From intellect to insipidity – a tale of Sex and the City

Posted in Writing.

*Contains a few spoilers – some of the film and some of the fuzzy place in your heart reserved for Sex and the City. Sorry about that. 

Let me set the scene. It was 2001. I was 15, channel hopping with the TV on mute way past my bedtime. As I flicked, I saw the flash of blonde curls, pink chiffon and those high, high heels. The things that defined Carrie in season 1 of Sex and the City were the things that made me stop at channel 4 and watch. And watch, and watch.

And so began my relationship with a TV programme that changed the way women were portrayed on screen. The language, the clothing, the sex – never had TV depicted so explicitly, or so deeply, the lives of four female friends. Everything else seemed vapid in comparison.

As I grew up, Sex and the City became ritualistic in my life. From clandestine viewings late at night aged 15 to screams over Samantha’s sex scenes (remember the armchair?) with a gaggle of girls in a uni houseshare, to an essay carefully crafted in my final year, exploring the new feminism the show promoted. Apparently, you didn’t have to burn your bra to celebrate your femaleness. You could buy designer shoes, have a successful career and an even more successful sex life.

When the first film was released, four girlfriends dressed as their favourite characters (the selfish, style-obsessed Carrie was the one I related to most) and enjoyed two hours of pure, unadulterated indulgence. Yes, it didn’t quite live up to the TV show, and no, it wasn’t the best film ever made, but it was fun. It was true to the show, true to the characters and true to the fans. We loved it, and sipping Cosmos afterwards we agreed it was the perfect end to our time as SATC fangirls. We’d still watch the boxset, huddled around a bottle of rosรฉ in our pyjamas, but the heyday was over.

So when a second film was announced, I was dubious. The characters seemed rounded, the story lines complete, the ending satisfying. Why risk ruining that? Of course, there’s no way I’d miss it. So despite the hideous reviews which really did break my heart, I went along. A quick outfit pic first…

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Dressed to kill and excited despite a foreboding feeling of dread, we trotted off to the cinema, Ben & Jerry’s in hand, expectations piqued.

I can’t tell you how gutted I was by the end.

First of all, Sex and the City isn’t Sex and the City without New York. The girls travel to Abu Dhabi, which is, of course, a city. But it’s not the city. The show is so intrinsically linked to New York it’s hard to sustain that comfortable familiarity, the thing that makes you feel like you know Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda, without it as a backdrop. Also, it would appear that the Abu Dhabi heat addled stylist Patricia Field’s brain.

The portrayal of these American girls in a far-off land so exotic even magic carpets are a possibility had me cringing in my seat. From Carrie’s all-out mockery of a woman in a veil eating French Fries to Samantha’s menopause-induced cleavage-bearing breakdown (which I’m sure many menopausal women watched with open-mouthed shock) – this was a roller coaster ride through bad stereotyping.

There were some bits I liked. I saw flashes of the original show when Miranda and Charlotte discussed motherhood over cocktails. Carrie’s quip when stuck between a crying baby and Samantha’s sexploits (Big: “I don’t know which is worse” Carrie: “Samantha. The baby will tire eventually.”) and the opening scenes of our favourite city, set to Alicia Key’s Empire State of Mind.

Unfortunately, moments like these were few and far between. Two gay characters who have always hated each other getting married, Carrie’s unrivalled selfishness that not even her vast array of maxi dresses could distract from and Samantha’s desperate attempts to prove ‘she’s still got it’, combined with a distinct lack of screen time for Miranda (who, as ‘the funny one’, always had the best lines) and fashion not even I could get on board with (The J’adore Dior outfit for walking round a baking souk? An arabic woman wearing an orange feathered waistcoat under her robes?), dug this film’s grave.

I suppose I shouldn’t have expected more after John Corbett, who plays Aiden, was quoted saying Sex and the City is about shoes and dresses and fashion*. Yes, it is about shoes and dresses and fashion. But it’s also about love and friendship and independence, and those things helped take the show and first film from the frothy, flippant space occupied by 90210 to somewhere smart and clever and touching.

As a lifelong (real life begins at 15) fan of Sex and the City, as a girl who can quote so many lines, as a fashionista who bought those neon striped Red or Dead heels after Carrie wore the Manolo originals and as a woman who cites Carrie Bradshaw as a real inspiration to her writing career, I’m sad to say this is one relationship that’s turned toxic.

