Monday, June 2, 2008

Notably and Expectedly Disappointed: Sex and the City the Movie Edition


I knew going into it that I'd probably come out disappointed. It's one of those things that you can't avoid doing, even though you know the outcome won't be a positive one. Sure I could have refused to go and sat at home, but then I would have wondered and meanwhile heard all of the plot points regurgitated by well meaning, but less than stellar storytellers.

I digress.

The point of this blog isn't about why I went to the movie--it is why I was more disappointed than expected in the movie. Sure, I wasn't happy about them not being able to leave well-enough alone. And sure, I'm sick of the fact that the movie listings lately reads less original than remake or redeux. But even in those times of minimal creativity, I'm not usually so angry afterwards. And I was angry yesterday. (And although the grosses were high, I'm not the only one who felt sour.)

In no particular order other than what comes to mind, here are the problems I had with the SATC movie:

1. The demonization of Miranda
This one really gets me and is probably what left the biggest thorn in my side after the movie. All the others combined could not have done what this did to me. Throughout the series this was a factor, but in the last couple of seasons they managed to throw the typical "working woman" stereotype (too busy for love, different sex drive, etc.) out of the window and start building an actual character. I could not have been more pleased with this. For too long women have had to chose between characters that are career-driven and life-challenged or those who chose life and love over career. The message: inevitably, women cannot have it all. (Of course, there's no correlation for men, because unlike working women, they can, in fact, have it all.)

But of course they had to disavow themselves from the great stuff they've built and just throw Miranda under the bus. Of course she's too busy for sex...she's a working woman (the type with a career traditionally left to men). So her husband cheats on her. Wow. Way to take the easy way out. Instead of discussing the multitude of problems that probably led the couple to that place, Miranda is demonized for things like her pubic hair maintenance and her unwillingness to forgive and forget the transgressions of her husband. Surely, it's her own fault. As the old adage goes, she was asking for it.

Oddly enough this was juxtaposed with a storyline where Carrie (who I've often felt has major character flaws that were never developed or tapped into, probably because SJP became a producer too soon) is left almost at the altar by Mr. Big. Instead of being vilified for taking what her and Big agreed to be a small wedding and making it elegant and posh and somewhat leaving Big out in the process, she is seen as the victim. Granted, I agree that she is the victim and Big was a total dick (though he was coming back in the end), it's interesting to see the differences in the way the broken hearted Carrie is treated compared to the broken hearted Miranda. One is justifiably as stilted as the other, but only one is treated that way. And of course, that's Carrie. Carrie is treated as if she is a sick child and allowed to wallow in her heartache. Miranda is constantly reminded that her husband may have had reasons to cheat (lack of sex, lack of personal grooming, whatever). And of course the woman who takes on the more "feminine" role, Carrie, is allowed to play the victim while the one who feels it necessary to leave her husband for his major transgression, Miranda, is made to feel guilty for standing up for herself. Sad.

Then there's this little gem: on the night of Big and Carrie's rehearsal dinner a flustered and just-confronted Miranda makes an off-handed comment to Big that he and Carrie are crazy for getting married. For some reason, Miranda, the instant Big decides to ditch Carrie,thinks this had something to do with the end result. She tries to tell Carrie, but the saintly-Charlotte stops her. She again tries to tell her months later, but something else stops her. By time she tells her, it's months later. Notwithstanding the fact that this had nothing to do with the fact that Big decided not to marry Carrie, Carrie, like always, flies off the handle and accuses Miranda of lying. And get this--to boot, Carrie's big comeback to Miranda was that she too was lying--she thinks that Miranda should forgive Steve.

Shazam.

Just like that the roles of martyr and criminal are solidified as stereotypes of what women should strive for. If you want a demanding career, you best be willing to forgive your husband's sexual transgressions. On the other hand, if you want a lavish wedding that forgoes the wishes of your significant other, then you are the victim when he decides to bolt.

For a show that was once great at talking about issues that women were once afraid to confront, it has disintigrated into less than a former shell of itself. Instead of being ground-breaking, it's just another romantic-comedy dressed up in progressive-sheep's clothing.

2. The 10-15 pound weight gain representing heartache
Ahhh...Samantha. The last vestige of free-wheeling female sexuality. Of course now, she's shacked up with a long-term relationship and a never-decreasing sex drive. One that often goes unfulfilled. How many great places could they have gone with this storyline?

Though the sky was the limit, they decided the low-road was the quickest. So instead of dealing with the issue head-on, Samantha's sex drive is satiated by food. (Oddly, though this was explained it was never really seen.) And when Samantha comes back to the City for a visit, the smallest sign of anything other than a tight set of abs is seen as a "gut". (I'm not using the word to be folksy, it's the one they use.) Notwithstanding the fact that the *maybe* ten pounds she put on is far from fat, the whole storyline is wrought with the type of blather you see in Cosmo magazine. When a woman is unsatisfied in bed, of course she must be satisfied at the fridge.

What crap.

The sad part isn't the fact that they play the body image card (I'm not even going to go there), the fact is that they had an opportunity to really develop what happens to a woman who is sexually unsatisfied and they went for the easiest route. Make her eat to compensate. Not only that--make her eat and shop. That's how women cope, right?

And what about trying to salvage a long-term relationship? Not until Samantha decided to leave Smith did she talk to him. Instead, she just sat in her hot tub, spied on her neighbor, allegedly ate a lot of food, and went shopping. Great example. Just great.

3. The lack of originality
Didn't we do these stories before? I mean, I feel as if maybe I'm taking crazy pills here, but nothing was new.

Big is unable to commit to Carrie in a traditional way
Miranda's career is too big for her life to leave room for a relationship
Samantha has an insatiable sex drive and can't commit (not to mention the eating as a replacement for sex was done by Miranda seasons ago)

blah blah blah blah

And the saddest thing, I think, is that they really could have developed Charlotte's fears based on her "having it all" now, but instead they made it a footnote to the movie...as if once you have that happy family, nothing can get in the way. Though Carrie warns Charlotte's daughter Lilly that fairytales rarely happen, how would she know with the life her mother leads?

4. The predictability factor
Did anyone think for a moment that Big and Carrie wouldn't get back together. And for that matter, did anyone think for a moment that Big and Carrie wouldn't break up over some wedding issue and then get back together? For the main storyline, this sure was a sad excuse for a plot.

All in all the movie is a shell of the show's former self. Not only does it raise questions that it can't possibly answer in a movie-form, but it neglects to mention that the questions even exist. It touches on the fact that relationships take time and effort, but rarely does it put any of that effort into the relationships its viewers have with the characters. These women, who used to have careers and lives, have turned into skeletons of women-past--women that were brazen and bold as the day was long and who, episode after episode, presented us with at least one truth that we may confront in ourselves. The movie doesn't even come close to presenting us with a question that we may answer.

Instead of developing the issues it presents, the movie brushes them under the rug in the hope of a happy ending. What I think disappoints me the most is this: The difference between the happy ending in the show and the "happy" ending in the movie is that the characters we were presented with in the show earned a happy ending. The ones we saw on the big screen this weekend, have broken our trust.

And as Carrie famously said at the series' close, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of all.

Too bad that Carrie wasn't consulted about the film.

1 Comment:

ceylincohomes said...

I like manly men. If a man told me he knew the ins and outs of Sex and the City I would punch him in the face before running in the opposite direction from his candy ass.
i stl Movie here
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