Sex and the City 2, like its film and television predecessors, is problematic. On the one hand, you have a story that centers around four successful career women, all over forty, only one of whom – Kirsten Davis – possibly fits the incredibly narrow standards of beauty applied to women. And you have Samantha (Kim Catrall) who has a voracious sexual appetite, is unrepentant about it and this is portrayed as being perfectly natural and healthy. All their sexualities are seen as natural and healthy. The men revolve around the women as boyfriends and husbands in much the same way that women traditionally revolve around men as girlfriends and wives in other films and TV shows. On the other hand, a lot of their storylines revolve around men – who they’re dating, who they’re sleeping with, their dreams of getting married. Much of the first movie revolves around Carrie’s (Sarah-Jessica Parker) obsession with an all-out wedding, and by the end of the it, three of them are married.
Sex and the City 2 continues along this vein. There’re some wonderful points made about how women are looked upon as unnatural for not wanting children, and the difficulty society has in comprehending the fact a woman may like children without having any interest in having them. And there’s a wonderful scene between Charlotte and Miranda where they admit that, as rewarding as it is, parenthood can be draining, frustrating and demoralising. Then again, you have the general attitude towards the Middle East that smacks of colonialist condescension, with the women, Sam in particular, quick to look down on what she sees as the inferiority of Abu Dabi. And speaking of Sam – she appears to look younger than she did at the start of the series, and her ‘war on ageing’ felt at variance with her attitude about being older, sexier than most younger women and damn proud of it.
But for some reason, what really annoyed me was a subplot with Charlotte, her husband Harry and the nanny Erin. Erin’s highly competent, but more importantly, she’s young, attractive and has a penchant for not wearing a bra. With thin, clingy white shirts. There’s a scene where she’s doing handstands and several key male players are watching her intently, like they all found her type attractive and none of them could be discreet about having a perve. This kicks off Charlotte’s insecurity streak and she spends much of the film fretting about her marriage to Harry. Oh, and there’s a classy scene involving Harry, Erin, her thin, clingy white shirt and a shower nozzle.
In the end, Charlotte resolves her feelings of insecurity. How, you may ask? Because it turns out the hot nanny is into other hot nannies. Yeah, Charlotte decided she could trust her husband because the nanny’s a lesbian, like Erin’s the only other woman in the world who’ll ever catch his eye. I felt this was a huge cop-out. Could Charlotte have not realised, say, that it was natural for Harry to find other women attractive and it didn’t mean he was about to run out and cheat? That there would always be younger, prettier women around and that she would drive herself crazy feeling insecure about all of them? That her frazzledness over raising two young children compared to Erin’s poise and competence was making her feel like a failure and see things that weren’t there, and a little perspective goes a long way? Hell, that confidence and security is its own kind of attractiveness. Instead, by resolving Charlotte’s insecurities by having Erin be a lesbian, the writers took a lazy shortcut that ultimately didn’t resolve anything.
Did I have a problem with Charlotte becoming a mess of insecurities over something that wasn’t there? Of course not. In fact, one of the ongoing arcs I really liked about the show was Charlotte’s continued striving for perfection that didn’t exist. I could totally buy that she would become so caught up in being the effortlessly perfect wife and mum that she became frazzled and started seeing signs of infidelity that weren’t there. But resolving it so quickly and shallowly? Felt like they had spent too much time on Sam going out of her way to piss the Arabs off and Carrie-and-Aiden and suddenly realised they had two minutes in which to tie everything together that they forgot to, you know, write a decent ending.