Wayback Wednesday: Sex and the City (2008)

I couldn’t help but wonder…do we HAVE to acknowledge the terrible sequel?

With the premiere of the sequel series And Just Like That… (2021) right around the corner, I could think of no movie more appropriate for this week’s Wayback than Sex and the City (2008), the big screen adaptation of the beloved TV series of the same name. If like me you were a young gay boy growing into adolescence during the late 2000s, chances are you caught episodes of Sex and the City (1998 – 2004) on Cosmo or Slice and watched them in secret while wishing your life could be just as fabulous. Fabulosity is not the only thing young Luke got a lesson in from watching the exploits of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Let’s just say that I learned more about sexuality and relationships from that show than 14 years of Catholic school combined. While the series may not have endured as one of my favourite shows, the movie surprisingly does rank up there as one of my all-time favourite movies. Yes, I am completely unapologetic about that. 

Credit: imdb.com / Warner Bros. Pictures

Based on the TV series of the same name, Sex and the City follows Carrie Bradshaw, a successful author, and her three best friends as they navigate love and life in New York City. As Carrie prepares to marry her longtime boyfriend Mr. Big, she believes that she is finally getting her happy ending. But when the unthinkable happens, it takes the support of her friends to pick up the pieces of her life and piece them back together. 

As far as big screen adaptations of TV series go, for me, Sex and the City ranks up there with Pokémon: The First Movie (1998) and Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) as one of the best. By the way, check out my reviews for those movies, here and here. Like those adaptations, the movie version of Sex and the City is great because it takes everything fans know and love about the series and supersizes it into a two and a half hour adventure that feels like a natural progression story-wise. When we pick up with the girls, through that inspired book-themed opening montage, the stage of their lives each one is in feels so on brand for where their characters would be four years later.  Everyone has grown and evolved and their lives have changed so much from where they started and yet each character is still written in a way that feels thoroughly true to themselves. The characterizations are spot on which is so gratifying. 

Probably because Michael Patrick King, who was a producer on the original series, is the writer and director of this movie. It’s incredibly fortunate and rare to have someone who was such a key figure in a show to helm the movie version and King’s involvement is a big part of what makes Sex and the City such a winner. King does such a fantastic job of telling the four very different stories of the four very different women over the course of a year while still connecting a common thread through them all. The deep dive he takes into exploring the development of each of the ladies and their relationships is so interesting. In true Sex and the City fashion, many varied and valid points about relationships are made. Plus, the movie is witty, stylish, full of great-looking sets…again, everything fans loved about the original series just on a bigger scale. 

One of the great things about this first Sex and the City movie is that there was still at least some semblance of relatability. The biggest problem with the sequel is that there was too much luxury and glamour which is so unlike what the characters were used to for most of the series. The second one lost touch with why we fell in love with these characters and their stories in the first place. It was more like an episode of The Real Housewives. The second one is visually expensive but emotionally cheap and lacking in value. This first movie however feels so much more authentic. From innuendo-laden discussions about sex in their favourite diner to seeking personal advice during shopping trips, the heart, compassion and friendship between the characters is always on full display. Dang. Delicious-looking brunches, shopping trips to cool stores…nothing makes me want to stimulate the economy more than the world of Sex and the City. When I was in high school I even dreamed about having a Sex and the City kind of life. One full of good food, good clothes and good times. I need to get back to working on that!

In the end, the movie, just like the show, is about love. Loving a significant other, loving your friends and loving yourself. It’s just usually hidden behind a campy veneer of designer clothes, cocktails and silliness. But love is at the centre of Sex and the City and that’s made blatantly clear in the New Year’s Eve montage. That scene always makes me feel such joy! This is low-key one of my comfort movies. The fact that I don’t own this movie on DVD is a crime. 

Watching Sex and the City is also like watching a fashion show. The franchise has always been known for its incredible style and there isn’t a single thing I could say about the costuming that hasn’t been said already. Okay, I will actually just say this: I’m not one to knock the iconic Patricia Field when it comes to fashion, but damn…2008 really was the era of of the chunky belt, huh? If you took a shot every time a character in this movie wears an outfit paired with a chunky belt, I guarantee you’ll be hammered in the first 30 minutes. Speaking of fashion, am I the only one who was actually a fan of the suit Carrie originally picked out for the wedding? It was so cute, classic and totally Carrie. I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw when I was younger. Not for the questionable relationship or moral choices, but for her career trajectory! Hello, being able to afford a jaw-dropping lifestyle on one weekly column and having multiple job offers fall in her lap? Yes please! Wait, I’m having a revelation: Do I owe my job as a writer to Carrie Bradshaw? I’d love to emulate her publishing history but I could do without being jilted by my own Mr. Big. 

COULD YOU IMAGINE IF ANYONE, LET ALONE A MAN WITH A HISTORY LIKE BIG’S LEFT YOU UP AT THE ALTAR?! What Big does is despicable and so in line with his character. Carrie was right. She should have known he would do this. That being said, I do love the romantic, super sweet, intimate ending to this movie. The celebration of love, friendship and moving into the future legitimately makes me so happy and it may actually be one of my all-time favourite movie endings. Also, both the writing and the delivery of the line, “sweetie, you shit your pants this year. Maybe you’re done,” is perhaps one of my all-time favourite lines from a movie ever. 

Whether you’re watching it out of genuine love or just laughing at the tropes and silliness of a flashy romantic-comedy, Sex and the City is a perfect movie for both a cozy night at home by yourself or a fun night in with your friends. If you understand the true message and joy that is to be had by watching Sex and the City, trust me, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Finally, let me just say this: I love that Jennifer Hudson had literally just won an Oscar for Dreamgirls (2006) – check out my review, here – and then was like, “fuck yeah I’ll play a supporting character in the Sex and the City movie!”

Are you a fan of Sex and the City?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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