Sour Sequel Presents ‘Fashion is the Story in the City’

At the opening night of Sex and the City 2, I got all dolled up in fancy footwear then joined my friend Lailai and her merry band of gay buddies. As any self-respecting big city’s single girl, Lailai and I are, in a more accurate and PC term, fab hags of flamboyant gays. They’re witty, fashion fluent, provide both comforting shoulders and Haagen-Dasz pints when mean boys make you cry. They’re a keeper.

Whether you’re a devotee of the 6-year TV show as I am, or a newbie circa movie numero uno, you’ll notice that the cherished friendship between girls and gay men was featured full and frontal, no pun intended, when movie numero duo rolled out. The dazzling affair earned thunderous cheers while I, remembered how hilariously kaput the Charlotte-championed introductory of Stanford and Anthony during Carrie’s kaput catwalk stint, wistfully noting that love bloomed late might just last for life.

We all happily jetted off with the fabulous foursome, dropping jaws at the swanky Middle Eastern airline, whose attendants’ hat resembled Jordan Air’s, and at the unapologetic opulence of the Moroccan resort we readily pretended as Abu Dhabi.  But somewhere along the flick I suddenly sat upright and wondered; what exactly am I watching?

Thin storyline, poor character developments, overblown cultural clash, and sadly, even some noticeable fashion faux-pas (which certainly deserves a separate article dedicated to it).

I’m not naïve, okay. Sex and the City, TV show or movies, are not supposed to be some Oscar-worthy drama. But had it been fully fluff I would’ve never followed for years. Even when around Season 3 SJP made executive producer and Carrie made much more focal, rumored to fuel feud with Kim Cattrall plus made the show somehow wasn’t as it’d been when all four were portrayed more equally, I stayed put. The fashion was getting more forward, and the plots remained rich and delightful.

There were Charlotte’s messy divorces and wacky marriages, Miranda’s downtown career and brownstone move, Samantha’s boudoir adventures and sneaking cancer, and Carrie’s roller-coaster romantic rides with or without Mr. Big.

SATC 1 effortlessly picked it all up where it’d left off, with supporting plots smartly entangling each other. Samantha’s LA misadventure, Charlotte’s baby drama, Miranda’s marriage rut, and Carrie’s ultimate altar showdown. The Mexican getaway was seamlessly weaved into the story, as so every other subplot like Steve’s affair leading to Miranda’s misspoke subsequently leading back to Big-Carrie main line. Sure, there was cultural clash in Charlotte’s adamant refusal on local F&B, or fashion faux-pas of the dead, blue bird on Carrie’s bridal headpiece, which I always thought as the secret reason why Big chickened out. I even had a personal grief as Beethoven’s poignant love letter to his mysterious Immortal Beloved, once only savored among Beethoven diehards, made it to general mass. But overall it was an entertaining movie and glorious homage to the show, that not only I dutifully flocked to the cinema twice, to follow the story and watch the wardrobe, I’ve gladly caught the reruns on HBO ever since.

Nothing like that was to be found on the sequel, sadly.

The storyline is thinner than Carrie’s limbs, which isn’t a compliment. Carrie’s marital woe had a good start to revolve further, but fell flat at the weirdly played 2-day-off arrangement, and didn’t rebound even as a ‘meet-cute’ twist ensued. Carrie’s panicky assemblage of ‘to tell or not to tell’ appeared staged and humorless versus SATC 1’s post-altar circle of friends, nailed perfectly by Charlotte’s outburst gesture followed by funny walk in that mermaid gown. Even Carrie’s life as writer, platform of the TV show’s narrative style, was merely an afterthought now.

The plots for the other characters were neither exciting nor character developing. Miranda’s career shift could’ve been less cliché, Charlotte’s eye-popping Irish nanny might’ve been written in more, and Samantha’s mood swings should’ve been presented more classily. Look, if I want to watch shrieking, menopausal women, I’ll hang out with my aunts, okay.

As for her much-criticized Abu Dhabi behaviors, I’d say this: Samantha has ALWAYS been insensitive. Miranda’s mom’s funeral, Charlotte-Trey’s wedding, Steve’s testicular surgery, Lucy Liu’s Birkin snag, need I go on? But the harmless nuisance has crossed to outrageously uncool now.

I didn’t say that because I’m born Muslim—I said so because I’m Sagittarian, the born traveler sign. You travel because you want to learn or at least experience new things, instead of lugging your comfort zone across the globe. When they asked me to cover legs in Balinese temples or shoulders in Italian churches, I respectfully complied. If I were in Israel and they said the elevators wouldn’t operate every Sabbath, I’d walk up the stairs sans fuss. Things get too much? Pack up and go home. Samantha came across as a petulant, myopic Ugly American, a far cry from flexible persona world-class PR execs normally known for.  Plus, as funny as her busted romp with that foxy Danish architect was, couldn’t it been more creative than carbon-copying the infamous British couple in Dubai? Saucy Samantha, you reap what you sow.

Sex might be absent from the scene, yet there were enough eye candy for girls and gays, like the aforementioned foxy architect, Mahmoud the elegant sheik’s aide, and splashing, Speedo-wearing, entire rugby team. For the straight boys who got dragged in; bountiful bellydancers, and a splashing, bouncy nanny.

Will I return to cinema for SATC 2? I haven’t ruled it out.

Should you rule it out? No, exercise your independent right to judge for yourself.

Should SATC reconvene once more? I love the show, I adore the cast, and I sure as hell hail its groundbreaking fashion. Yet I beg, pretty please, don’t ruin further what has considerably been flawless. Sour Sequels have showered us enough with flops that for every successful Lord of the Ring franchise, there were Matrix, Princess Diaries, and Toy Story. I don’t understand why SJP had to hurriedly proclaim SATC 3 in interviews. Earth to Carrie!

If SATC creators could just make peace without a third, perhaps we’d happily make peace with the second’s foibles and eternally ensconce the foursome in our most fabulous, fashion-forward, fun-tastic fibre of past collective memory. And isn’t that what a legacy is essentially all about?

Not much sex, nor story. Yet there’s fashion in a, though not the, city.

Overall, two stars out of four.

More about the fashion faux pas and (few) glorious one in the next article.