Jen Zug reviews “Sex and the City”

I wanted to invite a guest to review Sex and the City, since I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. And, hearing general disgruntlement among most of the guys who chat about movies with me every day, I wanted to ask a woman to share her perspective. And not just any woman, but a thoughtful moviegoer whose perspective would give us some insight into what the film has to offer.

So, ladies and gentlement, Jen Zug:

I went to see Sex and the City on opening night with – who else? – a girlfriend while our husbands washed the dinner dishes, kept the kids alive, and played Lego Star Wars on the Wii. To add cliche upon cliche, we went out for drinks after the movie, and had Cosmopolitans.

My friend and I both enjoyed the movie, though she sighed at the end and said, “That was exhausting – I’m used to Sex and the City at thirty minute increments!” At two and a half hours it was long, but frankly I didn’t notice the length in the moment – only after I checked my watch as we left the theater.

The ladies were out in packs and dressed to the nines. Spirits were high in the ladies room as we complimented each other on our sexy shoes and tight jeans – the “costume” of a true fan. Camaraderie in the bathroom line is not something I experienced after seeing Iron Man last week.

As a fan of the original HBO series, I was happy the movie stuck to the same tone and themes – friendship, love, and sense of self, against the backdrop of frivolity and ambition. We were given everything we loved about the show, plus a great soundtrack.

Picking up four years later, life seems rosy for all the girls at first, until Steve admits to having cheated on Miranda; Carrie and Big fall into the idea of getting married, and Samantha gets a new neighbor that knows how to turn up the California heat, if you know what I mean.

Charlotte escapes any major life trauma (apart from an embarrassing episode involving bodily function), and discovers she is pregnant after years of being “reproductively challenged.” But her happiness is not portrayed as trite. She has everything she’s always wanted, but she uses this knowledge for good instead of evil. Her contentment and stability are like an anchor, a sign post to show the rest of us that healthy, happy, monogamous relationships can happen, and that they produce happy and well adjusted people.

I loved how her sweet and polite spirit turned into the fierceness of a mama bear protecting her cubs – gentle and encouraging to her own, yet forceful and clearly capable of tearing your limbs off should you threaten one of her own. Her intensity made me tear up during one pivotal scene, and I became a big fan of Charlotte in that moment – more than I ever was in the series.

What most struck me was the clear theme of forgiveness throughout the movie. Will Miranda forgive Steve? Will Carrie forgive Big? Will friends forgive one another? And it never seemed like the simple answer, because how does one climb out of a hole dug by complex relationships, bitterness, baggage, and backstory? What happens in the end may have been predictable, but the complicated middle is what gives the story maturity.

I respect where Carrie ends up. I respect Samantha’s decision. I respect the choice Miranda makes. I believe the movie’s ending because no one gets there without admitting her own responsibility in the chain of events, and no one gets there independently. Every decision made – every outcome – was because a friend told a truth that wasn’t easy to hear. In this, they spoke to the power of true community.

I don’t see this movie as a classic masterpiece, but it’s deeper than a lot of people give it credit for. Fans will appreciate the intimate, insider feeling of the private party – it plays as if made as a special gift just for us. As for everyone else, you may not catch all the subtle nuances, you may not get caught up in the emotional roller coaster ride of history repeating itself, but if you give it a chance you may find something in it that feels familiar.

As Believers we may disagree with many of the lifestyle choices of these characters, but if we allow ourselves to be blinded by what we disapprove of, we have no way of seeing through to the hearts of others and what they struggle with. When it comes to real life, to the people around us at our jobs or social circles, can we see past the actions and choices and find a way to identify with them – to love, encourage, challenge, and support?

Contemplating these questions is how I am able to love Sex and the City and Jesus, all at the same time.


Jen Zug
One Woman, Many Piles, Much Grace

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  • Indeed. If you read Manohla Dargis’s review in The New York Times, or look up the film at Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll find that there are women who can’t stand the film.

    Cinematical had a review from a big fan of the show who hated the film as well.

    So no, clearly there is no representative “woman’s perspective.”

    Please, folks… feel free to link to other reviews. I’m fascinated by the debate growing about this. Is the film condoning the characters’ materialism? Is it turning them into characters whose contentment depends upon men?

  • petertchattaway

    “The” woman’s perspective? There’s only one?

  • I think it’s good that you’re posting both negative and positive reviews of this movie. I used to not really be a big fan of the TV show, but because I have a close friend who really loves it (yes, she’s a woman), we’ve been watching episodes together recently and I’ve found a new appreciation for the show, much more than I had before.

    The people who complain about the rampant materialism and frivolity are missing the point – the incredibly strong friendship that anchors everything around which the chaotic world of New York world spins at a dizzying pace, and the fact is that there ARE people who live these extravagant lives. When people criticize it for this it reminds me of people who criticize movies in general for having some swear words or maybe a sex scene – as if Jesus would never want us to “tarnish” our souls by hearing a “damn” or a “hell,” or heaven forbid, a “s**t.” Though these should be cautionary, they should never, in any way, be taken as a sole reason for making a movie bad. People swear, people have sex, *and* people indulge in materialist, consumerist lives. These people are people just like the rest of us, and why should they not get cinematic treatment too?

    Though I have gained new appreciation for the show, I still would not call myself a fan, but all the positivie reviews I’ve heard about this movie have intrigued me despite myself. I don’t think I’ve seen enough about the TV show to get a full appreciation for the movie, but who knows? That’s what DVD’s are for.

  • Great review! Thanks for bringing the women’s perspective into this discussion.

    As another SATC fan and believer and viewer of the film, I think Jen makes a great case for the redemptive meaning in the film. It’s been a couple days since I’ve seen the movie, and the messages about forgiveness have stuck with me in very powerful ways. I can’t point to many movies that have worked that way on me recently.