Growing up, I loved Carrie Bradshaw so much I wanted to be her. I watched so much "Sex and the City" that when I was 18, I turned down an offer from Smith College to attend a college-of-last-resort in New York City and live the dream: Life as a single, upwardly-mobile, city-dwelling woman writer.
Of course, within a year, I figured out that most of Carrie Bradshaw's life was fantasy -- writers in Manhattan take the subway almost exclusively, buy their designer clothing at Housing Works, and drink those $15 cosmos sparingly -- but I loved Carrie nonetheless.
Yet I probably won't go see the "Sex and the City 2" movie
. Let's face it: "Sex and the City 2" looks terrible.
On the whole, there has been a real mismanagement of the SATC brand. When the show debuted in 1998 on HBO, the opening credits teased New York City skylines themselves; in fact, "Sex and the City"'s reverence for the city could be likened to the way it's lovingly illustrated in Woody Allen movies.
The initial episodes, which opened with men and women discussing their genuine confusion about the opposite gender, channeled Nora Ephron -- discreetly feminist and upscale. The show was an HBO exclusive, meaning you had to find a rich friend to invite you over; if she was a great friend, maybe she'd offer you a cosmo. Mikhail Baryshnikov, the legendary ballet dancer whose likeness is forever preserved in one of Annie Liebovitz's most well-known portraits
, made an on-going cameo in season six as Carrie's second-to-last love interest, Aleksandr Petrovsky. And "Sex and the City" had such selling power that it elevated Manolo Blahnik, Sushi Samba -- even Magnolia Cupcakes -- to icon status.
Today, "Sex and the City" is not catapulting other businesses to fame; it's a business in and of itself, and one that's become lowbrow and silly. Any artistry in "Sex and the City" is being squeezed out in the name of churning out another supremely high-grossing movie for women in a supremely down economy. With these films, "Sex and the City" has effectively been lobotomized. And it's not sexy to watch.
Whether it was Charlotte going "Poughkeepsie" in her pink Adidas track suit during a trip to Mexico in the first SATC movie, or the sequel's inclusion of a trip to Abu Dhabi
in lieu of a more sophisticated plot. One of the movie posters bears a giant "2" upholstered in silver aluminum mesh; in the trailer
, Carrie tells Big that their relationship needs more "sparkle."
But the last thing "Sex and the City 2" needs is more sparkle; it needs its integrity back. In fact, the entire film franchise (a third is already rumored to be in production) is a definitive shift from the highbrow nature of the TV series that professional women loved to watch -- and women's studies professors lived to dissect for what it revealed about women's lib. That was five to 10 years ago. Today's "Sex and the City" makes "Bride Wars
" look like quality cinema.
If you don't like the SATC rerun that's on TBS
, you can watch the one simultaneously airing on the CW. Thus, the "Sex and the City" fan base has shifted, perhaps to a much younger audience. At the opening of the "Sex and the City" movie two summers ago, I was shocked by the behavior of the audience: A cell phone went off once a minute (more than once, someone answered their phone), the text message alerts never stopped, and the audience conversations continued at a dull roar until the credits rolled.
Even New York City itself is feeling the SATC aftershocks: Bleecker Street is littered with cupcake wrappers
every day between 11 and 4 -- the remains of legions of teenage fans visiting Magnolia Bakery. Fine -- if "Sex and the City" has adapted to appeal to younger women, or bring in a wider audience, more power to it. But appealing to younger women doesn't require dumbing down until the brand itself is unrecognizable.
That's why I'll be boycotting. Sure, it's normal to want to see how Carrie's closet is stocked this time, what in the world brought Aidan to Abu Dhabi, and whether she'll merely run into -- or recycle -- her ex. But women also need to sustain a certain level of outrage that this quality television show got such a bad makeover on its way to the silver screen that I'm sure the original Carrie wouldn't recognize it.
Liz Funk is a New York–based author, freelance writer and speaker. Her first book, "Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls" was published last year by Simon and Schuster.