Sunday, March 29, 2009

ahhh city life

I'm sure most girls and a lot of boys of my generation would be able to sing along with Eva Gabor if they heard the Green Acres theme song. I know that watching that and other city-themed shows when I was a kid convinced me that when I would inevitably leave N. J. for the big city I would live in a fabulous apartment with a sunken living room with a terrific view. The real N.Y. (and Brooklyn) was quite a bit different. It was great, but not like T.V.

I caught the Sex and the City movie on cable and like its heroine frequently does, I felt compelled to pose a question: Do people, especially young people, watching this movie think that this is what life in N.Y. is really like?

I understand that Sex and the City is a fantasy. In the HBO series the unbelievable number of sex partners each of these women had was all in good fun and fulfilled the HBO series sex quotient logarithm. The sense that in real life none of these women would speak to each other, much less be bosom buddies, could be overlooked, as the premise was to follow four tight women friends and compare their differing adventures with sex you-know-where. The obsession with designer labels, especially shoes, could be viewed as an exaggeration of a woman's quest to look good and stay current in our youth-obsessed culture while simultaneously indulging in a love of shopping. In episodic television the annoying factors of the show could be overlooked, because at its core it got something very right: women will tell each other very intimate details about their lives, in fact thrive on the telling. They are also, for the most part, willing listeners. And love to dress up.

Somehow with all the clumsy plotting that core message was severely garbled in the movie version. The four women seemed more ill-suited as friends than ever. Great supporting characters were ditched for no apparent reason. Gratuitous and mostly unpleasant simulated sex was interspersed, not to great effect. Sorry, I REALLY don't want to watch Miranda and her hubby have make-up or any kind of sex. And what happened to the gay male friends? Completely relegated to the sidelines and inexplicably only seen a deux, as if the only two gay men in N.Y. must spend all their time together living vicariously through these chicks and MUST kiss each other on New Year's Eve. Most annoying was the fact that the best supporting character of the whole series, Charlotte's husband Harry, was completely underused.

Probably the saddest thing for me was how at the end of the movie when the forty-something gals take their pal Samantha out to celebrate her big 5-0, all I could think of was the Golden Girls. Somehow the whole woman-power message went missing for me. What do these women have to bestow upon each other? Yes, they are willing to fly one of their group to Mexico and drink margaritas until she cheers up after being jilted. They are willing to be that New Year's or Valentine's date when no man is around. And drink. A lot. They are willing to say stupid things to the male lead and act completely unrealistically to advance the plot.

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against good drinking buddies. I just wish that the "greatest thing" that the heroine Carrie ever did was not buy her assistant a real Louis Vuitton bag. The Jennifer Hudson character of the assistant was the most realistic person in the movie, most like me and all my friends who moved to the big city all those years ago. Too bad her character was only a plot device and not allowed to interact with all the ladies. Maybe she could have made them, and New York, seem a little more real.


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