As I sat in the crowded theater the other night, giddy like a schoolgirl with excitement for the latest summer blockbuster, I couldn’t help but notice…where are all the men? After all, this movie was based on that hit HBO television series and has been much ballyhooed within the entertainment rags and cable programs for well over a year. (Don’t other dudes read In Touch and watch The Daily 10 on E!?) When the movie ended (after two and a half hours and way too soon), I wiped away a few tears (of joy, of course) and tried to anticipate the storylines for a sequel: a Preston baby (Big Jr.), a Goldenblatt Bat Mitzvah, a reunion with Aidan, Berger, Aleksandr Petrovsky, Richard Wright, or even Trey McDougal? But, still I wondered…why was I one of but a handful of men in the theater, surrounded by a sea of women representing virtually every age, race, nationality, and socio-economic status? Was there some sort of stigma in seeing the quintessential “chick flick” for the ages? Aren’t there other “cool” guys like me, comfortable enough in their own masculinity and heterosexuality to admit they like Sex and the City? My name is Ron Brounes, and I am (occasionally) a writer.
In the days that followed, I received my answers. My guy friends were literally “coming out of the closet” to reveal that they enjoyed the movie as well, while sharing their opinions about how the various scenarios played out. At times, we became a bit catty as we analyzed and dissected every scene. How tacky was that bird Carrie wore in her hair at the (non-)wedding? Could we ever forgive Steve for what he did to Miranda? Wouldn’t you kill for an oversized closet like the one built out in that penthouse apartment? Don’t Anthony and Stanford make a handsome couple? Has there ever been any beverage quite as delicious and refreshing as a cosmopolitan?
Sure, Sex and the City represented the epitome of a chick flick as it focused on the dear friendships of four independent New York women. While the City itself often played a crucial role in highlighting themes of various episodes, it was secondary in nature to the underlying plots that were based on those relationships. The interaction of these “fabulous” female friends generated near universal appeal throughout Anytown, USA. Gals everywhere lived vicariously through the exploits and experiences of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, and debated amongst themselves whose lives theirs most closely resembled.
And yet, I always felt that the show offered guys a unique insight into the mindsets and complexities of women as we learned a bit more about their likes and dislikes; their passions and desires; the inhibitions and deepest secrets (or, at least, more than we could ever figure out on our own). We learned that what women say they want in men (Aidan) is often far different than what they actually want (Big). We learned that they often enjoy a good one-night stand (thanks Samantha) just as much as most guys (claim to). We learned that the phrase “just not that into you” can be just as applicable to women as it is to men. We learned that women love their shoes (and purses, scarves, hats, and other accessories). We followed the trials and tribulations of the “slut,” the “pris,” the “driven career-minded,” and Carrie (perhaps a combination of the others?) and secretly decided who would be most appealing to us. The consensus of my friends…date Samantha and marry Charlotte (especially after she converted to Judaism).
IT’S A GUY THING
We also tried to relate to the guys on the show and figure out who we were most like. Since few of my friends make their own furniture (or even own a nice tool box, for that matter), we all have a hard time relating with Aidan. (Plus, we cringed when he cried after the latest breakup with Carrie…like a real guy would ever do that!) Steve is a nice enough sort, but he is a bartender and, again, most of us would rather be served drinks than do the serving. Of course, Harry was an obvious pick for me (at least, according to my wife) because of his hairy back, sweaty nature, and Jewish heritage. (At least I still have hair on my head, Honey.) Smith was just a tad too cool and most of us would never consider dating (long-term) someone almost twice our age (even if that someone was Samantha). I was always partial to Jack Berger, Carrie’s past flame and commitment-phobe, who proved heroic to guys everywhere when he broke up with her like a real man…on a post-it note (and without any tears, Aidan). Aleksandr Petrovsky painted, sculpted, cooked, and was a ballerina in real life. (Say no more.) And, Stanford and Anthony were both just a tad too “stylish” for most of our tastes.
And then, without fail, we all saw a lot of Mr. Big in ourselves (or, at least, secretly wished we were more like him). After all, John J. Preston was the wealthy business tycoon, wildly successful in some profession, though we actually never learn what he does. (He wears a suit and reads the Wall Street Journal each day so we can assume it’s something financial.) He was quite the ladies’ man and always played it cool with the opposite sex. For a few episodes, he was even married to hotty Bridget Moynahan (eat your heart out, Tom Brady). Big seemed like the classic “guy’s guy.” Who wouldn’t love to grab a steak and scotch (or cosmo) with him, while discussing the latest business deal in search of a “can’t miss” stock tip? He would be a great guy to catch a ballgame with and he probably has some darn good seats at Yankee Stadium, the Meadowlands, and Madison Square Garden. We would love to be his wingman on a night out chasing “broads” at the latest New York City (not Brooklyn) hotspots. He seemed to have it all but, as my wife would point out, he was never truly happy without Carrie. (Actually, I suspect Big managed just fine.)
WHERE ARE ALL THE DUDE FLICKS?
While Sex and the City resonated well with women of all backgrounds, I have racked my brain trying to think of comparable programs or movies that offered similar widespread appeal for men. In my younger days, I was quite partial to the movieSwingers, though the sophomoric humor and language gave it a relatively limited cult-like following among the immature, 20-something, single crowd. (Yes, those were the days.) On a similar note, critics proclaim HBO’s Entourage as the guy’s answer to SATC, though, while highly entertaining, few of us truly can relate with the Hollywood exploits of a teenage heartthrob actor and his three freeloading buddies. Men generally enjoy shoot-em-up westerns, thrillers, sci-fi, and action movies, but they offer few glimpses of reality and we have little in common with the main characters.
I suppose the closest similarity would be Seinfeld which, despite ending its acclaimed nine-year run in 1998 (can you believe that?), still lives on in perpetuity each night in our living rooms (now in HD). While Carrie began each SATC episode narrating a passage from her latest column, Jerry started every early show with scenes from his standup routine (which, of course, was about nothing). Yes, many of us still live vicariously through the exploits and experiences of Jerry, George, Kramer, and even Newman and debate amongst ourselves whose lives ours most closely resemble. I’ve always appreciated George’s “quirkiness” (as did Marisa Tomei), but Larry David sealed the deal with his ongoing antics on Curb Your Enthusiasm (most of which I tend to agree with). Somehow, I don’t think women ever secretly fantasized about any of that motley crew. In any case, might there be a summer blockbuster with Seinfeld’s name on it any time in the future? (No, notThe Bee Movie.) Most guys would get giddy like schoolgirls just thinking about that possibility. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to remain “closeted” Sex and the City fans.