Sex and the City: A Rant

Like many other women, I've been a rabid Sex and the City fan. Years ago, it was shown here in Canada on one of the specialty channels Friday night and rerun Saturday night and I would often watch both. I have most of the series on DVD (except for the two-part 6th season and I'm working on that) and have watched them again… well, you get the point. I’ve watched each episode more than once. The series makes me happy. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me think about love, relationships, girlfriends, our place in the world, great clothes and back to laughing. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are aspects of women personified in four terrific characters and at different points in our lives, we can relate more or less to each of the four and sometimes to all of them at the same time. The actors portraying these characters are wonderful, playing incredibly well off each other and I'll stop gushing now and get to the rant.

Which concerns the movie.

In the past year, I've watched the movie twice, both times somehow without seeing the last 15-20 minutes and both times, I had issues. Having completionist - is too a word – tendencies, it was obviously necessary for me to rent the movie again to could see the ending, but I’ve resisted until it made it to the cheap section in the video store because I was pretty sure I knew how it would end and I hated it. I've finally gotten to the point where I rented it so I could cross it off my list once and for all. So before we get to my quibbles about the ending, let me pick on some of the other things that didn't work (there will be spoilers):

The length of the movie. 145 minutes. Seriously. That's a lot of bloat. Maybe the whole thing would've worked better if they had cut 30 minutes off it.

Charlotte (Kristin Davis) having no storyline to speak of. Davis is a terrific actor, imbuing Charlotte with nuance, humour and heartbreak and seeing her relegated to barely nothing in the movie really stuck in my craw. And that thing with her shitting her pants in Mexico? Not only wasn't funny, it was also a level of mean and humiliating that the series never engaged in.

Jennifer Hudson. I feel like I should elaborate, but there's really nothing else to say. Except I wish she’d get some acting lessons before doing another movie.

Samantha (Kim Cattrall) being reduced to a cartoon character, positively slavering over the naked neighbour (of course, Gilles Marini deserves drooling over which we got the chance to do when he was on last season's Dancing with the Stars where he proved himself to be a natural dancer - if you need a break from the rant, see this, this and this). Somewhat redeemed by the end of the movie, but it doesn’t excuse the previous 120 minutes.

The money. There was always an unspoken agreement between the show and the viewers that although we all knew the clothes were out of the reach of most women's bank account, we all pretended that they weren't, that these women somehow found fabulous designer clothes secondhand or on miraculous sales. It helped you feel as if these women could be your friends, made them relatable, their lifestyle attainable. It was suspension of disbelief, allowing you to easily enter their world, connecting through shared experiences and including the fabulous clothes. In the movie, there's no more suspension of disbelief. In the movie, the women are so obviously rich - not just well off, but rich - and it throws up a barrier to connecting. I am no longer watching four women who could be me and my friends, but four very rich women who live on a completely different level from me, a level I can never attain.

Mr. Big having a name. Granted, they chose a good one, a name that fits, but it's somehow not the same when he's not Big, but John. However, this one is a minor quibble, in large part because he returns to being Big at the end..

And now to the major one. The wedding.

SATC was about friendship between women, not relationships with men. Well, clearly it was about relationships with men, too, but more as plot points than real people. The men were always secondary characters, there to create a response or a situation which would prompt discussion, laughter, bonding and growth in the friendships. SATC was about how men come and go, but friends are the ones who see you through. Girlfriends are your Mr. Right, they are the constant who give you support and love and who are always there for you. I vaguely remember Carrie saying words to that effect in a voiceover after somebody had been dumped yet again and the four women were gathered over food, but can naturally not remember the actual quote… And that's one of the reasons I liked the way the series ended. Sure, despite it being about having your own life instead of being defined by your relationship to man, they all somehow ended up in old-fashioned fairy tale endings with a man, it was still pretty good. Especially because Carrie and Big ended up being together just the way they were. Yes, he did have to come and rescue her in Paris (gack), but after that they were just themselves, living their own lives and their life together on their own terms, reflected in the last sentence of the last voiceover "[b]ut the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.”. And I liked that. It felt authentic and true to the characters’ development throughout the series.

And then they went and ruined it with the wedding. The series ends with Carrie and Big clearly set to live happily ever after just the way they are and all of a sudden we have to rewrite it and make it into an old-fashioned fairy tale again. It's contrived, it felt untrue and dishonest and it felt as if whoever wrote the script for the movie had forgotten everything the series was about, creating a standard Hollywood fantasy romance instead of something that felt very real. As if they were writing to formula instead of writing about real women's lives. Sure, in many ways, the movie ends with everyone back to “themselves,” but why throw the wedding in there at all? In the closet scene, Big says “we were perfectly happy before we decided to live happily ever after” (i.e., get married), so why marry at all, even if it is at City Hall in a no-label dress? They were thisclose to being true to the soul of the show and they bloody go and ruin it! ARGH!!

And now they're making a sequel. And I hate that I'll probably watch that, too and probably end up writing a rant about it…

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