Thursday, April 2, 2009
POP CULTURE IN ACADEME: K-STATE GRADUATE STUDENT, 'SEX AND THE CITY' FAN, EXPLORES INTERSECTION OF FEMINISM, FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS IN POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT FRANCHISE
MANHATTAN -- Revisiting favorite episodes of "Sex and the City" would be fun for any fan. For one Kansas State University graduate student, it is all done in the name of scholarship.
Kellie Meehlhause, master's student in English, has explored the ways in which the strong female friendships presented among the series' main characters are evidence of feminism. Meehlhause presented her paper "The Loves of Her Life: Female Friendship as the Basis of Feminism in Sex and the City" at the Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association conference in February.
"I'm a fan of the show, and I've watched it a lot," Meehlhause said. "I went along with my own viewing experience, thinking about special moments I remembered, as evidence of my theories."
Meehlhause said her argument is that the friendships among the characters Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte function as a consciousness-raising group that gets the audience thinking about women's perspectives.
"It's not post-feminism, it's feminism," said Meehlhause, a Mounds View, Minn., native who earned her undergraduate degree from Minnesota State University at Moorhead. "I think that their friendships allow them to grow in their sexualities."
Meehlhause said that the trademark voiceover narration by main character Carrie Bradshaw is another way that the show lets the audience in on the female perspective.
She wrote her paper for a graduate-level English class at K-State. Meehlhause said other scholars have written about "Sex and the City," but usually they examine the sexual politics rather than the characters' friendships, which resonate with the franchise's many female fans.
"I didn't find any scholarship dealing specifically with the characters' friendships," she said. "Initially I, too, wanted to talk about the sexual politics, but I kept coming back to this line in the series finale. It's when Mr. Big says to Carrie's friends, 'You're the loves of her life, and a guy's just lucky to come in fourth.'"
For her master's writing project, Meehlhause is combining her scholarship on "Sex and the City" with another HBO series, which follows a young Hollywood actor and his buddies.
"I want to compare the 'Sex and the City' friendships to male friendships in 'Entourage' and see how they compare in terms of gender," she said.