As the girls would say – “it’s not me, it’s you.”

*I can’t find the original quote anywhere. If anyone knows where it is, please point me in the right direction! ๐Ÿ™‚

38 Comments

heartshapedbruise.

This has got to be the most real & honest review of this film I’ve read so far (& there seems to have been a lot this weekend!)

I’m sorry the relationship’s turned toxic – but I’m glad you didn’t let your loyalty to the show make you see the film through rose-tinted glasses.

I’ll probably watch it when it comes out on DVD, just so I don’t feel like I’ve missed out..

http://www.heart-shaped-bruise.blogspot.com

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Alice

I know exactly which Red or Dead shoes you are talking about! I also loved the sequin print ones, if you remember them ๐Ÿ™‚
I’m sad to hear this about the film, although I haven’t seen the film yet, I think nothing can quite compare to the series.

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Em x

Thats a fab review. One of my friends went to see the film and siad similar things, its a shame they didn’t leave it in a good place x

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Sarah

I’ve had to skip most of this post as I’m going to try and get my sister to come and see this with me very soon but I love those shoes you’ve got on! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Audrey Allure

i agree, i felt that the first movie was a lot better compared to this one. it would’ve been nice to see them in new york city.

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Chloe, Butterfly Cupcakes

I love the outfit you wore, that dress is so pretty. I have to say when I heard about the story plot of the second sex and the city I wasn’t too interested in it, it sounds like their just repeating the first movie. dissapointing you didn’t like it too much. I guess I will have to judge myself though as I still want to see it none the less.

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Rhamnousia

What a well written post..I never saw the attraction with SATC myself but I can see why fashionistas loved it so.

Do you think it has changed your memory of SATC? Quite a few women at work love it and have said that SATC2 has tainted the good memories they had of the series and the first film.

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Style of a Fashionista

Great review and a totally fab outfit you look amazing and you certainly are dressed to kill.

My friend was not impressed either and he pretty much said the same as you he too was not impressed with want went on in Abu Dhabi xoxo

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luna pie

Hi ~ I’m a new follower of your blog, and I just want to say, I am lovin’ how you piece things together! ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to seeing more!

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L

Brilliant review lovely, I completely agree. I have always been an avid fan but this has put a bit of a damper on it.
L x

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Claire

You got the dress I have! Love how you’ve styled it up, it looks lovely!

I went to see the it the other day. I didn’t come away disappointed, as I really enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was a patch on the first one, and I can see why people feel that way as parts were quite poor!

Hope you are well
xx

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Cafe Fashionista

Oh Jen, you look simply picture perfect to see “Sex and the City 2.” Though I haven’t seen the film yet myself; I can’t help but to agree with you on the NYC front…without New York City, it can’t possibly be the same. Such a shame that they removed the ladies from their typical stomping ground! ๐Ÿ™

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Harriet

Aww, I’m sad to say this is what I kind of expected… Like most women I adored watching the boxsets with my girlfriends, but I think they should have left well enough alone.

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Vintage Vixen

Such a beautiful dress and accessorised to perfection, Jen!
SATC – Never saw the appeal – why watch women my age shopping, shagging and stuffing their faces when I can be out there doing it for real? Give me a war film any day of the week!
Vix
xxx

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Leah

I’ve heard and read a lot of bad reviews but I really love your take on the movie… it’s like a girl’s shattered dreams and expectations. I haven’t watched the movie yet, I will tomorrow. I will view it with an open mind (I hope) despite the negative reviews.

On a positive note, I really love your dress. xoxo

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Rogue

Adore the dress! :O I need to read thsi post back properly because Im very new to the whole sex and the city thing – and Im in a rush just now but I just wanted to say I AM SOOO pleased with the site ๐Ÿ™‚ It looks amazing, your man did a brilliant job! Really appreciate it so much. Haha and that call via ichat where he controlled my macbook was so strange :S I had no idea you could do that kinda thing over the internet! Im glad you had a peek at my work and liked it ๐Ÿ™‚ just in time for my grad show which starts tomorow, il be back to normal blogging soon ๐Ÿ™‚ much love! x

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Shhh

I agree with you. The wedding bit was funny to me because they kept calling it a gay wedding, talking about why it was a gay wedding, etc., and my friend who I was sitting next to got married yesterday and her new surname is Gay, so I got to give her a few digs in the ribs over that. That alone made it worth it to me.

