*Spoilers from the “Sex and the City” movie trailer ahead.*
I recently saw the trailer for the “Sex and the City” movie that’s due out in the spring. And my great anticipation to see the film made me realize why the other “Sex and the City”- wannabe-TV-programs are lacking and why, perhaps, they’re not catching fire like the original.
Take “Cashmere Mafia ” on ABC, about four career-oriented gal pals in New York City. While I think it has some redeeming qualities, there are aspects that irk me, such as the open-handed, verbal face-slap it gave at-home moms  in one of its early episodes. However I frequently find myself wishing that the writers would decide whether “Mafia’s” supposed to be a soap opera, a comedy, a drama, or a combo plate, otherwise known as a dramedy.
A recent storyline  involved a married hedge fund manager, Zoë Burden (Frances O’Connor) who has two small children and frequent child care problems. Her story veered into pseudo-serious territory when Zoë was passed up for a promotion after she helped land a big-bucks account. While speaking with the colleague who took credit for snagging the client and subsequently got the promotion, the co-worker made a snide comment saying that the client wouldn’t want his millions handled by “Mommy.” Furious, Zoë quit, went home and became one of those psycho-mommies, the kind who does her child’s homework for her and is obsessed with every aspect of her kids’ lives. I couldn’t tell if this plot turn was supposed to be interpreted as serious social commentary, satire, or some hodgepodge of both. And that, I think, is the problem.
Then there’s NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle ” – which I find more entertaining than “Mafia” – about three career-oriented gal pals in New York City. The counterpart to “Mafia’s” working mom-Zoë character is Brooke Shields’ Wendy Healy, the head of a film company and mom of two young kids. Wendy vacillates between micromanaging events at work (like a disastrous movie premiere), to warring with a former nanny who wrote a tell-all book labeling her as a bad mommy. As with “Mafia,” I couldn’t tell how I was supposed to take these storylines.
That’s where “Sex and the City ,” the TV show, shined. It was intended to be a comedy with occasional moments of sappiness and seriousness. You knew what you were getting. And as I watched the trailer  for the movie  that’s slated to be released on May 30, I saw what’s missing from the other two shows.
For every moment of Carrie Bradshaw’s romantic angst (does she or doesn’t she marry Big?), there was Samantha Jones’ over-the-top oogling of male eye candy. For all of Miranda Hobbes’ cynicism (complaining that women had only two choices for Halloween costumes, “witch or sexy kitten”), there was Charlotte York’s sunny optimism (riding the carousel with her husband Harry and their adopted daughter, and later announcing she’s pregnant). There was a balance. When the foursome converged for their ubiquitous gatherings, those meetings were sometimes intense (dissecting Carrie’s love life), sometimes not (Samantha chastising Miranda for failing to wax and for growing “a national forest”). The movie  seems -- at least according to the trailer and going by six seasons of the TV show on HBO – like it will be a light confection, with a dash of social commentary and winks of realism amidst the oversized flower pins, crazy hats and six-inch-high platform shoes.
From what I’ve watched of the networks’ new offerings which seek to fill the void left by “Sex and the City,” they haven’t yet found the right, magic mix. But all is not lost. The shows’ creators – Darren Star, the producer of “Sex and the City,” produces “Mafia,” while author Candace Bushnell, on whose book “Sex and the City” was based, produces “Lipstick” – could re-jigger their formulas and decide whether they want their program to be a soap opera, drama, comedy or a dramedy, not all four poured into the margarita blender and dumped into a salt-ringed glass. Right now, “Mafia’s” future  is uncertain while NBC is still airing the “Lipstick” episodes completed before the writers’ strike.
In the meantime, I’ve got May 30 circled on my calendar and the original quartet on my HBO On Demand to tide me over.