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May. 22 2010 - 10:00 am | 2,493 views | 0 recommendations | 24 comments

Four things I already hate about ‘Sex and the City 2′ (Spoiler alert!)

sex and the city 2

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I have a love/hate relationship with Sex and the City. Loved the show. Hated the movie.

Despite the opinion of a few fellow members of the True/Slant community that Sex and the City is largely responsible for the continuing decline of Western civilization, I still think that the series was a high point in late ’90s/early ’00s TV entertainment.

So why did I dislike the first movie so much? It has nothing to do with the actresses being too old for the antics, a point of view that strikes me as incredibly sexist, or the fact that the series, and thus, by extension, the movie, painted an unrealistic social and economic portrait of life in New York City. Unreal NYC doesn’t exist only in Sex and the City reruns; it’s also in Friends and Will & Grace as well as movies like The Brave One and The Day After Tomorrow, films that present such a frightening and menacing Big Apple, where deadly dangers — including impossibly bad weather — lurk around every corner, that it’s a wonder anyone still wants to live there.

Or to use another example, is Grey’s Anatomy an accurate depiction of what goes on in medical circles? Anyone who has a fear of hospitals and would thus risk life and limbs to avoid checking into one would probably be even less likely to seek medical treatment after watching Grey’s ultra-violent May 20 season finale. Does that make Grey’s Anatomy socially irresponsible, or simply drama that alters reality for the sake of entertaining?

My problem with Sex and the City, the movie, had nothing to do with social context but rather was all about plot and story specifics. For one, marriage and babies is never a recipe for urban excitement. Also, by moving too much of the action outside of the titular “City,” it downgraded the all-important fifth character, New York City — a large part of what made the series so special — to the level of glorified cameo. I understand that the focus was supposed to be on the friendships between the four ladies, but I can think of few things I’d rather see less than a movie celebrating female friendship (sorry, ladies).

Bring on the booze. Bring on the nightlife. Bring on the sex. Bring on those eccentric peripheral characters. But please, no Jennifer Hudson.

Despite my excitement for Sex and the City 2, which opens May 27, my hopes have never been high for it, and after hearing a full report from a writer friend who saw a Thursday screening — “It’s EXACTLY what you’d think. I’d give it 2 1/4 stars” — they’ve been lowered dramatically. Here’s why.

Carrie Bradshaw’s still being Carrie Bradshaw Charlotte York was always my least favorite of the fabulous four, followed by Carrie. My biggest problem with Carrie is that she’s too self-involved (remember the scene in the series in which Stanford Blatch let Carrie have it after she glossed over his request for an opinion of his hunky new boyfriend because she was so wrapped up in her own shit?), which might dead accurately reflect classic NYC narcissism, but that doesn’t make it likable. “Don’t even get me started with the idiocy of Carrie’s behavior,” my friend says. “She is 44 going on 13. Tragically, she still looks 44.”

The return of Aidan Shaw “I liked seeing Carrie and Aidan together,” says my friend. “They still have an interesting dynamic. Big had a little more to do here, too, which I didn’t mind.” Hmm… More Mr. Big sounds promising, but Aidan never clicked with me. He always struck me as the kind of clichéd guy’s guy who makes fun of chick flicks and shows like Sex and the City. Plus, unlike Big, the only guy who never tried to change Carrie, he was always trying to turn her into something she wasn’t. I’ll take him over Burger or the Russian guy any day, but I’d prefer Carrie’s romantic focus to remain squarely on Big.

Bad musical numbers and other assorted hokey goings on Check this out: “There are some scenes where I covered my eyes and wailed ‘Noooo!’ A scene in which all four women karaoke to ‘I Am Woman’ in the Middle East comes to mind. As does the scene in which four Middle Eastern women take off their robes/black cloak things and reveal to the girls that they’re actually wearing couture. And then they all take out Suzanne Somers’ book about how to stay young forever. You just won’t believe it. The puns belong in the Catskills and all land with a thud.” I’m already reaching for the barf bag.

Penelope Cruz Unlike the rest of the world, I don’t understand her appeal. Neither does my friend. But she does give Cruz’s SATC 2 cameo a positive spin: “Penelope plays an investment banker who flirts with Big in front of Carrie at Smith’s movie premiere. Just two minutes on screen, and she looks gorgeous. It’s a good scene. Trust me.”

I do (our taste in movies is scarily in sync — we both favored Up in the Air in 2009, Sideways and Before Sunset in 2004), and I’ll still go to see the movie with a twinge of excitement, thanks to my friend’s parting words. “The best news of all: No Jennifer Hudson!!!”


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  1. collapse expand

    Mr. Helligar,

    There is only one thing I hate about Sex in the City, everything. I remember watching the very first episode on the very first night it was on and thinking “Ah..a show about mannequins form outer space”. It was not a show about human beings, it was really just “fashion porn”, a venue for showing all of thing the viewer cannot possible have or do.

