikov/ Carrie love triangle is doubled in Cutting It by the Allie/ Finn/ Gavin relationship.
And yet, in the end, the differences obviously outweigh the points of connection.
Part of this is down to SATC's consumer porn. To the trained eye of the fashionista (i.e. not mine), SATC is so much more sumptuous than the relatively dowdy Cutting It. (This is perhaps reversed by the relative appeal to men of the leading characters in each; as Penman so sagely observed way back when, all of the Sex harridans are repulsive. In the war of the Sarahs, give me Parish over Parker any day of the week!)
Also, and related to this, Cutting It keeps it local whereas SATC flaunts its cosmopolitanism (and its Cosmopolitanism). Cutting It is resolutely local, provincial, whereas SATC was all New York deracinated and internationalist.
And this leads onto the third and most important difference: rootedness. In Cutting It, the theme is the past; its inescapability, the way it will come back to take its revenge upon you, the way you are condemned to repeat it. This was one of the points to emerge from the reverse Great Expectations plot of Gavin's 'outing' this week as the child of a bourgeois family. 'Bullshit', Ruby said, is a 'time bomb'. It will go off in the end, just as roots can only be dyed for so long. By contrast, SATC was all about new starts, about the lack of a past. What do we know of Carrie, Samantha et al's early - presumably pre-NYC - lives? What we do know of their parents? In SATC, family history is excised as neatly as split ends, cut off and swept away, whereas in Cutting It, family history, with all its shadows, secrets, compromises, comforts and commitments, is the net (at once supportive and constricting) that all the characters must negotiate. (Even if the family is not genetic; one of the other themes of this week's episode). In SATC, the problem was: do I start a family or not? In Cutting It, the problem is belonging to a family.
It's impossible not to see this as an English versus an American thing. America, with a future but no past; England, with a past and no future. America, brimming over with possibility, where the sheer blankness of the future, the superfluity of territory, the excess of options are the issue ('how can I possibly choose?'). The terror in SATC was hence of closing down possibilities, of acquiring a past. In Cutting It, the fear (cf Darcy's terror that her life might have been fixed and set before her birth) is of never being able to leave the past ('there is no choice').Posted by mark at May 19, 2004 05:37 PM | TrackBack