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Sex and the City


It seems sacrilegious to follow Cara’s post on Pride & Prejudice with one on Sex and the City, but I finally saw it this weekend and can’t resist the urge to discuss it with you. I promise to do my best to stay on topic!

I will not discuss Carrie’s wedding dress. Or the possible hazards of sleeping in pearls. Or gladiator shoes. Or those horrific pants Samantha wears to the shower. I will not talk about the studded belt, or even about those gorgeous blue Manolos. No, I won’t talk about any of these things!

What I’d like to talk about is predictability. Many of the official reviews of the film were negative and the single biggest complaint I noticed was that the plot was predictable. Yet many fans rave about this film and I loved it too. Apparently, predictability isn’t the biggest issue for many people.

I think what saved it for fans is that they love the characters. The series established Carrie and her friends so well that we know all their flaws and quirks and can guess what challenges they’re going to face as their relationships progress. But we still like spending time with them.

Being a writer, I couldn’t help thinking about what might have been done to make the plot less predictable. Frankly, I was stumped. This was very much a character-driven series. It’s not like a mystery or action/adventure series where you can vary things by introducing a new villain or new threat to world peace or whatever. The surprises in a series like this come from revealing new aspects of character. But with these characters we’ve passed many of the big revelations. It’s more of a gradual evolution now as they don’t change so much as become more themselves.

To have Carrie, her friends and their men behave unpredictably one would likely have to have them go out of character, which would have bothered fans of the series far more. To me, predictability seems a lesser crime than being untrue to your characters.

In a standalone film or novel, this isn’t as much of an issue because the viewer or reader doesn’t already know the main characters and it’s easier to create surprises as layers get peeled away. But at some point, some readers (especially those who are also writers) can often predict what the characters’ Black Moment is going to be and even how it might end. It’s hard to keep the characterization true and also surprise a reader who takes the time to step back and make predictions. I aim for that but I also hope that my readers will become so engaged with my characters that they start seeing that world through the characters’ eyes. Then hopefully they’ll ache along with them and forget that they know better.

So what do you think about predictability in stories? If you saw it, did you enjoy SATC? And do you love these shoes as much as I do? (They’re only about $1000. A bargain, right?)

Elena
www.elenagreene.com

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Lindsey
14 years ago

I imagine a lot of us read romance because we like a certain amount of familiarity and predictability – we know the h/h will get their HEA. So for me it’s all about compelling conflict and the need for character growth – which is where S&TC fell a bit short for me. I thought the Carrie/Big conflict felt a bit manufactured, without asking for much growth or sacrifice from either of them before it resolved (though it just seemed to take forever). But overall I thought the movie was a ton of fun – even if it lacked some of the bite from the series.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

Well, there’s predictability and then there’s predictability. Predictability as in all romances have an HEA, and predictability as in copycat stories. If I think I already know the story I feel cheated. I do want to see the journey to the HEA, and a slightly different route to it.

Linda Banche

Kalen Hughes
14 years ago

For $1K you could buy a nice pair of heels and an antique set of shoe buckles! I’m just saying . . .

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
14 years ago

I agree that there is predictable, and then there is predictable. The Big/Carrie conflict felt forced and I thought that Carrie being able to get her apartment back so easily was forced. Nothing happened to Charlotte whatsoever, apart from her little mishap in Mexico. Even the Steve/Miranda conflict seemed forced. The movie took forever and nothing had really changed from the beginning of the movie. Carrie had no real professional conflicts apart from writer’s block, and that didn’t seem to be a problem either. I enjoyed the movie because it was nice to see the women again and to enjoy their friendship, but then again I could have just watched the show on DVD for that.

Janet Mullany
14 years ago

I must admit to a certain curiosity about the movie, but I did feel with the series that it was a lot more fun in the beginning when it didn’t take itself too seriously. I found the clothes endlessly fascinating, particularly Carrie’s hideous, oops, cutting-edge outfits.

I always thought Carrie’s relationship problems could have been 90% solved if she’d only taken her bra off in bed. I mean, have you ever slept (let alone do anything else) in an underwire bra?

And the men–ugh–for the most part as buffed, hairless and perfect as romance cover models (except for Charlotte’s lovely [second] husband).

I think a lot of the appeal of the movie has to be nostalgia, visiting the girls and their fairytale NYC again.

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

I do love the blue Manolos, and I also loved Carrie’s Eiffel Tower purse! But I didn’t care for the movie as a whole. I found myself checking my watch much too often and wishing (like Elizabeth) that I had just waited for the DVD! It felt too plot-driven, by which I mean the characters were forced to fit into the plot rather than vice versa. Maybe some things are just meant to stay in a short, episodic format.

But I do really enjoy mystery book series where we meet the characters (and they get into unbelievable situations where they must solve yet another crime!) again and again….