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      Does that mean you only like shows featuring poor to middle-class characters leading lives that are easy attainable by the masses?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        Yes, totally. I hate phony class warfare ( I like the real thing though, to some extent). When people constantly harp on Wes Anderson for doing nothing but movies about rich people, I feel like, who is he supposed to do movies about exactly? If he made quirky, bittersweet comedramas about ghetto life we’d just call him condescending. I’m not personally into SatC, but it’s never bugged me that most people aren’t Manhattanites with huge shoe budgets…Would a show about the adventurous sex lives of three Iowa farmgirls have been riveting? Well, maybe, but who cares?

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Hello suckafree,

          An interesting observation on social standing but no one raised that issue. Mr. Helligar’s piece does raise it and neither did I. Mr. Helligar’s response to my comment was not really appropos. I did not complain about the show because of the characters being wealthy or fashionable. I complained that the stories and characters are boring. The same characters and stories set in a trailer park in West Virginia would have been just as dull. The reason the characters and stories are dull is because of they are merely vehicles for fashion trends. The show is basically a fashion show with some excuse for a plot, “fashion porn”.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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            I guess I must have misinterpreted the following: “…a venue for showing all of thing the viewer cannot possible have or do.” At any rate, you and I must have watched different shows. SATC the series was more than “fashion porn” (not that there’s anything wrong with fashion porn). I take it from your screen name that you are L.A.-based. Well, I lived in NYC for 15 years, and despite the stretching of reality and the cartoonish goings on on SATC, a lot of what the show put out there was on point.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Agreed! It drives me crazy. I would much rather watch the economic fantasyland of a newspaper columnist with an apartment the size of Carrie’s and a closet full of designer shoes than watch her struggle to scrounge up cab fare. One of my least favorite episodes was the one where she had to buy her apartment or be forced to move out. I’ve got my own money woes. I don’t want to spend my escapist time going through someone else’s.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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        Mr. Helligar,

        *Interesting* shows about human beings of any social standing are what I like to watch. An excellent counter-example is “The Devil Wears Prada” which while in very much same social milieu, offers human beings who happen to work in the fashion industry of NY. We see a bit into what makes a these people tick, who they are beneath their fancy duds. Their rarefied social circumstances are avenues into their souls, not a substitute for them.

        SITC merely offers dull stories and characters contrived to allow fashion trends to be displayed. TDWP uses fashion to show us interesting characters and stories.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Hmm… Having worked in the New York magazine industry for 15 years, I can tell you that the characters in “The Devil Wears Prada” were as much cartoons as any on “SATC.” I don’t know how much “SATC” you have experienced, but I relate to a character like Miranda and many of my female friends relate to her — a high-powered lawyer dating a waiter and all the problems his inferiority complex brings to the relationship — much more than Emily Blunt’s totally one-dimensional “Prada” bitch. Loved the movie, though.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    I haven’t watched the show or the movies, but just reading about them makes me embarrassed to be female.

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      Don’t worry, everyone knows that SATC was really a show about gay men played by women.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        God bless you, Jeremy. I’ve been saying that for years — “SATC” the series was a fantastic drag show in many ways, and I loved it, even when I thought it was insane. It did have something to say — sometimes profound, sometimes silly — but eminently watchable. I agree with you that the movie was pointless (that hasn’t stopped me from catching it at least 10 of the 20,000 times it’s aired on cable, but that’s my weird pathology), and I think a huge part of it was the discipline required to make a 30-minute show. Somehow the corny jokes and Carrie’s sort of obvious puns worked in that format. In the two-plus hour version, it just makes me think of that scene in “Austin Powers” where they laugh the evil laugh for a minute and then have nowhere to go. Will I see this one in the theater? Probably. But alone at a matinee.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          That is such a good point, Lisa, about it being perfect for a 30-minute show but not a two-hour movie. I said the same thing recently in a conversation with someone. One of my favorite episodes was the one with Nathan Lane where Carrie’s voice over says at the end, “Some are settling, some are settling down, and some hold out for butterflies.” Those who dismiss the show as being utter fast food must have been watching a different show than I was.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Hello cphocker,

      There is no need to be embarrassed, the show is actually put together by men.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Mr. Helligar,

    I never claimed that TDWP is was “realistic” in terms of the fashion industry, or NYC for that matter, only that the characters and plot were interesting. I thought that the first season of “The Sopranos” was the greatest single season of TV drama ever even though I have never been to NJ or know any gangsters. I love “The Wizard of Oz” but I do not love it because of, or in spite of its “realism” (or lack thereof).

    Similarly, the popularity of show does not interest me per se. Clearly many people like the show but that does not mean I have to like, nor does it mean I have to dislike it.

    My critique of the show in regards to it being “…a venue for showing all of thing the viewer cannot possible have or do” is that that is all it seems to offer. Many people like that sort of show, “Life Styles of the Rich and Famous” with the loudest and most appropriately named host – Robin Leach – was very popular for many years. It just so happens I do not like that sort of show. If the show had offered that plus interesting characters and plots, well we might have had a different conversation.

