Review: This Show Is Just Plain Embarrassing

It's official. "Sex and the City" is destroying humanity. I don't mean to sound alarmist, and please don't mistake me for a nonfan. Like millions of other "Sex" enthusiasts, I wait with bated breath for the next glorious season of the HBO comedy.

No, it's not the show itself that I object to. It's what that show has done to my fellow woman-or at least to the few of them who signed on for the embarrassing knockoff, "Single in the City," now showing on the cable channel Women's Entertainment (Sundays at 8 p.m. EDT).

The gaggle of girls we follow in this reality-TV "documentary" are downright deplorable, engaging in every form of dating cruelty-cheating, leading men on, using them for their money, hitting on their friends and, in general, emasculating them in every New York nightspot imaginable. They all seem to spend half their time ritually torturing their dates and the other half wondering why the men don't call back.

It's not just the fanged foursome who proudly call themselves "the Barracudas" who engage in this sort behavior. Nearly every participant is guilty of despicable breaches of dating decorum, all explained to the camera without an ounce of contrition. Like Allison, the 6-foot-tall model whose boyfriend of a year and a half catches her on a date with another man. Or Natasha, a Wall Streeter, who juggles three dates at once, keeping the men in separate parts of the bar. Or Leoni, an Angelina Jolie lookalike, who refuses to date anyone but barely legal male models. Sit through enough of these episodes, and you begin to think that all women are pathological liars, emotionally damaged beyond repair. If I were a man, I wouldn't commit to them either.

The series was first taped last summer for New York's MetroTV channel, and it can't help but feel terribly "September 10th"-filled with now woefully trivial declarations like "A personal yoga instructor is an absolute must." Back then, it was called "To Live and Date in New York," but some executive somewhere along the way decided that viewers might be too stupid to notice its real-life "Sex and the City" aspirations. The show became "Single in the City" and the aggressive national advertising campaign features four of the women dressed in all white-a clear ripoff of last season's HBO ads.

On the show, the look-we're-cool-by-association persists. One participant is described as a "real-life Carrie Bradshaw" while another has "a Mr. Big in her life." The whole series even opens with a quick cameo from Kristin Davis ("Sex and the City's" Charlotte): "People come up to me all the time and say 'Thank you! You say the things we're afraid to say'." The problem, girls, is that some things are so shallow and vile they should never be said. Not even over cosmos.

The difficulty with "Sex and the City" wanna-bes-which applies equally to the show and its many featured daters-is that they miss the whole point. Sure it's fun to hear ladies dish about dicks and dildos. But what keeps us tuning in week after week, season after season, is the relationship between the four women and our sense that they are generally decent human beings. It's a show about conversations-smart, witty conversations as a matter of fact, with a dash of salaciousness thrown in to keep it naughty and fun.

But "Single in the City" has very little conversation and absolutely no sex. The cameras overhear very little of the women's actual interactions; instead the daters deliver annoying monologues directly to the camera like they're giving the weather report. One woman steps outside middate to let us know, "It's going really well. He's great to talk to." Yet we were just privy to: "[Long pause] ... So. Uh. What's on the menu." Yeah. Great to talk to. And although some of them must be college educated, the women come across as excruciatingly dumb. (The number of men they're dating at any given time is the only indication that several of them can count past 10.)

What struck me most was that these women were not the least bit embarrassed about their caddish behavior. In fact, they seemed pleased-as if their actions were proof that they've achieved the fabulous lifestyle they're so clearly imitating. They seem to think that "Sex and the City" has sanctioned their man-izing, completely forgetting that whenever one of their HBO heroines acts amoral, the results are usually disastrous.

Let this show be a warning you. It's not easy to emulate "Sex and the City." The only thing these women get right is the shoes.

Review: This Show Is Just Plain Embarrassing | News