I confess, I tend to be somewhat of a culture snob. I will often avoid something solely because it is extremely popular. I refuse to read the Harry Potter books or see the films; I skipped The Lord of the Rings films as well (although that has more to do with my dislike of fantasy as a genre in general); and I want absolutely nothing to do with the Twilight franchise. For years, I dodged Sex and the City as well: watching it and enjoying it felt like some sort of feminine cliche. Still, when the first film came out in 2008, I practically had to attend. All my girlfriends were going, and I felt like I would be missing out on important bonding time if I demurred. So I went, and having seen exactly none of the original series, had very little understanding of what was happening onscreen. Still, the film was enjoyable, and I wanted to comprehend more about these women. To make a long story short, I ended up watching the entire series in reruns on TBS and WGN. Several times. You see, I was unemployed, and the reruns ran in a two episode block every night after The Colbert Report on TBS, followed by a third episode on WGN. I was up anyway, so it gradually became my bedtime routine.
Despite my initial disdain for the show's female archetypes, I quickly realized that their experiences spoke to me. I too was single, and living in a big city. As I started delving into the dating pool more seriously, I discovered that the show had been more accurate about contemporary relationships than I would have expected. Although I don't think any woman is truly a Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, or Samantha (our real personalities aren't nearly so clearly delineated), they reflect the hopes, fears, and aspirations of a broad range of women. The show was definitely better than I had given it credit for.
By the time Sex and the City 2 was released last month, I had become a full-fledged SATC fan. In spite of all the negative press and poor reviews surrounding the film, I was determined to see it. As soon as our schedules allowed, I headed out with Lauren to do just that.
Although the reviews were perhaps a smidgen too harsh, they were, unfortunately, largely correct. Sex and the City 2 is like the cotton candy of the cinematic world. There are lots of pretty costumes and shoes to look at, hairstyles to covet, and men to ogle, but in the film's entire two hour and fifteen minute run time, very little seems to happen. Whereas the first film saw Carrie dumped at the altar, only to eventually reunite with Mr. Big, Miranda coping with infidelity and a separation, Charlotte becoming pregnant after struggling for years with infertility, and Samantha leaving her one long-term relationship to focus on herself, in the new film, the women face relatively minor woes. In fact, much of the girls' existential angst is somewhat tone-deaf, given the times. Charlotte has a full-time nanny and yet she's still stressed over the demands of motherhood (poor thing!) and Miranda is saddled with a boss who doesn't respect her (at least she has a job!). Carrie is feeling bored in her marriage, but the worst thing that happens is a lone kiss shared with an old flame, which Mr. Big seems to handle a little too well. I truly felt like there was little to learn from these women's stories this time around. Instead, I felt more like I had watched gay men play with real-life Barbies for nearly three hours, dressing them up and sending them on an ostentatious trip to the Middle East in a vain effort to highlight the liberation of American women.
Overall, I felt that the filmmakers had misread the mood of their audience. They had sought to follow the Depression-era tactic of producing glamorous escapist fare. However, today's audience is craving greater authenticity and relatability in their films. I would probably still go see a Sex and the City 3 if it ever got made, just to get caught up with the lives of the characters I've come to love, but I would prefer to pretend that the current film never happened...