I’m going to be like Sex and the City lead character Carrie Bradshaw and begin this piece by posing a question.
Does Sex and the City really appeal to all women?
If you’re a 30-something female, like me, people will automatically assume that movies like 27 Dresses, Made of Honor, and Sex And The City do, in fact, appeal to you. This goes double if you’re a New York City gal like I am. It goes triple if you have a man in your life, in which case everyone thinks that you probably forced him into seeing 27 Dresses instead of Iron Man.
I guess the fact that I run a geek entertainment website where I write about comic books, superhero movies, and scifi television means nothing. I’m still a 30-something girl, therefore things like lipstick, nylons, and hangbags must be what’s important to me (like Susan Pevensie at the end of the Narnia series!), thereby automatically associating me with something like the Sex and the City. I’ve actually been asked already if I planned to “drag” my husband to go see Sex and the City: The Movie when it opens in theaters this Friday.
The answer, plan and simple (and obvious): No.
Over the course of a decade since the cable series premiered on HBO, I think I’ve probably caught nearly every episode, though never on purpose. Reruns were constantly shown and even now censored episodes of the show air in late-night syndication on the CW network. It was always just “on,” but I was never emotionally invested and never ran home to catch the newest episode. Actually, I didn’t even see the series finale until a year after the show ended. So, although I wouldn’t say I hated the show, I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of it and I definitely never felt like the series was aimed at me.
I initially gave SATC a chance when it began in the late 1990s because I thought it was an original idea for a show, with women being the center of it and not relegated to the housewife role or just on the show to be the “token” female. Instead, these women all had goals, careers, and independent thought. These women, along with my hometown of New York City, were the stars.
The show’s main characters consist of Samantha (Kim Cattrall), the sex fiend public rations guru who can’t be tied down; Charlotte (Kristin Davis), the prudish conventional art gallery worker who desperately wants a husband; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the neurotic, yet successful lawyer turned single mom; and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the seemingly unconventional newspaper columnist and designer shoe obsessor.
Now, I never thought SATC was a bad show; on the contrary, the writing is very well done and the acting is just fine. Some of the storylines are touching or even funny. Unfortunately, over time, I found that I just could not relate to the characters. Over the course of six seasons, these women increasingly became more sex-starved, neurotic, and materialistic to the point where they became caricatures of themselves. I should be able to relate to these ladies, since I’m in the same age bracket as some of them (a tad younger), I live in New York, and work in Manhattan at a publishing house — meaning, I too am a successful career-minded city girl. But the thing is, well, I’m not a narcissistic, superficial slut.
There, I said it.
Now hear me out. There’s NO denying how superficial these characters are. Carrie, who lives in a rent-controlled apartment on what I can’t imagine is a decent salary (c’mon, she writes one article a week, how much can she be pulling it?), manages to have a different outlandish outfit on in every episode and will drop hundreds of dollars on ugly-ass Manolo Blahnik shoes. The girls’ idea of fun is all about the most popular nighttime hotspots and fashion shows; they care about the who’s who in town, and worry about their social standing. At one point, Carrie was getting into debt from all the clothes and shoes she was buying; and when she had to either buy her apartment or lose it, she was almost out in the street because, guess what? She has NO money (try working full-time, it helps). She was then insulted when Charlotte didn’t offer to give her the money for the down payment even though Miranda and Samantha did — but she had to have ALL of them want to give her their hard-earned money. (Get a friggin’ job, Carrie, you self-centered, lazy bitch!)
The film tries to show us that in the four-year span since the television series ended, these characters have matured and settled down. We find Carrie finally marrying Big; Miranda and her husband Steve living with their son in a house in Brooklyn; Charlotte, who’s married to Harry with an adopted daughter, is now pregnant with their second child; and Samantha is living in Malibu finally settled down with her boy toy Smith. Yet, when the foursome reunite for a pow wow, in which Charlotte’s 4-year-old daughter is in attendance, the girls go right for the sex talk. They’ve been talking about sex while having breakfast at that same restaurant for like 10 years, you’d think they’d have exhausted the subject by now. But, no. And when Charlotte asks them to not say the word “sex” in front of her impressionable child, they seem annoyed, with Samantha even remarking that she wouldn’t have flown 3,000 miles to meet with them if she’d known she’d be censored. They compromise by saying “color” instead of “sex” so then Samantha goes on about how she can “color” all day and all night, to which Carrie replies, “We get it, you like to color.” Umm, didn’t we get that she liked to “color” 10 years ago? Why do we need the big-screen version to reiterate this fact ad nauseum?
Again, we’re supposed to see how far these ladies have come in four years, so then why is Carrie still trotting around in ridiculous outfits, planning a lavish wedding, and fretting over closet space? Carrie looked like shit in about half the episodes of the series, and she doesn’t look much better now (although, I see at some point she dyes her hair darker to match the more serious tone of the movie). Even in Manhattan, where everyone basically ignores one another on the street and people get away with wearing the most outrageous ensembles, I still think people would stop and point and laugh at Carrie in her stupid clothes and awful hair. Carrie is not a punk or a goth or someone who’s obviously from the West Village — meaning, she doesn’t fall into the typical non-conformist stylings of those types of New Yorkers. While she tries hard to be unconventional (like the time she wore Aiden’s engagement ring as a necklace instead of on her finger — yeah right!!!), she’s really a wannabe Manhattan socialite, yet she’s like no one I’ve ever encountered.
