Feministing Rom Com Review: Sex and the City 2

This week we have a special installation of the Feministing Rom Com Review–Chloe and I take on some problematic themes in Sex and the City 2.
Sex and the City: A Trainwreck
Sex and the City’s Woman of Color Problem
Transcript after the jump.

Chloe: Welcome to a very special edition of the Rom Com Review. I’m here with Samhita, in her very sexy boudoir, because we are discussing Sex and the City 2.
Samhita: And this is Chloe.
C: Hi! I’m Chloe.
Title: Gay People as Props/Homophobia
S: We have a couple of different themes to talk about. Let’s talk about homophobia, or the “gay people as accents or accessories to the movie
C: Or convenient plotpoints.
S: Yes.
C: So first of all, the movie opens with the marriage, or as Carrie insists on saying, “it’s just a wedding, it’s not a gay wedding” between her gay best friend Stanford and Charlotte’s gay best friend Anthony.
S: I actually appreciated the wedding because, granted, it was a huge gay minstrel show, which we’ll talk about in a minute, but I actually appreciated it, because it starts the movie of with saying that marriage is more than just between straight people. So you have this new conversation, this new way of finding love. But then it was a trainwreck. What happens next?
C: So, everything is white and sparkly, there are swans, there are musical theater references, and then Liza Minelli shows up and performs what is actually a physically painful rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” And I don’t think you could possibly fit more gay stereotypes into a ten minute block of film unless there were people having butt sex at the reception. It is so gay.
S: Can you make jokes about people of a community that you’re not even a part of? So that kind of moves throughout the movie – gay people are accessories, they’re used to make points about straight people, and that brings us to the lesbian nanny.
C: Right. So Charlotte has two kids now; after years of struggling with fertility issues, she has two gorgeous kids, and she has a full-time, live-in nanny. And the big issue is that this nanny is gorgeous and she doesn’t wear a bra, and she runs around with her boobs bouncing everywhere. And there are plenty of opportunities for slo-mo, and for some reason she dances an Irish jig, because she’s Irish, and she doesn’t wear a bra, so of course she has to dance a jig, and Charlotte gets really worried about the fact that her husband might be attracted to the nanny and might cheat on her with the nanny. And at the end, it’s revealed that the nanny is a lesbian, so problem solved, we don’t have to have a substantive discussion about the fact that Charlotte is afraid of growing older and less attractive, and that she’s threatened by a younger, beautiful woman, because she’s a lesbian.
Title: Sickening Consumerism, #firstworldproblems
C: Consumerism.
S: Ugh.
C: You know those movies where stuff is blowing up for no reason, and people are getting shot with way more bullets than they need to be, and you just sit there going, “why did you blow up that house, or country, or planet? It makes no sense”? This movie is like that with stuff. Everything is sparkly, and everything is expensive and everything is as luxurious as it can possibly be, and at a certain point, especially with the economy being what it is, it is just senseless, gratuitous consumerism. And it’s pretty sickening.
S: I agree. I think the piece where we’re supposed to somehow feel bad for Charlotte because she has a nanny and she doesn’t have a full-time job and she still can’t handle mothering?
C: Like you said, it is difficult to feel bad for Charlotte because she has full-time help, and she lives in a gorgeous apartment on the Upper East Side, and she doesn’t have a job, but by the same token it’s nice to see this acknowledgement that motherhood isn’t easy. During the scene they acknowledge, “we have full-time help, how do the mothers who don’t have help do it?” and they toast to those mothers.
S: First world problems! One of those moments throughout the movie that are misguided attempts for building relationships or some kind of visibility for marginalized populations but fails to do so and ultimately disrupts the main narrative.
Title: Is it Feminist?
S: This is a show that started as a way to re-write a narrative around romance.
C: Ultimately they all end up married and or with kids, with the exception of Samantha, and without Samantha there in this movie there would be no sex. She’s the only one we see having sex, and she’s the only way that they’re staying true to the original purpose of the show, which is the idea that women can have sex like men.
S: Absolutely. And so while I appreciated the final sentiment of the movie, which is that you should find romance on your own terms, and every relationship looks different depending on what it is, ultimately, consumerism and marriage were the two consolidated themes throughout the movie and the materialism of Big giving her a ring to consolidate their commitment, while she’s saying it’s on her own terms.
C: Right. So one of the major points of the movie is that Carrie is not a traditional girl; she resisted an engagement ring, she didn’t change her last name. And then at the end of the movie, to “punish” her for cheating on him, Big gives her this huge motherfucking diamond ring, as a reminder that she has to wear every day to remind her that she is married and in a monogamous relationship. For a woman who resisted an engagement ring, this is a pretty huge pendulum swing towards traditional marriage.

Join the Conversation

  • Erikasf

    Good analysis, but I watch Sex & the City for the hot men and the sex.

  • Lydia

    I wouldn’t have expected you to be so much kinder to this swill than I would have been. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt somewhat vindicated seeing all the terrible reviews for SATC2 come in. The only thing that continues to bewilder me is that many of these reviews seem to be lamenting how far the show has fallen from it’s glory days.
    I’m sorry, but when were those? SATC was ALWAYS about gross materialism and reinforcing every noxious stereotype of men and women alike. Men want sex, women want relationships. Men like sports. Women like shoes. etc. etc. These 4 women are supposed to be independent, smart, and empowered yet they don’t seem to have a thought in their heads that doesn’t involve fashion and men. I hardly find Carrie’s vapid, infantile, needy character empowering, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s sqealing, flouncing, hair-tossing, coquettish performance sets my teeth on edge. And sure Samantha is unabashedly sexual and promiscuous but that is ALL she is. She has exactly 0 other character traits. It’s the same old “slut” stereotype, where the woman is entirely defined by the men she has sex with, except now it’s just saying that being a slut is okay. Not exactly progress. This show “rewrote” nothing.
    So I’m kind of surprised that you’re letting so many things slide. I feel like we’re about 10 years past the time when stating in a Hollywood movie that marriage didn’t have to be between a man and a woman scores you that many points. I mean, that’s pretty basic and not exactly a groundbreaking idea for the demographic this franchise is primarily aimed at. And “the original purpose of the show, which is the idea that women can have sex like men?” Please tell me that you find the entire premise of their being an essentially “male” way to have sex and that any woman who practices it is “like a man” problematic. Please?
    Maybe you guys are just trying to be magnanimous, but this crap seems pretty merit-free to me.

  • Toongrrl

    They couldn’t even have the imagination or decency to take a cue from the second “Bridget Jones” movie and have the lesbian character have a crush on Charlotte. It’s a wonder that anyone would find this movie enlightening or relevent. Ahhh, Chole and Samitha, if you gals want to wash the stench of “Sex and the City 2″ from your mouths, I suggest the 1955 classic “Marty”, about two “unattractive” people who find true love with each other and a look at the “beautiful” people who place a high priority on marriage, beauty, monogamy, and tradition. It’s awesome.