If somehow you’ve managed to get through the late 90s and early 2000s without watching an episode of the TV series Sex and The City, this movie may help you catch up.
The iconic show featured four single women in their thirties and their hilarious and at times uncomfortably graphic conversations about sex and relationships. Aired first in 1998, it was revolutionary as it normalized sex talks amongst women on TV and the lives of main character sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), along with man-eater Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), good girl Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and love cynic Miranda Hobbs (Cynthia Nixon) became a cultural landmark for females across the globe.
Love in Manhattan, as Carrie put it in that first episode, was characterized by the age of un-innocence, where no one had breakfast at Tiffany’s or affairs to remember. Instead, they had breakfast at 7am and affairs they tried to forget as quickly as possible. Carrie reassured us that self-protection and closing the deal were paramount, as Cupid had flown the co-op.
The TV show was a representation of the 90s, that golden decade of Girl Power where women took what they wanted, “what they really, really want”, as the Spice Girls were chanting at the time. Or, as journalist Cosmo Landesman put it recently, “it was a fun-fuelled feminism for the mainstream; a materialistic and hedonistic celebration of female assertiveness, ambition and self-reliance. Girl Power was Thatcherism in sexy underwear”.
Fast forward ten years, and things couldn’t have been more different; 2008 was the year when the world shivered from a global financial crisis likened to the Great Depression of the 30s. Gordon Brown was the UK’s prime minister and, across the pond, Barack Obama was a mere presidential hopeful, which would eventually see him become the first ever black president later that year. Newcomer Adele’s debut album was topping the charts singing about heartache and relationships and Amy Winehouse was still alive.
Match.com and the likes were carving multi-million pound businesses out of lonely hearts desperate to find the one. The fear of facing these depressing times alone pushed some men and women to think that perhaps it was time to settle for second best, rather than face this doomed future alone – or at least that’s what psychotherapist and writer Lori Gottlieb believed when she published her essay “Marry him! The case for settling for Mr Good Enough”, later turned into a book and mercifully criticised left right and centre, calling her pathetic, desperate and sad. And yet, it felt as though Gottlieb’s theory had tapped into a sore spot for women in their 30s and 40s.
Neither Tinder nor Bumble had yet been invented and it felt as though women had lost their confidence, waving goodbye to Carrie Bradshaw to embrace Bridget Jones.
And that’s when Sex and the City: The Movie was premiered in the UK. Despite a bag of mixed reviews, hordes of fans embraced it just as much as the TV series, as it became a commercial success, grossing over $415 million worldwide.
The highly anticipated film literally picked up where it left things off at the end of the series with its happy ending for all the characters. Carrie in the movie finally marries her wealthy, older man who had seemed so unattainable throughout the 94 episodes of the TV series. Or so we are led to believe. But, when it comes to Sex and The City, things are never quite as straight forward as that.
The blockbuster opens with Carrie Bradshaw happily skipping through New York and down memory lane featuring flashbacks from the TV series recapping the previous ten years. We ooohs and aahs as we reminisce on how Charlotte the romantic always looking for the one ended up marrying a not so perfect husband with issues in the bedroom before settling with her divorce lawyer and adopting a baby. We then see Miranda the ever so sceptic lawyer who got pregnant after a one night stand with a bar tender and, after a tumultuous personal journey, realises that she was in love with him all along and ends up walking down the aisle. And Samantha had finally curbed her insatiable sexual appetite and her wild antics when she, too, finds ever lasting love.
Twists and turns, though, are round the corner and we see all our heroines face a two and a half hours roller coaster of a journey. Carrie and co. come face to face with the dark side of betrayal, peppered with hilarious one liners, great performances and a wardrobe to die for.
Sex and The City: The Movie may feel fairly out of date in today’s world yet reassuringly familiar and comforting. Definitely worth watching back, or watching it if you’ve never see it before; put feminism aside and feel free to bask in love and labels.
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