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Home » Culture and Criticism

Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: Sex & The City

Submitted by on June 24, 2014 – 11:38 AM17 Comments
New Line / HBO

New Line / HBO

In which my love-hate relationship with the Sex & The City franchise may finally pay a dividend.

I don't know what it is about S&TC, show or movie (for the purposes of this nomination and also our collective cultural self-esteem I will continue to pretend that the second movie never happened, because egh), but I can never not watch it — even the chopped-up, bleeped-over, boobless rock block of old eps that air on E! at lunchtime. I kind of don't really like any of them, except sometimes Charlotte; the portrayal of the freelance-writing life makes me want to hit someone with a bag of the pennies we lot actually get paid (suuuuure, gigundo UES-brownstone 1.5 BR writing one — crappy, PS! — column a week! except fuck off!); our "heroine" is usually ten pounds of cutesily unethical shit in a five-pound YSL clutch; etc.

But every now and then, it got the city, work and lady territorialism in the city, and group friendships exactly right…and the fact is, this Sarah has had a crush on Chris Noth for 20 years and wanted Carrie to end up with Big against all logic, all feelings I had about the character, and everything I've ever said on The Vine about amour fou. Fairytales persist; I forgive myself.

I'll forgive myself even more readily if the S&TC movie — really one quintuplisode that writ everything fun, fucking annoying, and otherwise familiar about the TV show on the big screen — squeezes onto the PFM couch with a Cosmo.

(…Ugh, goddamn Cosmos. And goddamn cupcakes!)

It isn't great; it isn't even good, quite, and some of it is not credible (Miranda's role in Big's ditch-out is horseshit, from his taking the grouching of a recently cheated-on wife seriously to Miranda actually blaming herself to Carrie blaming her instead of realizing Big is a neurotic fucknuts). Jennifer Hudson gives it a hundred and ten, and she almost pulls Louise out of Magical Black Womanville, but she can't quite, because she's a token. And the gay characters get the usual shrieking-cartoon treatment, though compared to bullshit they have to play in the sequel this is practically Ingmar Bergman. Free Cantone!

Anyhoodle. I can never not watch it. Let's run the numbers.

  • lengthy? Yes. Two and a half hours; usually runs three to three and a half on basic cable.
  • familiar/frequent? Yes. A Saturday-afternoon staple of late.
  • classic/award-winner? Hee! …No. No nominations for the "majors," no wins anywhere else.
  • "Greetings, Professor Falken" (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? Yahtzee! Carrie and Big work it out; she gets to keep those rad blue pumps AND that penthouse apartment in the sky; everyone has wedding brunch and gets along; marriage, credits, yay.
  • "Wanna have a catch?" (Pavlovian tear-jerk)? I don't get teary, but Big's extremely pleased-with-himself "…so I invited them" and Carrie's wail of delight brings me joy.
  • quote-fest? Maybe for some, not really for me, although I have been known to howl "I am HUMILIATED" at the cats.
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? Again, not really, but if you feel strongly that the closet montage or the "friend-eymoon" are capers, I'd allow it. Strictly speaking, nah.
  • "forget you, melon farmer" (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) The basic-cable cuts don't do much harm, but I do own it on DVD thanks to my favorite flea market (you wouldn't believe the other turds in that seven-for-$10 punchbowl; stay tuned) and I still become becalmed by it every time I see it on the onscreen guide.

So, there you have it. Generous scoring gives it a 5, so now it's down to who else knows it's bad; keeps a finger on the PREV button in case their spouses come in and catch them; and still watch it for the fashion porn and foxy Noth. Discuss.

Update 7/17/14: It's a certain Samantha fan's birthday today, so why not induct this puppy into the PFM CoF.

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.

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  • Susan says:

    Oh the S&TC love/hate relationship. I know it so well. I used to really like the series, which turned into white hot hatred when they abused the divine Mikhail Baryshnikov. Tried to put that hatred behind me by going to see the first movie, which I despised. So definitely not a poppy-fields movie for me. In fact, I will never watch it again. And yet, there are still episodes of the series that, when I see them airing, I feel compelled to watch. It's complicated.

  • Kizz says:

    Free Cantone!

  • Jill TX says:

    Very much agreed on this one! Also, I've seen it many times, yet am still not convinced that Big really "bailed" on the wedding. Didn't he say he'd go through with it after all, but it was too late because Carrie was already shrieking and flailing and huffing and throwing bouquets at town cars? Big was a jackhole, but not even the third biggest jackhole on that show. (Carrie owns the top 3 spots.)

    Susan, YES, such a waste of Baryshnikov. Unspeakable. Every time Carrie called him her "lovah" I think it took six minutes off my life, due to the sheer hate that coursed through my veins. But do I watch those episodes? Over and over.

  • Donna says:

    Bravo! Well stated.
    Count me as one who will always watch it.

