This Thursday sees the cinematic return of The Girls, and the very first reviews are in. They are not awesome. But before you start hating on the film, remember how awesome the show was?
In articulating her disappointment-bordering-on-disgust with the film, The Guardian's Hadley Freeman also launches a nostalgia-inducing defense of the original series, a recalling a time when, perhaps, you weren't totally embarrassed by the fact that you actually liked Sex and the City. After all, she reminds us, the series was actually about four very smart and funny women, three of whom didn't really give a shit about getting married, and was "a far cry from the 'middle-aged women having embarrassing sex with various unsuitable partners' cliche."And yes, the series did have plenty of shoes and shopping and all manners of sex — but it was also balanced out by intelligent writing, unapologetic honesty, and character depth.
But it's easy to forget that now, awash as we are in Sex and the City 2's bubblegum-pink posters and campy trailers and utterly banal storylines — if Carrie's big issue in the sequel is that settling down feels a little, um, settled, then the writers absolutely deserve the stink-eye. Of course, when extending and expanding a franchise the character development too must extend and expand, and I'm long past the disappointment of realizing that SATC's evolution has meant the devolution of what the show originally and implicitly championed (see: Carrie in a giant wedding dress; Steve cheating on Miranda because she works too much). But the fact that the continuation of this saga also comes at the cost of creativity, relying instead on the expected comedic devices and cliches, is an extra twist of the knife (though the first reviews suggest that the Abu Dhabi setting does add an interesting new dimension, be it either feminist confusion or straight-up condescension).
Writer/director Michael Patrick King seems aware that he's dealing out man-scaring lady froth, but at the same time he maintains (as any director would) that his froth is superior to all other froths. "They've lost the comedy in romantic comedies, or they've lost the romantic. Like girls are doofuses and they're sneaking into beauty parlors and dying each other's hair blue," he tells the Wall Street Journal. And to be fair, the women of SATC are indeed far more functional than any other Heigl-ready character out there. But that doesn't make the film any better, or more palatable.
Not that any of this matters: Through pure pre-release marketing alone, the film has dug its matte-manicured claws into women everywhere — and there are enough ladies, young and old, who declare "I'm a Carrie!" (perhaps as a joke, though you suspect that deep down that these fictitious archetypes do help guide their sense of self), to guarantee that the movie will be a hit. This is an audience that is willing to overlook many shortcomings in favor of indulging a fantasy with their imaginary BFFs, and that's what movies like this are about.
And I'll be there, no question about that. But I also stare at car wrecks, love stories about Jonestown, and once spent an entire afternoon watching the Saw movies. A glutton for punishment.
The Death of 'Sex and the City' [Guardian]
Michael Patrick King: 'We Stole From Life' [WSJ]
Can a Straight Man Love 'Sex and the City'? [Daily Beast]
'Sex and the City 2' Review [Variety]
'Sex and the City 2' Review [THR]
Why Women Love 'Sex and the City' [Morgan's Law]