First, some points of order.
Yes, I am a fan of Sex And The City. Yes, I am a guy.
No, I am not a fashion designer, an event planner, or an interior decorator. No, I cannot tell an expensive women’s shoe from an inexpensive one. (As for dresses, if Sarah Jessica Parker suddenly appears dressed as a hibiscus or a Venetian gondola, I assume she is wearing an expensive dress. Otherwise, I can’t tell.)
I should also say that I have not seen the recent Sex And The City 2. I am the father of a seven-year-old and a ten-year-old, so it’s been quite some time since I’ve been in a movie theater watching a movie that didn’t feature a mythic creature, a superhero and/or a talking animal. I’ll see Sex And The City 2 the way I see every movie—on DVD, at night, after the kids have gone to sleep.
I have, however, seen every TV episode of the HBO series at least once, plus the first movie. I’ll sometimes linger over an episode on TBS, remote in hand, for a good ten or fifteen minutes, even though I know all the boobs and bad words have been edited out.
Most guys have no opinion whatsoever about Sex And The City. It’s a girls’ thing—like horoscopes or scrapbooking—that resists scrutiny. The few guys who do have an opinion have some general sense that it’s a show about self-involved chicks who care only for shoes, gossip, and makeovers. These guys couldn’t be more wrong.
The show, instead, is centered around the firmly held belief that there is no failing or shortcoming, no physical or emotional defect, that will necessarily prevent a guy from meeting, charming, and fucking beautiful, prosperous single chicks in Manhattan.
I mean, you name it, it’s not a deal-breaker. Impotence? No, you’re good. Sociopathic tendencies? Don’t sweat it, chief. Commitment-phobic loner with a closet full of spanking videos? Pull up a chair, mon frere. Miniscule penis? Get on board, fella. Do you wear a diaper? Have repellent body odor? Read nothing but comic books? Eligible bachelor in Aisle 5! Are you, in fact, gay? Hey, we can look past that!
I never lived in Manhattan, though I worked in midtown for about eight years, from the late ’80s through the early ’90s. I worked in a series of advertising departments, so peculiar and offbeat people were not in short supply. For the most part, they (okay … okay, we) weren’t getting any action. For guys, generally speaking, if your psychic landscape was a forest of red flags, if you needed an offsite storage facility for all your emotional baggage, you spent a lot of Saturday nights picking up Chinese food, listening to Joy Division records, and griping with other guys about stuck-up chicks. We always felt like we’d be getting more action if we lived and/or worked some place less competitive. Like Omaha or Birmingham or the Island of Misfit Toys.
Not so, in Sex And The City. In the show’s Bizarro World Manhattan, every guy is getting play. Of the four main characters, only Carrie Bradshaw has a dating life that somewhat resembles those of the women I knew in Manhattan. Carrie enters into one formal relationship after another with sullen, emotionally withholding “men about town” types, doesn’t expect much commitment-wise, and doesn’t get it. This was the default setting for many attractive women in the city; they were always in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere and they weren’t ready to do anything rash about it.
Samantha doesn’t really count, either, because she’s more of a comic rimshot than an actual person. I’ve encountered a couple of “sexually adventurous” women in the Samantha mold, but they’re always batshit crazy. The slutty lifestyle is a lot more stressful than it looks on TV. And women of Samantha’s type never have any women friends, for obvious reasons.
Miranda (suspicious, worldly, bitter) and Charlotte (wide-eyed, naïve, romantic) bear the brunt of all the over-the-top relationship shenanigans in Sex And The City. In Bizarro Manhattan, there is literally nothing these two women won’t do for a first date. Wear flat shoes and hunch over so as to not offend a height-challenged potential suitor? Sure thing! Borrow someone’s dog and enroll it in pet obedience school? Okey dokey. Ignore the fact that the guy is married? Heck, yeah! Have sex in public places with a guy you met last weekend? Sure, what the fuck!
The amazing thing about the show was that all of this crap was shoehorned into 28-minute episodes galloping along at a pace that made Marx Brothers movies look like Godard. At any given moment, Samantha was engaged in a threesome with a lesbian and a pro football player, Miranda was bumping into her boss in a sex toy shoppe in Noho, and Charlotte was changing her religion to Zoroastrianism to attract a four-foot-eight professional performance artist with flatulence issues. And then, at the 26-minute mark, Carrie would open her laptop, muse to herself “I couldn’t help but wonder …” and tie the whole lunatic free-for-all together with some bon mot like “While the cat’s away, the mice will all meet at the cosmetics counter at Bloomingdale’s.”
Anyway, needless to say, I found all of this pretty damned entertaining. My wife did, too. Neither one of us could remember what the hell happened in any episode, twenty minutes after it was over, but we were always ready for more when the next Sunday night came around. When the credits rolled at the end and that spiffy Sex And The City theme music was reprised, my wife would sometimes tuck up her blanket and sigh, “I’m glad I’m not single anymore.” And I would grunt happily in agreement and click over to the prime-time Sunday night football game. In many ways, Sex And The City was better than our sex life.
I’ve heard bad things about the new movie, Sex And The City 2. All the critics hate it. Even Roger Ebert unloaded on it, and he managed to be pretty even-handed about The Human Centipede. But I don’t get what all the angst is about. Yes, the girls are a little narcissistic. Yes, they still have nice shoes while all the rest of us are being ground to dust by the Great Recession.
But come on! They’re going to the desert! To ride camels! And make “camel toe” jokes! What’s not to love?