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 TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

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Sex and the City is my favorite show
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I completely agree with you. The first movie (haven't seen the second one) destroyed the wonderful ending of the series. The series finale is perfect, I never understood the importance of a movie, quality wise. In my ending, Samantha is still very much settling down for Smith, Steve never cheated and Carrie picking up the phone was her happy ending with Big..or John.
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I haven't seen the first movie and I haven't even read your article yet except the last paragraph. But I can say that the second movie was just wonderful for me and my mum! It's just sooooo brilliant. And if you've watched and loved the series then you just can't be dissapointed by it's sequel!
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I caught on after the series ended, but before the first movie. Everyone dissed it so much I was a little ashamed for liking it but I felt so connected with the characters during the show. I think I saw myself in all four women. When the first movie came out I went and saw it by myself with the biggest hopes.... The worst part is the movie didn't actually come to a close. Where the show artfully pulled everything together, the first movie tore it apart then left it open like an old wound. I don't even plan on seeing the second the movie. I don't think I could stand it.
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I never saw either movie, but planned to when they are on TV -with this review, I may have done better to avoid them. There is SOO much for me to Tivo in the meantime that I will not miss any ... as to spoiled b###es, there are so many "real" ones lately - who needs more?
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I don't understand it. I did not even bother to read the rest of your article after the first paragraph . Why would you say that the show was a train wreck. It was a most enjoyable show and I wish you stupid movie critics would just shut up already.
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You`re absolutely, totally 100% right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and no only with SATC, with all the others movies). I hate when they end perfectly the show and then ruin everything on tv. Thank God there's some people that thinks like I do.
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I couldn't agree more.
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I haven't seen SATC2 yet, as I will not pay $12+ to see something I can see in three months for a couple of bucks on Netflix. I do generally like show-to movie adaptations, good and bad ones included. (I am still waiting for that Gilmore Girls movie.) I did like the first SATC movie, however, I felt that should have been the end.
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I was a sporadic watcher of the series and only watched the movie when my Blockbuster queue ran out and was really surprised to find I enjoyed the movie much more than any of the series. From what I understand this one is a Hype Too Far, and it has not made it to my Blockbuster list.
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I completely agree with this. The series ended perfectly and I would have been content with that. It's that old adage of "leave your audience wanting more". They tied up loose ends in a satisfying way, but then they decided to give us more -- what we thought we wanted. I worry about this same thing if they ever cave in and make a Lost movie... it's a little different because the ending didn't quite wrap everything up in a neat little bow, but a movie could kill the ending it did have, just like the movies did to SATC. I like to think of the movies as fan-fiction spin-offs and pretend they never happened.
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I LOVED the show, the first movie too, the second movie premieres in Denmark tonight! YAY!

Reading this article I now know I will LOVE the second movie too - thank you for that!! ;o)
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the first movie gave the finale a more real ending. i liked it. but the second movie yes was an awful train wreck offensive, racist, unfunny... they should have stopped witht he first one totally ruined it for me
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I loved the show, but have never watched the movies and never will, precisely for that reason - I just know they would spoil my perfect happy ending.
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i hated the movie, and the show, you know why? CUZ IM A DUDE.
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If the show ends as the writers plan it to and when they plan it to, then there really is no need for a movie. But when there is a series that is cancelled on a cliffhanger with no resolution to lingering storylines, then a movie is good in order to give closure to fans. Sex and the City ended because the cast and writers felt that it was time. The story ended with everyone having their storlyines closed. The movies just opened them back up and messed with them. Movies would be more apt for shows with fan bases that want closure for a show that was cancelled before a true finale could be written.
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I loved the first and second movies. Yes the show ended beautifully but just like in REAL life things changed. I liked that Samantha ended up single thats the type of person she is and ALWAYS was. We should be thankful to get continuations some shows out there like Angel don't end that great and don't get an actual continuation with our beloved actors.
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24 is story driven, action and conspiracy, which are probably the basic elements of movies. Sex and the city is character driven and there will never be an end to their stories unless the characters get killed off. In a way, doing the Sex and the City movies are a real, cheap way to milk the name.
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I think it would be ok for 24 because unlike sex and the city 24 is not entirely based on the characters. They could easily find a story that would not jeopardize everything they did with the characters for 8 years. As for sex and the city, i've never understood why this kind of tv show would need a movie adaptation anyway.
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Has anyone noticed that the fashion has been too over the top in these movies. On the tv show, Carrie and the girls wore nice cloths every once in a while (and carrie always had expensive shoes on) but when Carrie hung out in her apartment she wore t-shirt and short shorts, why does she not do this in the movies. The cloths are distracting not only because they are mostly ugly but they are apparently really really expensive. What type of lawyer is Miranda to afford those cloths, my sister is a corp. lawyer and she does not spend that much on cloths.
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Louis, you have taken my thoughts and put them into words. I am a straight male who liked sex and the city not for the fashion, not for the romance, but for the truth. (and because for a while when i had HBO, i watched all the series they had ondemand which is how i also came to love The Sopranos and Six Feet Under)
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Agreed, but u r such a drama queen!!!
At least in this article...
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ugh - it sounds awful. I liked the show up until the second last season. I never even bothered to watch the finale. but I did see the movie (1) and it was sooooo boring.
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I personally don't even like the show and have no plans to see the movies.
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More like Menopause and Abu Dabi!!!!!!
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Sex and the City - more like Sexism and the City...

The nation's critics and journalists are unleashing all their anti-feminist vitriol on the latest Sex sequel.

Check out a really interesting blog piece on the Carrie Bradshaw backlash - and its origins... http://www.remotepatrolled.com/2010/05/sexism-and-the-city/
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I was a minority amongst my friends because this, like Friends and Will & Grace, was a show they all watched and loved (and laughed and cried) and I NEVER SAW THE APPEAL. Four spoiled brats of women sh$%*ing their way through New York while somehow finding time to fit work into their social lives - so NOT FUNNY.............saw it all before in other much better and outright classier shows (This Life and thirtysomething just for starters). How it ever lasted six seasons and now two films is just beyond my understanding but then again Friends somehow managed to pull off ten years!!!
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I didn't see the show but just a few parts and it was good.
I would never see the movies when the accepted purpose is just to show clothes.
It's more or less what the stars said.
And it's not about being 12 yo.
Shows have their storylines and they go to one direction for, in this case, years. After that is fullfilled then come up with movies doing the opposite throwing away what they've been trying to accomplish on TV.
THAT makes no sense.
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My opinion is that we should not have twelve year olds writing reviews. The movie is showing how life changes. Of course you want a career one minute and not the next. You grow up and idea of how you life should be changes.
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Meh, the show in general was overrated
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