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Sex and the City 2: A TV fan’s perspective

I should start out by saying that although I liked the television series Sex and the City, I am not a die-hard fan. I have not seen every single episode, and I most certainly have not seen them in order. There was one season I was super-familiar with, because a girl I knew when I spent a month in Cape Town had it on DVD and sometimes after a long day working at a fashion magazine where no one likes you a girl just needs to watch some TV that isn’t in Afrikaans. Although I did get hooked on a couple Afrikaans soaps. Anyway. Sex and the City premiered on HBO in 1998, which meant I was 12 years old when it began. So I’ve watched DVDs with friends, caught reruns and grown to appreciate the series as a smart and funny show for women.
That said, I did not like the first Sex and the City movie. I thought it was a mistake. Sometimes it’s best to let a good thing be, even if messing with it will make you oodles of money. When people asked me “Which one are you?” after the movie, I replied “Big”. Because I would have left a woman wearing a bird on her head at the alter as well.

The first movie had some funny moments (some of them unintentional – I laughed when you all cried), but it generally left me cold. The second movie had even more funny moments, but it left me mildly offended and I’m pretty sure that’s worse. Walking out of the movie I tried to keep my opinions to myself (I don’t like being that girl who rains on everyone else’s parade) but when a girlfriend asked me what I thought I responded “I liked the bits that took place in New York”. So let’s look at the movie – spoilers ahead, folks. Although it could save you ten bucks.

We meet up with the ladies two years after the last movie, and everyone is gathering for Standford and Anthony’s wedding in Connecticut, one of only two states in America where same-sex marriage is legal. I actually didn’t mind the whole totally-over-the-top-gay-with-a-capital-G wedding. Sex and the City is over the top, the characters are over the top, and the scene struck me as an “in on the joke”, loving type thing rather than a “This is how we view all gays”, offensive type thing.

So what had happened with the ladies in the two years since we’d seen them? Carrie had turned into a nagging, selfish wife who wanted her 50-something year old husband to hit the town with her instead of hanging out at home after a long day at work. Samantha was hitting the town and hitting menopause, which she was addressing with the Suzanne Somers recommended treatments of hormones, pills, creams, sex and god-knows-what-else. Miranda was dealing with her first-ever sexist boss, and instead of addressing the issue in private she publicly snapped and quit her job – to the delight of her husband, who had suggested she quit her job and help out around more at home (along with Steve’s mom, their full-time help). Charlotte was finding that having two kids was too much to handle, despite the seemingly constant presence of her loving husband and her live-in braless nanny. So that’s where our ladies were – rich and whining about it.

Smith introduced Samantha to a Sheikh from the United Arab Emirates who invited her and her three gal-pals to his hotel in Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid. And this is when the movie went from mediocre to offensive.

In Abu Dhabi, the women were appalled at how their hormones were taken away, how they had to “cover up” their bodies and how local women had to eat their french fries from under their veils. God forbid someone actually show respect for, or an interest in, a culture other than their own. The hotel scenes seemed to so wrongly portray Abu Dhabi that I had to wonder if anyone had even bothered to visit the city before shooting the movie in Morocco. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t most resorts full of scantily-clad Europeans on vacation? Instead we saw Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte sitting around the pool trying to cover up their bodies as they were judged by a bunch of women draped in traditional clothing. And the SATC woman judged right back.

The movie tried so hard to have a message of “female empowerment” but instead came across as judgmental, obnoxious and painfully elite and naive. There was a nice scene between Miranda and Charlotte where Miranda encouraged Charlotte to let down her Leave it to Beaver guard and admit that being a mom can drive you crazy. It was a great scene, until Charlotte squealed “How do mom’s without help do it?” and her and Miranda toasted all the moms who schlep away at motherhood without the luxury of full-time nannies and all-expenses-paid trips to luxury resorts. I’m sure all the moms who were worried about the immense length of the movie because their 15-year-old babysitters (who don’t have a degrees in child life studies) charge double after midnight really appreciated the shout-out.

After Carrie had a self-destructed freak-out where she kissed Aiden and then called Big to tell him, the women found out that Samantha had been arrested for completely disregarding the laws of the country she was visiting. Shocker! Because of Samantha’s lewd public displays of affection, the Sheikh canceled their business meeting and stopped paying for their massive, $22,000/night hotel suite, their four cars and other outrageous expenses. Oh no – the women had to pack up all their couture and leave the hotel that day, or risk flying home IN COACH. Oh. My. God.

After a mini-crisis where Carrie realized she’d left her passport at the shoe stall where she’d originally spotted Aiden, the women further disregarded Middle Eastern customs and basically spit in the face of a culture that differed from their own. Samantha was having hot flashes and insisted in dressing in short-shorts and a tight tank top. Not only was she showing zero respect for the culture of the country she had chosen to visit, she looked like crap. When her purse spilled open and men were offended by all the condoms that fell out, she screamed, swore and made lewd gestures. Apparently I was supposed to chuckle and say “Oh Samantha” but instead I was just disgusted. The ladies were given refuge from those backward, angry men by some local woman who were all donning the Louis Vuitton spring collection under their tradition robes. That does not make them progressive, it makes them wealthy. The ladies escaped Abu Dhabi under the cover of traditional dress and flew back to wonderful, progressive, freedom-loving America. What a happy ending, right?

And, of course, there was zero mess to clean up when they returned. Carrie’s punishment for kissing another man? A giant diamond ring. The repercussions of Miranda quitting her job? Getting a better job at a firm that has outdoor meetings and lets women have voices. The result of Samantha almost getting arrested and losing a potential huge client? She gets to have sex on the beach in the Hamptons without running the risk of arrest. And Charlotte’s struggles with motherhood and marriage? Her hot, braless nanny turned out to be a lesbian so she could keep her full-time help and spend time reading magazines and relaxing in Carrie’s old apartment. Isn’t being rich, privileged and American just peachy?

So here’s the thing: I’m not judging anyone for loving this movie. That’s totally allowed. The clothes were at times fabulous, and at times completely and utterly ridiculous. The hair and shoes were fab. Aiden looked hot. There are plenty of reasons to overlook the offensive stuff and just enjoy the fluffy movie. Hey, I enjoyed Miley Cyrus in “The Last Song” and I don’t claim to be a movie critic. But I am a television fan, and this movie was by no means an extension of the television show I knew and loved. The characters have become caricatures instead of people, the plots have become gimmicky instead of funny, and the themes have become judgmental instead of progressive.

In summary, SATC2 was not the tale of female empowerment it seemed to think it was- in fact, it was exactly the opposite.

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