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'Sex and the City' revisited

Carrie and the girls indulge in the good life like never before in the new movie. Are they still relevant?

By Karen Datko May 27, 2010 1:33PM

With all the focus on fashion and excess that seems to be the hallmark of "Sex and the City 2," will we still have a soft spot in our heart for the girls? Will we like this film? (Not to mention that the insufferably self-righteous Aidan returns.)

 

Fashion writer Nadine Jolie summed up our thoughts beautifully:

What with multimillion-dollar apartments and Vogue spreads and now couture in the desert, Carrie is no longer one of us. It's a beautiful fantasy, to be sure, but no longer has even the slightest footing in reality. . . .   

In case you've missed the news, "Sex in the City 2" has opened in theaters across the nation. Our "girls," now in their 40-plus years, leave the recession-bitten U.S. for a free trip to luxurious Abu Dhabi, where their hugely expensive stilettos challenge desert sands.

The reviews haven't been great. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "The experience of listening to the girls complain about their fairy-tale lives from the comfort of an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation in the Arabian desert may leave a viewer feeling by turns nostalgic, disoriented and impatient."

 

A lot of us are frugal now. But we also wonder: Were they ever really one of us? Were they role models for us: compulsive Carrie addicted to shopping at Manhattan's highest-price boutiques; sweet, preppy Charlotte feeling entitled to a high-class life; Samantha with those broad shoulders a linebacker would love (and probably did)? The only character who made sense to us was practical Miranda, now settled in Brooklyn with her family. Not that we'd want to be her either.

 

The TV show defied reality in many ways. Could Carrie really have afforded all those shoes before she married Big? We ask that at risk of violating The Frisky's official ban on 10 overused conversations about "SATC," including this one: "Their lives aren't realistic because no one has a one-bedroom apartment like that/newspaper columnists couldn't afford to buy even one pair of Manolo Blahniks, etc."

 

Still, Jo Piazza writes at PopEater, "We could have been like them. They were a version of us with cooler jobs and a seemingly endless capacity to wear 4-inch heels, but we could aspiringly relate to them. But now, things are different."

 

Lukewarm reviews won't stop fans from flocking to see the film. That's because "SATC" is ingrained in our lives.

The TV show inspired blogs like The Budgeting Babe, "a website dedicated to all the young working women who want to spend like Carrie in a Jimmy Choo store but have a budget closer to Roseanne." That blog is now in hiatus, but you can still read Carrie  . . . on the Cheap. (For you contrarians, the antithesis of the "must find a man" theme in the show is expressed in "Celibacy in the city.")

 

The Well-Heeled Blog warned readers about one of Ms. Bradshaw's excesses:

When Carrie realizes that she's spent $40,000 on shoes but could not secure a loan on her own to buy out her share of the co-op after she breaks up with Aidan.
Personal finance lesson for the gals -- don't become the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe. Manolos can't fund a retirement.

"SATC" -- frugally

Some who see the disconnect between the latest incarnation of the girls and the rest of us offer some solutions: You can dress like them even if you aren't rich. A New York Times story says you can get shoes that closely resemble the $800 high heels that torture -- um, grace -- Carrie's feet for a mere fraction of that cost. Likewise, a frock that resembles Carrie's white cocktail dress is available at Dillard's for $49.

 

Also, Stephanie Rosenbloom writes at the Times, "Some of the clothes in the film are less costly than you may think." You can buy the scarf Samantha wears in the desert for $120 at the boutique owned by "SATC" costume designer Patricia Field. Charlotte's cute apron is actually pretty cheap.

 

Meanwhile, the National Post offers a delightful recap of events in the girls' pre-movie days -- and offers frugal alternatives. For example: If you can't afford dinner at Il Cantinori, the scene of Carrie's 35th birthday party, where pasta dishes average $22, you can try the highly rated Sinfonia Di Pasta, where an entire meal costs $22.95.

 

Sure, it was just a TV show, and now our fictional characters are living the big-screen life, where the power of marketing is on full-blown display. Thanks to the money to be made from product placement, Carrie has even given up her old Mac for an HP laptop.

 

"After all, even Carrie Bradshaw has to make some concessions in a rebuilding economy. If the worst thing that has to happen is that a Mac gets replaced with a very attractive Windows 7 laptop, so be it," wrote Christina Warren at Mashable.

 

Funny. I expect I'll enjoy "SATC2." It's a movie, not a prescription for life.

 

How much did "Sex and the City" affect your outlook? Are the girls still cool, or is such unabashed materialism totally out of fashion?

 

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