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

I loved the movie, far more so, because I hadn’t seen much of the series, so I knew the characters but couldn’t catch the discrepancies; best of both worlds. Of course, it was going to be a romance, of course Samantha was going to throw over her boy-toy, of course, of course, of course. With predictability, I can give myself over completely to enjoying the details without worrying over big picture items and inconsistencies.

To that end, the movie entertained, made me laugh, and I went home a satisfied viewer.

The clothes, for the most part, were great, the shoes fabulous. That blue of the Manolos–wow! I firmly doubt I’m ever going to own a pair of $1000 shoes, but I can definitely admire ’em.

Cara King
14 years ago

Kalen wrote:

For $1K you could buy a nice pair of heels and an antique set of shoe buckles! I’m just saying . . .

Well, I’m just saying that, for that money, you could see Iron Man in the theater a hundred times! Or sixty times with popcorn. All while wearing comfortable thrift store duds in a rainbow of colors… 😉

Cara

Elena Greene
14 years ago

For $1K you could buy a nice pair of heels and an antique set of shoe buckles! I’m just saying . . .

I love that idea! Wish I had time to try something like that before RWA but… Must. Finish. Manuscript.

Agree with everyone re the Carrie/Big conflict and yet it could have been far stupider. I would’ve been very annoyed if for example they had him considering getting back to Natasha or something like that!

LOL on the bra, Janet.

Though I disagree about the men. Yeah, some looked over-polished (espec Charlotte’s first but I think he was supposed to be that way) but I think Steve has a very appealing smile. I also like John Corbett but more the way he was in Northern Exposure than the way he was in SATC.

To that end, the movie entertained, made me laugh, and I went home a satisfied viewer.

Keira, I felt the same way. And about the clothes–so many were gorgeous and when they were occasionally hideous they were at least interestingly so. At the point Samantha wore those awful pants she was supposed to be gaining weight, but I think anyone would have looked fat in them!

Well, I’m just saying that, for that money, you could see Iron Man in the theater a hundred times! Or sixty times with popcorn. All while wearing comfortable thrift store duds in a rainbow of colors… 😉

LOL, Cara. Not too long ago I would’ve agreed with you but at some point in my forties a latent shoe gene kicked in. 🙂

Suzy
Suzy
14 years ago

I’ve got to admit that I am reversed…I’d never seen the TV program although my daughter talked about it alot. The movie was my first full exposure (pun intended). I loved it! Part of it I can say honestly was the wonderful clothes, and being in NYC, and the comraderie that they had. I loved the scene in the taxi when Carrie tells off Miranda even though its Miranda who she has been closest too during her difficult post wedding debacle period.
Predictability is inherent in romance, but a few twist and great writing make it all worthwhile…oh and humor!

Louisa Cornell
14 years ago

Having seen neither the series nor the movie I really can’t comment. I do like a story with strong women who are friends and genuinely like each other. Too many times in real life that just isn’t true. I think that is why I love being a part of the romance writing community. In my limited experience, everyone has been so kind, helpful, and encouraging and that makes for a great “girlfriend” feel to my romance writing entree.

I don’t like predictable stories. Of course I want the HEA, but if you can put me through some all new trauma to get me there I am a happy camper.

Oh, and Elena, if I HAD a spare 1K those shoes would be MINE MINE MINE!! In my singing days I was quite the shoes collector.

Todd
14 years ago

Can’t comment on the movie, which I didn’t see, and I only saw a few episodes of the series. I do agree that predictability is rather in the eye of the beholder–some genres use and reuse the same elements over and over, but good writers can keep them fresh. Even with well-known characters, life can throw them unanticipated curves. And, on the flip side, when you see the big twist coming a mile away and could practically make up the dialogue yourself, that can get kind of boring.

So while I don’t know how to define what makes a work “too predictable,” I guess I know it when I see it. Though, as I started by saying, in this case I didn’t see it, so I don’t know it.

Hmm. Is that all clear?

My main opinion about shoes is that they should be worn on the feet and not on the hands, whereas with gloves it’s the other way around.

Todd-who-wishes-he-could-predict-how-his-own-comments-are-going-to-come-out

Lois
14 years ago

Alas, I totally forgot about the P&P discussion on Tuesday, gosh darn it. . . but with the idea of predictability, I agree with what I already see listed here, the idea that’s why we read any romances, because we know what’s going to happen, but we want to see how they get there. And we go see Jane Austen movies because we know precisely what’s going to happen, we just want to see how they botch it up. 😉

As for anything Sex and the City, over here I’m not a fan, but I’m so lost as to the clothes for most of them, especially Carrie/Sarah Jessica Parker. Huh, how is it people think this is terrific stuff? But then I think that for most of the Oscar/Emmy/Daytime Emmy/Golden Globes. . . I like the fashions of older Hollywood, in those black and white days personally.

Which is funny since I’m only 31, but hey, to each his own and all the other cliches. 😉

Lois

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