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“Sex and the City 2”: Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why they hate us.

“Sex and the City 2”: Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why they hate us. (photo)

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A friend describes the “Sex and the City” films as “Ladies’ ‘Star Wars.'” The description isn’t far off the mark — not just because the TV series and the spinoff films are critic-proof revenue-generators, but also because Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gal pals inhabit a universe so far removed from anything resembling reality that it might as well be science fiction.

Picking up where the second film left off — as if there were a story! — “Sex 2” revolves around Carrie’s two-year-old and suddenly troubled marriage to the twice-divorced older hunk, Big (Chris Noth). And of course it features perfunctory detours into the lives of Carrie’s best friends, Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who’s over 50, still sexed-up, and ingesting dozens of vitamins a day; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), who’s struggling with a sexist boss and the demands of the domestic life that her work life forces her to neglect; and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), who’s feeling beaten up by her life as a mom and worrying that her husband is about to have an affair with their big-titted Irish nanny.

But really — surprise! — the film is all about the clothes, the food, and the real estate. Aside from a couple of moments that briefly remind you of the character- and acting-based charm that redeemed the series — for instance, Miranda and Charlotte’s drunken admissions that a lot of the time, being a parent flat-out sucks — this film, like its predecessor, buries the smoldering embers of its nearly extinguished humanity beneath a mountain of gaudy baubles.

The ladies model hyper-expensive, often stunningly tacky dresses, shoes and hats (including a Carrie chapeau that looks like a smashed popover made of wicker), dine in expensive restaurants, drink at hip bars, and lounge around apartments that are characterized in dialogue and voice-over as modest even though they’re big enough to house the mother ship from “Close Encounters.” (Carrie’s closet in the apartment she shares with Big has a center aisle wide enough for a comfy bench.)

And at the 40-minute mark, writer-director Michael Patrick King ratchets the excess up several notches by sending the gals on a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Samantha has been invited on an all-expenses-paid fact-finding mission to help a sheik craft a PR campaign for his a luxury hotel. Everything — plot, characterization, simple exposition — ceases for several minutes so that Carrie and friends can be presented with fabulous bedrooms, a fabulous private bar, a fabulous kitchen, and fabulous hunky man servants and luxury cars. (Although these scenes take place in the United Arab Emirates, they were shot in Morocco. But they still constitute what might be a movie first: product placement for a country.)

05262010_SexandtheCity2-15.jpgLike the characters’ customary melodramas back in the States, only more so, the Abu Dhabi folderol is inoculated against any possibility of real discomfort, however comic and momentary. Except for a few fleeting touches, such as Charlotte’s disclosure that she’s decided not to use her married name, Goldenblatt, on this trip, the movie erects (ahem) a wall between the ladies and their far-away playground, providing the women with a team of visiting Australian soccer players to ogle, giving Carrie a visiting (white) American ex-boyfriend to flirt with, and contriving a romance between Samantha and a Dutch tycoon named Dick Spyrt. (God forbid that nice American girls should get it on with beautiful Muslim boys!)

The final comic setpiece — which finds the heroines escaping faux-peril in a bazaar by dressing in burqas — is indeed offensive, not because Abu Dhabi has been characterized as a huge adult amusement park for rich, Botoxed white ladies (that’s how “Sex and the City” treated New York, remember?) but because of the moment when the film diminishes the complex and culturally deep-rooted gender apartheid of fundamentalist Muslim society by having a group of Muslim women strip off their traditional garb to reveal Carrie-approved Western haute couture underneath. As lighthearted sight gags go, it’s a few degrees removed from the moment in “Full Metal Jacket” when an officer declares that inside every gook there’s an American trying to get out.

05262010_SexandtheCity2-12.jpgStung, perhaps, by complaints that the first “Sex” film was aggressively insensitive to American financial hardship circa 2008, the sequel peppers its dialogue with references to financial struggle. But from my perspective (and a lot of people’s, I’d wager) they’re “struggles” on par with trying to find a parking spot on a busy avenue during lunch hour.

Carrie tried to sell her amazing bachelorette pad, but she couldn’t find a buyer, so she had to keep it (and it comes in handy when she decides she needs to escape Big’s passive-aggressive homebody sourness). We also learn that Carrie and Big traded their penthouse apartment for a seemingly identical-sized place a few floors lower in the same building. The horror!


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.