I was prepared to hate the Sex and the City movie.
I already had the beginning of the ranting blog post composed in my head as I purchased my ticket. It had something to do with how I rolled my eyes along with Nate as he described the increase in cosmos he’s been serving at work lately, and his stories of fifty-something New Jersey housewives giggling about “how Carrie” they were. Um, yeah, wearing a big flower brooch doesn’t make you “Carrie.”
I just knew I was going to write about how that movie just sucked the big one and how every critic was right and what a freaking waste of $12 and two hours of my life it was and…
and then, as the opening credits started to roll, I cried.
Don’t tell Nate.
(Don’t tell anyone I know. Because I think it’s supposed to be cool to hate Sex and the City these days.)
Sure, I could talk about the forced plot twists, the dialogue which sounds mostly like it was written by gay men, the fact that no one sleeps in pearls. But then I’d have missed the point entirely.
What people like Nate misunderstand is that the series was not just some annoying show that made thousands of women think that they were ohmygod JUST LIKE Carrie/Miranda/Charlotte/Samantha. Well okay, it was that. But it was more. If you read between the Manolos, it wasn’t about fashion or dating or love or even sex. What it was was a strikingly dimensional homage to the importance of adult female friendships.
And I watched it every single week, every episode, without fail. And I loved it.
It’s hard to remember of course. The years since the series has been off the air, I slowly joined the cynics, forgetting my fondness for the show, the characters, the relationships, the writing before it crossed the line from clever to punny to yeouch. I’ve told myself that it was a moment captured, and that its time had passed, sort of like when you listen to your favorite song from high school for the first time in ages and for the first time, you realize how absolutely terrible it is.
But that’s not what happened at all. Sitting in that theater, the subway rumbling beneath me and my arm elbow-deep in popcorn made me remember exactly what I loved about the show then. More than that, it reminded me what I liked about myself then.
When SATC originally aired, I was a perpetually single writer who wrote a lot about dating. And no, I wasn’t ohmygod JUST LIKE Carrie, but I did have a lot of shoes and no mortgage payment, and I did have my share of one-night-stands with bold-faced names and I certainly could walk into Jeffrey and drop a week’s paycheck on a cashmere tank top without having looked at the price tag first.
And no, I wasn’t ohmygod JUST LIKE Miranda, but as the series was drawing to a close and Miranda the high-powered attorney, was moving to Brooklyn to raise a kid with Steve the bartender, I, the high-powered ad exec, was moving to Brooklyn to raise a kid with Nate the waiter.
Let’s just say there were some similarities. (And they were pointed out to me more frequently than I would have liked.)
New York women loved that show, dammit. It was our show. It was our city. It was our lives, even if it wasn’t really our lives. Even if we’d never ever actually stepped foot onto the cobblestones of the meatpacking district after a velvet-roped party at Spice Market, or even knew what that meant. That’s why the show worked.
I think it’s every city chick’s prerogative to swoon over the Vivienne Westwood dress, identify the shooting locations (Hey! That’s La Focaccia on Bleecker!), recognize the extras, envy SJP’s ability to look awesome in lingerie at 40+, and reminisce about when Patricia Field’s on 8th Street was your favorite shop in high school, where the drag queen sales clerks urged you to try on bondage skirts behind dressing room doors that were neither high enough nor low enough to really afford any privacy.
It’s our prerogative to enjoy the happy ending.
It’s our prerogative to forget what we know about film criticism or relative coolness and just enjoy the ride for a couple of hours.
And I think it’s every out-of-towner’s prerogative to order the fucking cosmopolitans if it makes her happy.