The first time I watched Sex and the City, it was at my parents' place with my sisters, who were already fans of the show. At the time, I didn't get the appeal, or how they could stand Sarah Jessica Parker's voice and the lame "musings" that were supposed to constitute Carrie Bradshaw's column. Years later, when the show was being rerun on TBS, I turned it on one Tuesday night and quickly became addicted. I think it was somewhere in the middle of season two, when the show had become wittier and the characters, who had begun as static stereotypes, had developed just enough to be somewhat sympathetic. I also discovered that Cynthia Nixon as Miranda was compelling enough to compensate for Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie. And, like so many women, I fell in love with Steve, the gentle bartender who takes endless abuse from Miranda and keeps coming back for more.
(Warning: Minor movie spoilers ahead.)
I almost never watch movies in theaters, but when the Sex and the City movie came out, I decided to seek out some female friends to see it with, since I knew that DH would never watch it with me on Netflix. After reading this review (e-mailed to me by the very friend I was going to watch it with!), I started to worry that the movie would be two hours of everything I didn't like about Sex and the City and none of the things I did. Fortunately, I was wrong. It certainly was silly, and it had more than its share of cringe-worthy lines (particularly toward the end), but it was also funny -- occasionally hilarious -- and there were lots of great outfits, which is all that any one who's watched the show can reasonably expect.
Still, I'm a graduate student, and it's impossible for me to watch a movie like this without feeling the urge to take it apart. And what's the point of having a blog if not to indulge in this sort of thing? So here goes:
I'm sure I'm not the first to point out that Sex and the City is fundamentally a traditional romance with a veneer of sexual liberation. The "girls" (as they call themselves) are all ultimately looking for a man to settle down with (at least by the end of the series) -- preferably one who can support their shopping habits, which seem to run them several thousand dollars a spree. (It's not clear where all this money is supposed to be coming from at the outset. Miranda supposedly works eighty hours a week at a law firm, but it's hard to figure out when those hours could be to leave room for all the daytime outings and wild nights. The others are total mysteries: Charlotte runs an art gallery until she gets married, Samantha is an event planner-turned-publicist, and before her first book is published Carrie supports herself by writing a weekly sex column -- in Manhattan! It's also not clear how they manage to walk around in those shoes without ending up on crutches -- but I digress.)
The movie, like the series, is totally unapologetic in its promotion of stereotypes. These are mostly related to the women's relentless pursuit of "labels and love," but there are others: the bald lawyer Jew with the vaguely Yiddish accent; the latino womanizer; and of course, the flamboyantly gay men who always show up just long enough to offer fashion tips and comic relief. The movie also introduced a new stereotype in the person of Carrie's "assistant," an updated version of the kindly black maid. At the end of the movie she leaves the "big city" to marry a man of the appropriate race and class (and girth), and everyone lives happily ever.
Sorry if I ruined the surprise.
Anyway, like I said, I enjoyed the movie, and if you liked the series, you probably will, too. If you don't -- or if, like so many of us, you do but are a little bit embarrassed about it -- you may enjoy this: