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Sex and the City 2: It’s Really Not TV.

June 15, 2010

*Such as there is a plot, here be plot spoilers.*

Ok, so Sex and the City. I have an ambiguous relationship with the series, which has given me both pleasure and pain at different times. I hated the first film when I watched it in the cinema, but have grown to find it less intolerable since.  Add to this the hammering the sequel has received in most reviews – ‘ghastly and putrid and vomit-inducing’ a fairly ranting Mark Kermode has called it – and the awful promotional poster (which does make me want to vomit out of every bodily orifice), and my expectations were pretty low as I was getting comfortable in my seat. ‘Give me a shout when it’s worth watching the screen’ my accompanying friend asked me during the objectionable pre-trailer commercials as she was concentrating on her nachos, and I thought, ‘Mmmh, that might be a while.’

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t loathe SatC 2 as much as I thought I would. This is despite the sequel’s lack of any meaningful narrative. Despite the relentless spectacle of consumption. Despite the suggestion that women in Abu Dabi would meet for a book group, where they discuss a fitness guru’s latest books, and wear western designer clothes under their traditional dress; clearly, what women all over the world really want is to wear hideous haute couture and engage in a spot of body disciplining. Clearly. Despite the film’s decision that the only way to make the busty nanny (and the less said about the re-presentation of her body on screen, the better) a non-threat to Charlotte’s marriage is to make her a lesbian. Not that the husband loves his wife and family, or does not find the busty blonde attractive, or that the nanny is not interested in starting an affair with her employer. (Perish the thought!) The range of options and choices presented in and by the film is fairly bleak.

But, really, I didn’t dislike the sequel as much as I thought I would. I think this is because my expectations were so low already, and also because this film to me has virtually nothing to do anymore with the series. It is a standard Hollywood chick-flick (whatever that is) with the prerequisite dodgy class and gender politics, plus characters I vaguely recognise from somewhere else. There were a few interesting moments, such as when Charlotte and Miranda, the two main characters who have children, confess to one another over cocktails that motherhood in itself does not bring them complete fulfilment. I actually found this rather touching, and it reminded me of the most memorable scene in all of Desperate Housewives to date, when Lynette has an emotional breakdown in season one and urges her friends to confess their worries and frustrations to each other.

I think I have simply accepted that with its move to the big screen, SatC has developed away from what the series was originally interested in. It is really interesting to me that a text noted as ‘quality TV’ partly (or precisely) because of its close links to cinema, has changed so much in its transfer to the big screen. It really has become a very different beast. To paraphrase HBO’s (in)famous tagline: It’s Really Not TV.

3 Comments
  1. June 16, 2010 3:40 am

    Somehow I think I enjoyed your post more than I would like this movie.

  2. June 16, 2010 3:47 pm

    Over all of this what’s been interesting to me is the response to the movie, rather than the movie itself. There have been some amusing rips, but what is particularly marked is the strikingly cruel critiques meted out by some (primarily) male critics, leading to the film reviews having a decidedly misogynistic bent as the guardian pointed out . This corresponds with, but amplifies the original critiques of the series itself. The responses to these critiques are producing some thoughtful and interesting cultural criticism, my fave being the always excellent Emily Nussbaum at New York Magazine

  3. Simone Knox permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:26 pm

    Faye, I agree with you; the response to the film is much more interesting than the film itself. I already noticed this with the first film, which received a mixed critical response, with the majority of the negative reviews coming from male reviewers. I was particularly struck by how male reviewers were noting (and critically distancing themselves from) female viewers’ emotional responses when watching the first film. This issue has featured in some of my research, and I would quite like to get back to it in more detail at some point.

    Christopher, many thanks; I will take that as a compliment – somehow I think you would enjoy a poke in the eye with a sharp stick more than you would like this movie ;o)

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