Disgusting pun certainly not intended. The title is not the actual question I should be asking anyway. Rather, what ever happened to my affection-bordering-on-obsession for the show? I ask, because since the addition of the last two movies (the 2nd of which I’ve yet to even see) and after having caught most of the viciously cut reruns on TBS (or worse, the massacred and thankfully short-lived ones on the CW), I find myself having made an almost complete 180 degree turn to a new opinion which actually approaches disdain.
Maybe I just answered my own question, but I’ll start at the beginning anyway to be sure.
I first watched Sex and the City when I was living at home, and therefore still able to afford HBO. There I watched each hour-long episode, filled with all the sex and profanity that only an HBO program can offer, and I fell in love. For me, it wasn’t about 4 rich, self-satisfied, Manhattanite snobs. It was about the pain and fear and humiliation that a single woman sometimes suffers while she struggles not to settle for less than true love or maybe just to be herself without giving in to the mores of society. It was about the way that women can support each other through it with compassion, understanding, and humor. For all that the show was supposed to be comedy, it was the more serious moments that defined it in my eyes.
So, was I a “Carrie”, a “Miranda”, a “Charlotte”, or a “Samantha”?
I could never decide. Throughout the six seasons, I ended up relating to each of them at one point or another. Though I consider myself more of an Aidan girl than a Mr. Big one, I understood what it was like for Carrie to be desperately in love with someone with whom she would never know where she stood. I knew what Miranda felt, watching her best friend deeply involved with a man who had broken her before and almost certainly would again, how frustrating not to be able to protect her from herself, and the painful fights it could cause. I got how Charlotte tried so hard to hold onto her childhood ideals of romance and a Prince Charming, until she finally realized that a perfect facade had nothing to do with what really mattered to her.
And, as for Samantha…I’d rather not say. My family reads this blog! 😉
The finale of this show was one of my all-time favorite finales, despite having never been that much of a Mr. Big fan. Like I said, I saw him most clearly through Miranda’s eyes at the time, as someone who was always going to care for himself just that much more. Weirdly enough, I was able to see him more clearly as Carrie did once I saw ‘The Way We Were‘ with Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. I only became interested after she’d compared her relationship with the movie in the episode, Ex and the City. From there I imagined Big as Hubbell, drawn to Carrie’s intensity and seeming to wish the entire time that he wasn’t. The only difference is that as far as I can tell, Katie loved Hubbell because despite his tremendously attractive yet completely shallow trappings, his writing proved that he also had a soul. I don’t know what Big had ever done to prove that he had one, but maybe Carrie was more easily impressed than Katie.
I’m digressing. Quite a bit, really. Fun, though.
Ahem. Anyway, I love anything that can excite my emotions and draw me in, and Sex and the City fit that bill. Yet with the loss of my HBO connection, I’ve had to resort to basic cable and clearly you get what you pay for. There are simply too many things that have to be cut. Storylines are hinted at instead of told because there isn’t enough time and obviously the erotic or profane elements have to be left out. If you look at each little loss singularly it isn’t a big deal, but put them together and you are left with stories with giant missing pieces, characters censored to the point of emptiness (with weird voice-overs), and the show’s trademark bad-pun humor (that was always there; I just never liked it). Those who watch this hacksaw version for their first exposure to the series can be forgiven for not being overly impressed.
Then there are the movies. When I heard about the first I was excited but had to admit I couldn’t imagine a storyline that actually needed telling when all the ends had been tied so neatly in that fantastic finale. So I saw it and liked it, but it clearly wasn’t on the same level. I love angst, and Carrie’s annihilation by Big certainly touched my heart, but I wasn’t thrilled with the situations that got them there in the first place. Honestly, would you have believed during the series that Carrie would throw a wedding and completely forget about Big in the planning? Isn’t that what she wanted to accuse Natasha of in Season 2? And while it is realistic that Miranda would turn into a negligent workaholic and Steve whining and lonely, it is also disappointing, and seemed a tired echo of what they’d already gotten through when they were first dating.
With that in mind, when the second movie came out, I tried and failed to be interested. What on earth could there possibly be left to say? The trailers convinced me that it wasn’t anything good. I love Aidan, but everybody is supposed to be happily married at this point, and as bad as Big used to be for Carrie, she was always far worse for Aidan. Nobody deserves to be #2 to their only #1. Not to mention that for the first time I was turned off by the fabulous excess for which the girls are famous. Timing is everything, and 2010 was a rough freakin’ year. Yet let me watch 4 rich chicks parade around in the desert in their Manolos, a somehow necessary escape from perfect lives, since God knows when you already have success and true love, you get bored. I wouldn’t know anything about that.
The point is, none of this should take away from an incredible six season show, and it’s a shame that somehow it has. Financial situations being what they are right now, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who had to step down from HBO. Yet in my most Carrie-like fashion, I can’t help but wonder if the DVD set wouldn’t be a nice addition to next year’s Christmas list. With my own access to the real deal, maybe I’ll finally be able to remember Sex and the City as the phenomenon it really was, instead of the half-hearted pun-fest it artificially became.