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let's talk about SEX

Fashionistas, fear not. Voyeurs, enjoy the view. The fourth season of Sex and the City retains its trademark style and more skin than the Spice Channel. It retains hints of sarcasm and satire. It continues to follow the incredibly cool adventures of four girls in heat. But there's something new seeping into Sex and the City 4--all of a sudden, the show has a soul.

Our story begins as it always does, with a pair of Manolo Blahniks. The opening shot of the new season is... a shoe. Made famous by the stilettoed silhouettes of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, the Manolo has become the emblem of liberated sex-pots everywhere. It's also one of the old staples present in the show's fourth season. Gone are Charlotte's flaky giggles, Miranda's crippling insecurity, Samantha's at-all-costs strategy and Carrie's party-girl idealism. In this fourth installment, Charlotte calls off her marriage in a black leather jacket; quite a change from last season's beige princess coat and its ecstatic newlywed owner. Miranda calmly confronts a guy who dumped her. Carrie has a no-stress, no-sex night out with the infamous Mr. Big. And Samantha Jones, the woman who always gets her man, doesn't get any this time around (she falls for a priest).

These vignettes revolve around Carrie's 35th birthday, and they all hint at a major new theme: growing up. The first episode of the new season concludes with a concession--wedding-hungry Charlotte admits that perhaps there isn't a man for every woman. "I think maybe we're each other's soul mates," she sighs to her friends. Sappy? Sure. But we know she means it. The first episode of the new season was a tightly written, well-acted winner.

Sex and the City's second episode featured a more coherent storyline. Asked to be a runway model for New York's Fashion Week, Carrie strutted down the runway in sparkly panties--and tripped. "She's model road-kill!" whispered Miranda. In a move sure to be described in years of girly pep talks, Carrie picked herself up, high-fived supermodel Heidi Klum, and finished her catwalk moment amidst monstrous cheers. It was, perhaps, a You-Go-Girl moment for the character some say is the new face of feminism.

Carrie's catwalk turn seems like a small representation of the fourth season thus far. Sex and the City has picked itself up from right where it left off, and continued its celebrated display of great writing, fine performances, drool-worthy wardrobes and attitude to spare.

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