Some bits that annoyed me were the ridiculous Liza Minelli singing Beyonce thing (is she getting a bit skint?), seeing Aiden with no mention of his dog Pete (he wouldn’t have left that dog behind while he travelled, he loved it!), and the message that kissing someone who you shouldn’t gets you a massive black diamond ring. I mean, what?! Oh, and the explanation at the end that Charlotte no longer worried about her husband and the nanny, because the nanny is a lesbian – so she doesn’t need to worry that her husband may have feelings for her? Lesbian or not, her husband can still fancy her, and that’s still going to be a problem.

Oh, and the outfits they wore to go camel riding – WHAT?

(Can I ask you where your dress was from? It’s gorgeous!)

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Sherin

I think I must be the only person who’s not seen anything to do with SATC. It’s just not my type of thing. I do love your dress though. The pattern is great.

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Katie

I’m genuinely torn now – I just heard Mark Kermode deliver the most bilious, spitting and scathing, angry rant about this movie that I’ve ever heard from him. But he’s not a SATC man, he’s an arty film critic, I expected as much from him. To have a genuine fan say more or less the same (albeit with more insight into the fashion and a greater understanding of the characters) makes me very, very sad. Is it worth seeing anyway? Or am I better off getting my mates over to watch the box set and relive the good times?

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Tuesday

I dressed up for the movie too!

Since I am SATC fanatic, I didn’t care no matter how bad the review is, admittedly I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one, not so much of the fashion but more on middle east culture, etc. I didn’t appreciate the shoot location however I’d still love the 4 fabulous women!

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Vicki

Hey my dear, firstly I LOVE your dress!! secondly i only read two thirds of this post cos i aint seen the film yet and plan too even thou ive heard bad reviews. But i know ill be disappointed. Why oh why did they take the film out of the city! bad bad idea.. Ill report back when ive seen the film and read your review in full ๐Ÿ™‚ x

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closet365

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but from everything I’ve seen on the previews you’ve described exactly what I’m fearing. How sad that they couldn’t just leave it be after the first movie.

That said, I will probably go see it, just for the fashion.

Your outfit is fabulous, though! At least you looked super chic and cute even if the movie was a flop.

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Sher

It seems everyone has seen the movie but me! But I only wanna watch it previously for the outfits, so I guess I’m still gonna go through it once:P

You look great, love the pairing of tough blazer and girlie dress:)

xx

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Kel

Gorgeous outfit Jen, love the lippie.

I haven’t seen the film but had to read the review. Like you I remember watching the telly with my mouth wide open in shock at Samantha, drooling over shoes, etc. So this is going to disappoint me. ๐Ÿ™

Shame isn’t it. Really good review though.

X x

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The Owl Diary

love this review. admittedly, i’ve never seen an entire episode of sex & the city, but i did see the first film & quite enjoyed it. but i wasn’t really wanting to see the second. so thanks for the review. xx

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veronika, tick tock vintage.

i felt the exact same way. parts of the movie were so poorly written and so contrived that i really did cringe while watching. yeah, a couple of the samantha jokes were pretty funny – but other than that, i felt like i wasted $11.

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Meghan

I couldn’t agree more with your review. As soon as they started flashing to scenes of NYC set to Alicia Keys, I just KNEW it was out of guilt for the rest of the film. I mentioned to my friends that I just didn’t feel emotionally invested in the second film the way I did the first – and every other episode of the show. It was way over the top and a huge disappointment.

Except for Liza and her rendition of “Single Ladies…” ha:)

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Anonymous

You spelt ‘Manolo’ WRONG!!!

The shame……. call yourself a fan!

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Lou

I’m too young to really remember SATC the first time round – but I simply love it. Just been to see them film. It did have its moments, but I think the plot was very thin, I didn’t really see the point! I agree about the outfits – too many layers to be wearing whilst on a camel…

I thought they wrapped everything up beautifully at the end of the first film, it’s a shame this one lacked a purpose…
However, I adore this outfit, where is the dress from?!

Lou x craftyandquirky.blogspot.com

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