Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DJG / Sex & The City (Series and Movie)

Sex & The City (The Complete Series) * * * * *
Sex & The City (The Movie) * * * *

It happened to me…something I never dreamed would. This something involved something that since the late '90s I'd rolled my eyes and cringed my brain towards, and the same to those who rode along with it or those who personified and glorified it. I was wrong and I now admit it. A year ago I fell for something on syndicated television and it was love at first bite. It was one of those after-work experiences that had me feeling vulnerable from the blows of the exhausting work day. I couch-plopped down and caught "Sex & The City" after the opening titles had splashed and it took me only fifteen seconds to figure out what I was watching and yet I was hooked out of water. I fell hard and on down a slippery slope. I gave into everything that had held me back before from such a show. I think I even made sure all the blinds were closed and the T.V. volume was low just to make sure word wouldn't get out. It was everything that I was not and against, yet it felt so right. In some ways, I was liberated and the next night I did it again. This may sound like a first-time testimonial for a topic on the popular HBO show (as my old minister would call it, "Hell's Box Office"!), but it's true. And couldn’t be more true as I finished up six seasons and a movie, “Sex & The City” is now sitting near the top of my favorite all-time, fully-realized shows.

Even though I celebrate most all forms of "vegging out" when it comes to television and movies, “Sex & The City” is still not me at all, but yet it kind of is. It’s hard to find an explanation and I don’t really think it needs one. If anything, my tastes, tolerations, moral boundaries and beliefs are the exact opposite of the show. Nor, am I for the character's self-centered consumerism of all things of-the-moment fashion, parties and night-caps, debaucheries and at times no-rules/no-nonsense way of living. But, I've officially somehow found maturity through "Sex & The City", trading in my once love for Woody Allen's tales of existential anxiety and neurosis in NYC for a blend of girl power that feels more lived-in and free-forming.

There is a jungle of tall buildings, long legs, and voluminous cosmopolitans in "Sex & The City". It's a land where every other successful lawyer, banker, stock broker, fashionista, bar tender, successful writer or artist or actor succeeds in getting into the beds of a tag team of four Uptown Girls. It's the Olympic games of sex and quarterbacking the home team (like a slightly better looking Terry Bradshaw), is Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gal gang of “of-the-moment-will-I-score-again” worry. And these girls worry about everything to the point of exhaustion. But, I love it and can relate to it (at least the worry part!). The plays are observed, made and marked in Carrie’s trusty Macintosh lap-top (I saw it on display in the Smithsonian in 2007!) for a weekly column on sex. Sex is her work. Research is the bedroom and pork-you-pine concubines and every day observation. Every episode serves up a question for Carrie's column where the girls help do the answering as they prey hostess at trying on the guys of New York City. Her comrades in girl power, promiscuality, one night stands, raunchy verbage, over-priced meals, bad art, obnoxious parties, thousand dollar bed sheets, ex-boyfriend run-ins, half-thousand-dollar shoe obsessions and terrible with a capital "T" wardrobes of a designer's dozen outfit changes per each episode shoot through my roof of toleration extravagance. But, I can't stop spending time with these gals.

Other than just pure enjoyment, what makes a show like "Sex & The City" truly work for me is that under all the sheets the show feels very lived-in and exposes that there is more to life than what one might pull from the title. It's a testament to friendship through the thick and thin, and all the men. There is also growth in the characters’ journeys. The show is smart, clever, charming and laugh-out-loud funny. It has extremely tight characters and plot arcs that are well-played and thoroughly detailed. Casting for shows similar is typically disastrous, but "Sex & The City" pulls it off to perfection. Each and every character couldn't work without the other, even those who are one-night stands. Simply put, the television series is genius.

And the movie…well, it’s bloated worse than some women who are "with child"…and I still love it. In what would take an entire television season to introduce and develop, the movie packs a year's span of time into two hours. Nothing-new plots are boiled over and then new ones are introduced as I'm still left with old ones nearly 6 years old mysteriously extinguished from the screen version. Brand new characters are even thrown in that feel like unrealized filler for market research fulfillment. Undoubtedly, every "Sex & The City" cliche is exhausted and everybody cries and spills their purses and then hugs and laughs it off. Heck, there is even some bathroom humor. But, I absolutely LOVE it. "Sex & The City: The Movie" is two fabulous hours of pure delight, and not just in a Mary J. Blige’s music pumpin’ feminine hygienic product commercial. Beneath all the ruffles of ridiculously hideous outfits (even more wardrobe changes than the entire series!), extra terrible corny music, sexually-explicit cheese, girl power, girl worry, gays and queens, backstabbing men, and a closet so big it could house a pair of Buicks on steroids and a trailer home, these four restless 40-somethings bind together with the power of love and laughter to overpower heartbreak as they run over the hill towards their golden girl years. I want another please…preferably someday, "Sex & The City: The Nursing Home".

The Fab Four are a hair highlight film of ridiculous, the type of group you'd hate to brunch next to as every other word is a four letter one and with icing on cake that most adults wouldn't find very sweet. But, there is something to heart buried beneath…it is something that IS wonderfully sweet. There is a comraderie here with these ladies that everyone should have with friends and loved ones. And again, I can't take my eyes and ears off the sex-capades of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha and I'm not ashamed to say it. I used to keep items similar to "Sex & The City" in the back of my pop-culture closet, labeling them in the "Guilty Pleasure" department and not wearing them out for anybody else but my own secure runway. But, ever since a year ago's early evening of syndicated television and recently spending a month devouring every episode in order on DVD (and even a movie!), with every bruise and laugh with the gals, I cut-off the term "Guilty Pleasure" from my vocabulary. I have come out of the closet and have given into the pleasures of quality programming. Even if that means unrobing my morals and letting my hair down, as I sit and type at my Carrie Bradshaw-like, late '90s Macintosh lap-top.


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