Is the hit show Sex and The City and its freewheeling foursome of sex-charged female characters bringing new expectations into American bedrooms?
HBO's Sex and The City follows the friendships, careers and often steamy love lives of four Manhattan women. From the stilettos on their feet to the clever catch phrases that come out of their mouths, the show's sexy quartet has surely left a mark on pop culture, and maybe even what goes on behind closed doors.
Sex therapist Laura Berman said the show helps women feel more comfortable when talking about sex and relationships.
"I think the greatest thing about Sex and The City is it's really bringing sex out of the closet, so to speak," Laura said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "Women are feeling more empowered. The message it gives is that women should take control of their sexuality. "
Carrie Bradshaw, played by actress Sarah Jessica Parker, is a sex columnist who is now dating the sweet and grounded furniture designer Aidan Shaw. She ended an affair with a married boyfriend, "Big," after concluding once and for all that he was emotionally unavailable.
Samantha, played by actress Kim Catrell, is by far the most uninhibited and sexually confident of the girls. Her attitude toward sex is the more the better, and that sexual pleasure is more important than a relationship.
She recently ended a lesbian affair and tried to seduce a priest.
Urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman said Samantha's fictional character might lead some women to expect too much out of their own sex lives.
"I mean, I think that it does give unrealistic expectations," Jennifer said. "I mean, not every orgasm is swinging from the chandeliers and fireworks going off. Women do, on occasion, need a reality check that it's not going to be that way every time. Or, maybe never be that way."
If the sexual expectations and appetites of the NYC foursome haven't made their way into American bedrooms, some of the catch phrases probably have.
"Bed arrest," for example, means being held captive by someone who wants to cuddle after sex. As in this quote from the show: "The sex was great, but then the guy had me on bed arrest for all of Saturday morning."
Then there's "toxic bachelors," good-looking, romantic guys who are afraid of commitment.
Both Jennifer and Laura Berman agree that even though the characters are very open about their sexuality, the show still reveals their anxieties. That is important for viewers to acknowledge, they say.
In a recent episode, Carrie thinks out loud as she looks at her bed: "Are we secretly being graded every time we invite someone to join us in it? A+, B, D, incomplete? Is making love nothing more than a pop quiz? And if sex is a test, how do we know if we're passing or failing?"