Sex and the City: So Much For My Happy Ending

Do I need to tell you that Sex and the City 2 is horrible? Probably not. Either you saw it and hated it, or you saw it and liked it (really?), or you’ve read enough hilariously damning reviews to know that it’s a colossal train wreck. But let’s move on. This is a TV site, and I want to focus less on my opinion of the film—it's 146 minutes of torture—and more on how it affects our perception of the series.

Because, believe it or not, I loved Sex and the City the show. It was a terrific blend of comedy, drama, and romance: I laughed, I cried, I cursed myself for being the Miranda. The series gave us great love stories and great fashion, but most importantly great characters. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) may have looked like archetypes at first—those first few episodes were a little iffy—but they grew and developed over six wonderful seasons.

It all culminated in a stunning, tear-jerky finale. (I cried. A lot.) Charlotte got the baby she’d always wanted, Miranda learned the true meaning of love and family, Samantha discovered that monogamy wasn’t the end of the world, and Carrie ended up with Mr. Big (Chris Noth). It was a truly fitting conclusion for the series—rich, emotional, and most importantly, well-earned.

Then came the first movie, and everything went to hell. Carrie and Mr. Big broke up after a failed wedding. Steve (David Eigenberg) cheated on Miranda. Samantha dumped Smith (Jason Lewis). And Charlotte—well, Charlotte was OK, but she’s honestly always been a little boring. Oh, yes, everything turned out fine in the end, but there was plenty of strife and heartbreak along the way. And why? Because films need conflict. Sex and the City: The Movie was destined to stir things up.

That’s why I found it so frustrating. The movie cheapened the satisfaction of the series finale. And that’s putting it kindly—for the first two hours before everyone’s differences were resolved, the film destroyed our heroines’ happily ever after. Audiences clamor for movie adaptations of their favorite TV shows because they’re not ready to say goodbye to the characters. But at what cost? If a series wraps up its story lines, as Sex and the City so artfully did, a film is bound to screw things up. Did we need to see Steve sleep with another woman, or Samantha admit that she wasn’t the settling-down type? I could have lived without that.

Sex and the City 2 offers more of the same. Remember that stability Carrie craved in the series? Now she’s bored with it. Miranda’s important career? Suddenly a burden. The same goes for Charlotte’s perfect family, because, you know, babies cry. And despite how many Suzanne Somers-approved hormones Samantha pops, she’s aging.

Now, when I think of the show’s pitch-perfect finale, I’m forced to deal with the five-hour (!) epilogue that the movies have forced on us. I resent that. I resent what’s become of the characters I once loved. Carrie complains when Big buys her a brand new TV because it’s not jewelry. Charlotte wonders out loud how mothers survive without full-time help. And suddenly all the people who said the series presented nothing but spoiled, shallow women are vindicated.

I’m not saying I have changed my opinion on the show. It’s still great TV, and no matter how many dreadful sequels Michael Patrick King manages to pump out, he can’t take that away from me. But my memories have been tainted, the girls’ images irreparably tarnished. Like every Sex and the City fan, I wanted more when the series ended. I guess the lesson is, be careful what you wish for. Or perhaps more accurately, let sleeping TV shows lie.

I would have been happier with just those 94 episodes. I think the girls would have, too.

How do you feel about TV show-to-movie adaptations that force you to consider what happened after the series finale? Especially with a 24 flick on the way?

Follow writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

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