  • slices says:

    The scene in which she starts to realize what's actually happening ("But we're 25 minutes late…?"), and then as she's on the horn with him, and it's done almost as if slo-mo (it's been a while since I've seen it, maybe it's actual slo-mo? I don't think so though?) always, ALWAYS gets me. Like the first few times I found it gut-wrenching to the point of tears, the way the friends immediately leap into action, "you take her!" and then outside in the street a couple minutes later when Charlotte screams at him to stay away from Carrie, eyes blazing mad … I just thought the whole thing was so well done and true to how the horror of something like that might actually go down.

  • Dukebdc says:

    I agree with "slices" above, the realization that Big isn't at the wedding, and her friends swooping in, and the confrontation, Charlotte screaming at Big, and the aftermath/honeymoon gets me every time.

    The one part of the movie I hated was the "arc" if you can even call it that, with Charlotte not believing her great life will continue to be great. She frets and worries and then there is no payoff. She has a healthy daughter, her life IS still perfect, the end. Boo.

  • Kat From Jersey says:

    Yes!!!! For the 'cleaning out Carrie's closet' montage alone! IMO, the regular series finale of this show (Big comes to Paris to rescue Carrie from the clutches of petulant/whiny/insecure, "I'm an artist, dammit" Russian Aleksanndrrrr, which, HATE him) is the yummiest cake you could ever eat, and the first movie is the sweetest icing on top of it, that I can't stop eating.

    Plus, I adore Harry, and love Big's cute facial expression when he opens the door at the courthouse after their wedding, to reveal the girls waiting. But, did anyone else think that the designer purse Carrie got for Louise was hideous?

  • Sue says:

    Co-signed on the end-of-the-series-hate (esp. the scenes in Paris, GOD) to the point where I didn't watch the first movie. Saw the feathered thing and wedding dress combo and bailed. I've watched the second under duress (gin & tonics and enabling friends) but only bits of the first, still. I'll watch almost any of the series on cable, but the movie was too much.

  • Bisskitt says:

    I'm all in even though it became so annoying. I'm "their" age so it was liberating somehow. (Although I lived in Chicago with a decent job and would never have been able to buy a pair of $400 shoes, because Rent). Credit to TWOP for illuminating Bradshaw as the anti-hero. Shut up Carrie. Just. Shut. Up. And yes, Free Cantone! Side note that I named my son Aidan because I have always had girl-wood for Aidan Quinn and Effing SATC-Aidan saddled my 9 year old with a "common" name. Sigh.

  • ct says:


  • Meg says:

    But she wore a bird! On her head!

    Yeah, this movie is crack. And I spend my time being enraged that Carrie is a bitch to Miranda starting at their Valentine's Day dinner, because really?? She's going to blame Big being late to the wedding on Miranda? Seriously?

    And yet….I'll almost always watch it.

  • JenV says:

    Oh, Sars. If you have never come across Lindy West's takedown evisceration of SATC 2, do yourself a favor:

  • Faux McCoy says:

    I never watched the series, so I didn't have a lot of pre-existing strong feelings either way for any of the characters. That said, when we lived in Germany a few years ago, the lone English-language movie channel in our cable package would choose five movies a month and loop them. SATC made the rotation, and so for one month it was on constantly. Gotta say, I did kill a lot of time watching it for lack of better shows on other channels. The overarching take-away for me based on the movie was a vague sense of disbelief that the series had been so wildly popular.

  • pomme de terre says:

    I enjoy the parts leading up to and immediately after the wedding, especially the Other Three immediately mobilizing when Big bails.

    Also, to be a Carrie apologist, I don't think she was angry that Miranda derailed Big at the rehearsal dinner. She was angry that Miranda didn't tell her about the incident for months while Carrie was trying to make sense of it. The cover-up was worse than the crime, so to speak.

    Of course, knowing the information probably wouldn't have helped at all. But as Sars has said in response to a few Vine letters, it's a dearly cherish fallacy of the recently dumped to believe that a complete, unabridged set of details will make sense of the chaos of heartbreak. I can imagine being angry at a friend for withholding — and then disclosing — information like that. And then getting over it in three days, which is what Carrie does.

    Info like that is sort of thing that you either take to your grave, or share right up front. Probably the former.

  • turtle says:

    Oooh, SATC. I loved loved loved the series when it started, and I will still sit down & watch the show when it's on reruns. I guess it's my poppy-fields tv show. Even the episodes with Aiden, who I hated (even though I loved him on Northern Exposure!), and Aleksandr. Argh!!!

    All that being said, I'll watch the movie when it's on. Though the whole not-showing-up-and-then-immediately-regretting-it thing Big did was stoopid. Like the writers weren't quite able to figure out how to make the wedding not happen, but not have us hate him completely. Poor execution. I hate those kind of hijinks. Miscommunication that could be cleared up relatively easily! It's like a bad 80s sitcom.

  • turtle says:

    Oh, yeah, and Chris Noth is the best! Ah, I always loved him.

  • Jen says:

    "rock block"

    Did you think your loyal followers would gloss over this touchstone of old-itude?

    God, we're old.

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