  4. collapse expand

    Well, speaking about myself (and I know it’s not about me, but “embarrassment” keeps being referred back to) I meant that I’m embarrassed to share the same label (“female”) with any of these characters (almost as much so, Norah Ephron.) I’m probably not much like your female friends (highly intelligent – it’s been said “yes,” and I’d bet even more so than your female friends; successful – that would depend on the subjective definition) but there are a whole lot of us out there who aren’t shoe-shoppin’, closet-stuffin’, $3,000-purse-buyin’ fools. (It’s not for lack of $3,000, either – I buy stock like others plunk down their credit card at the makeup counter to try a new shade of lipstick that they will then forget is even in their $3,000 purse before they go out to lunch.) By the way, it doesn’t have to do with “social standing,” either. I’ve seen people broke as a spoke with the purse collections the size of my (granted, not exactly high-roller-dimension) stock portfolio gathering dust neatly in rows in their closet. Some of use are just ninny-witted shiny-stuff gatherers and some are not – and I guess I have to realize that sharing the label affixed to half the human race is not something I should take personally (I was being tongue-in-cheek, if you haven’t realized it yet, about being embarrassed to be called female. Then again, regarding the prospect of Norah Ephron being assumed to speak for me – then maybe yes.)

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      Not that this has anything to do with what we’ve been discussing, but yes, I do believe that minimalism is the way to go, both in interior design and in possessions. Stay out of those stores and keep buying that stock. It’ll come in much handier than Manolo Blahniks in the future!

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        Thanks; if I can keep from losing them in the next dozen market crashes, stock will hold up better than fancy shoes and whatnot. Shouldn’t have been bitchy about your friends; sorry – they’re probably smarter than me. I’m just a fishhead-sneaker kind of gal and I’m using my most expensive handbag yet which is leather and awesome, crafted like a small knapsack and came from Target and cost $36 (and I think wow – that’s the cost of one fractional share I don’t really want to sell – do I really want to spend that much on a purse?) Hardy harr….

        We all have our guilty pleasures. No one better start criticizing “Desperate Housewives” – well, unless you want to criticize it along with me. But with all its fakery and every ridiculous aspect of it – (there is next to nothing “real” about it, thus the fun) I can’t miss an episode and my husband – he’s so hooked that he needs to be medicated when the TIVO screwed up and didn’t catch it!

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Mr. Helligar,

    Allow me to illustrate my point with a concrete example. In the first movie the character Miranda Hobbes is married to a man and has a child. She is so wrapped up in work and child rearing that she does not have time for sex with her husband (which sets up a sub-plot important to the overall story). However, as soon as Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding is a bust and she flies off to Mexico to recover, Miranda drops everything without a thought and joins her for a week or so at a fabulous resort. Now, this either makes the Miranda character a ravingly liar / hypocrite, which I am sure was not the intent of the screen writer, or Miranda’s story and character make no sense whatsoever. Many people were obviously unconcerned with this bit of incongruity as it allowed the characters to lounge about in a stunning and glamorous foreign locale. If that works for the viewer, then fine, it does, but it does not for me.

    The acid test for me for just about any movie is this, could you reset the same characters and story in a trailer park in West Virginia and make it work. In the case of SITC, I suspect not. I am guessing that once one has stripped the clothing, housing, fine cuisine, location shots, &c, there is not enough story or character left to entertain anyone. In contrast, TDWP could indeed be re-set in some trailer park and it would actually be funnier. In TDWP Miranda Priestly is has sold her soul to be the queen of the NYC fashion world (the plot revolves around whether her new protégé Andy Sachs will follow her lead or not). Now at least she got a pretty good deal for her soul, Miranda does indeed have some pretty impressive success by just about anyone’s standards. Now imagine instead that Miranda is the fashion queen of Deliverance, West Virginia with all of the same insufferable self-importance and denigrating tyranny but without the obviousness of her success. The contrast between her image of herself and her reality would very funny, and insightful.

    I had almost exactly the same conversation with another T/S correspondent, Mr. DiSalvo. We were discussing Tom Hanks / Steven Spielberg mini-series “The Pacific”. I thought it was just “war porn”, no one would watch except it involved really well staged and photographed images men killing and being killed. The story was really just a vehicle to move the viewer from one horrific scene of bloodshed to another. The story does not hold much interest in its own right.

    I am not against pornography per se but I would not want to pay ten dollars to sit through two hours of it. It seems to me, that if one watches more than 15 minutes of it, one has missed the entire point of the pornography.

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      David, you’re preaching to the choir here. I hated the first Sex & the City movie, as I pointed out in my post, and I thought taking most of it out of NYC was a huge mistake. However, of all the characters, for me, Miranda rang more true to life than any of the others. (Maybe it was that she represented “fashion porn” less than the others.) I don’t know how much of the series you’ve seen, and I won’t bother to list examples here, but she had tons of excellent, realistic, true-to-life, nicely acted moments, and the actress won a well-deserved Emmy for the final season.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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