For one, there’s Carrie’s aforementioned spacious rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side. I still don’t know how she got this apartment (when was the last time they even still had openings for rent-controlled apartments in NYC, 1972?) and how someone hasn’t killed her for it yet. Again, how does she even earn a living writing one article a week? How does she get to go to these fancy niteclubs and events and to buy designer clothes, shoes, and accessories. I hate to say this, but someone like her would be blowing some guy under the bar for free drinks, or rather for coke, in the real world; and someone like her would be drunk off her ass every night and not even remember who she slept with the night before or even where she slept with them. Carrie hardly ever stays at the anonymous guy’s house, yet in reality, Carrie would be humbly hobbling home at dawn with only one high heeled shoe on, wreaking of alcohol still wearing her previous night’s party dress, mascara down her face, and lipstick smeared down her chin after sleeping with some random guy. And if she really did always have the guy come back to her apartment, when she got up in the morning he’d be long gone after he took all her cash and other valuables.
And about those men, well it’s all about what they’re packing. At first, I didn’t have a problem with this, because women have been objectified for, well, forever. It was nice to see the tables turned for once. But after six seasons, nearly 100 episodes, and countless sexual encounters with boring men, enough is enough. Yes, the ladies do settle down eventually … what, on the very last episode of the series? C’mon already.
Now about the sex, please don’t misinterpret what I’m about to say. I’m not saying women shouldn’t be sexually liberated — I’m all for it! But in the over six years’ time in which the series took place, I can’t recall one abortion or even a pregnancy scare; there’s only been one instance of a sexually transmitted disease (Miranda gets Chlamydia); no one gets cervical cancer or even a simple yeast infection! Seriously, at the rate these women are fucking — and with so many different partners — each episode should revolve around them standing over the toilet with an EPT Stick Test or with an at-home HIV testing kit or at the drug store buying various creams and ointments. Nope, instead their [stretched out] vaginas are always fresh, wet, and ready for the next partner, no worries!
The series also makes it a point to show that these women ARE each others’ families. They mean everything to each other and they will drop everything for each other. This is probably the most fantastical part of the show. I’ve already explained how damn slutty these women are, right? Well, guess what? Slutty women do NOT hang out with other slutty women — they hang out with men. They don’t want the competition from other women. This isn’t the Lilith Fair, there’s no hugging or consoling or women power. There’s cattiness and claws out and backstabbing. And there’s NO way Carrie, Miranda, or Charlotte would have let a vamp like Samantha anywhere near their men.
Listen, there’s the always one major slut on each floor of a Manhattan office building. At my job, we have one; we all know she’s the Slutty McSlutterson and she knows it too, and she knows we all know it. Do I ever see Slutty Mac talking to a girl? Does she go out to lunch with other girls? Does she ever talk about how she’s hanging out with her girlfriends? No, no, and no. That’s because she’s too busy flirting with every guy within a 20-mile radius. That’s just how it is. So how Sex and the City tries to make us believe that these women are like sisters is really the most far-fetched concept of the entire series. Oh, and they never talk shit about each other behind each other’s backs. HA!
In truth, the Sex and the City ladies are successful women who want a high social standing. Therefore, the first dude with money and power that came along, they would have dropped their independent ways to become a piece of arm candy (except for maybe Miranda). There’s evidence of that in Carrie’s relationship with her long-time on-again, off-again beau Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who we see she’s preparing to finally marry in the movie. I can see what she sees in him (ca-ching!), but what in hell does he see in her? There is no way a man like that would have settled down with Carrie.
But apparently, in the film, Big and Carrie finally make their way down the aisle, although for some as-of-yet unknown reason it doesn’t work out. Parker has said that this movie is kind of depressing, and from the many clips from the movie I’ve seen, it looks the story focuses on Carrie’s coping with whatever happened. At one point, Carrie reads Charlotte’s 4-year-old daughter the story of Cinderella, in which, of course, Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after. Carrie then tries to explain — to the 4-year-old — that fairy tale endings don’t always happen in real life. When the child fails to grasp the concept and instead wants to hear the story again, an exasperated Carrie snarks, “Another one bites the dust.” We’ve waited four years to find out that, gee, in real life, you don’t always live happily ever after. Thank goodness we have Sex and the City to tell us that!
Yet, Sex and the City has been feeding us the fairy tale for a decade. To someone like me who’s live and worked in New York her whole life, it’s obvious to me the Sex and the City life is NOT real. Any young woman who thinks they can move to NYC and live the “Sex and the City” lifestyle, please reconsider. Listen, every chick I know says they are going to live the “Sex and the City” lifestyle after a big breakup. Hell, I’ve said it too!!! The truth is, if you move here, you’ll be sharing a one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side with five roommates trying desperately to scrap together enough money for food, so just forget about the designer clothes and shoes. EVERYTHING is expensive and overpriced here, down to the price of a street-cart hot dog. And remember what I said about how in real life Carrie would practically be a crack-whore by now? Well, that’d be your future too if you try to live like her. Please be content to just vicariously through this fictitious character with her equally fictitious lifestyle and scenarios.
But back to the movie … at first I couldn’t see how Sex and the City: The Movie would be any more more than just an extended episode of the television series — which ran too many seasons as it was — but now I’m thinking that an extended episode would have been better! I watched a few of those “catching up” clips that were montages from the TV series, and they were a reminder of the high quality of the show. Then I watched the clips from the movie, and it seems generic, as well as far more cliche than any of the television episodes ever were.
I’m curious to see how the movie will do at the box office and if, in fact, women will flock to the theaters this weekend for it. And if so, will they be disappointed in it or delighted?