This summer male moviegoers are supposed to be all geared up for The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Incredible Hulk.
Count me in. I’m a guy, and I grew up watching all these iconic characters. Just try to keep me away from the theater to see them.
But I also can’t wait for the film version of Sex and the City. Am I the only straight man who will buy a ticket — willingly, without a girlfriend or wife tugging on his arm all the way — to see Carrie Bradshaw and her shoe-shopping mates?
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that “it’s easier to find $2-a-gallon gas than a straight man eager to see” the upcoming Sex and the City movie.
The media maelstrom sure would like to confirm just that, focusing on the show’s fashion sense, the grrrl power bonding between the leads and the various hairstyles offered up during the show’s original run.
Don’t be fooled. The HBO series drew accolades for its promiscuity and Seinfeld-like catch phrases (“he’s just not that into you” among them). But I watched each week to see four smart, driven women dealing with life and love and their infuriating knack for messing up those very issues.
Now, I wouldn’t sit through Beaches, the mother of all chick flicks, on a dare. But I’ll happily channel surf onto a Sex and the City repeat and not so much as glance at my remote. That’s because there is a profound difference between the two. For a metaphor any guy can understand, it’s like enjoying some generic zombie movie on late night cable and then watching George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
No comparison. Lumping Sex in with other inferior projects aimed directly at women does the show, and its audience, a disservice.
On the surface, Sex and the City should be an easy sell for the gents; four attractive, fit women running around the Big Apple with hedonistic pleasures around every corner. I’m surprised the audience wasn’t entirely men from episode one.
Then came the chatter. Those gals sure like to talk. But like HBO’s guy bonding show Entourage, these ladies spoke like real women, or at least women with really active libidos. They worried about dating, their rickety self images and what being 30-something and single meant in modern society. (Hint – it wasn’t good.)
Except Samantha, played with an inextinguishable spark by Kim Cattrall. She seized the day, every day, morals and sexual diseases be darned. The three lead characters needed Samantha as an example of the fun they could be having when they let their guard down, but ultimately her character represented the weakest link of the quartet, realistically speaking. She was a man in high heels, existing more for wish fulfillment than as a pragmatically conceived character.
Still, Samantha’s mojo was more than balanced by Charlotte’s pragmatism, Miranda’s stoicism and Carrie’s romanticism. Just describing them is like recalling actual people full of flaws and promise. And how often can a show trot out three-plus characters who could be described in that fashion?
Men avoid Sex the movie at their own peril. Good art — be it a record, theatrical performance or painting — sheds light on the human condition and we’re all the better for it.
Now, Sex and the City was far from perfect, and even labeling it as art makes me feel a bit uneasy given some of the show’s less graceful moments. Plus, the later seasons became sudsier than a Days of Our Lives marathon, and the show’s finale wrapped up every loose end in the tidiest of bows. Part of what made Sex special was that the problem du jour wasn’t always solved within a 30-minute span.
Carrie, a career defining role for Sarah Jessica Parker, made jaw-dropping mistakes throughout the show’s run. This made her achingly real to fans and critics alike. How could she cast aside Aidan (John Corbett), the wood worker with the heart of gold? Why did she let a perpetual adolescent like Mr. Big (Chris Noth) back into her life so many times?
But those imperfections helped fortify the notion that Sex was unlike any other show on cable or broadcast television.
So let’s put societal notions about chick flicks aside and raise an Apple Martini to the girls of Sex and the City. That means you too, fellas.