So last week, I went to see “The Help,” but this is not about that, I promise. Rather, this is about a preview I saw before seeing the feature film. The trailer in question starred none other than Hollywood’s beloved Sarah Jessica Parker.
The film, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” is based off the 2002 novel by Allison Pearson. Mainly a study in working mom dilemmas, the book and the film speak to a specific but growing demographic: power mothers. To be clear, though SJP’s character, Kate Reddy, is a Caucasian woman in her early forties, the profile of the power mother is not limited by race. There are today women of all shades who fit that profile and have been power mothers since before there was even a label for the gig.
In the trailer, Kate Reddy runs us through the hectic whirlwind that is her life. Being a worker, being a wife, being a mother and often in no order at all. In fact, this lack of order is the movies central conflict: how does a woman like that keep so many balls in the air? It’s not too far out of the mold of Hollywood’s working wife and mother- from Betty Draper to Kris Kardashian- viewers have become acclimated to the woman who juggles between her family, her work and herself. And while all do it with varying degrees of success, we know that this is their conflict and we watch accordingly. My viewing experience is hampered by one thing though and it was my ability to connect. Because while the trailer ran all I could see was Carrie, Carrie, Carrie.
Now let me put a disclaimer out there: I am not a “Sex And The City” hater. I think the series was good enough, the movies were marketing machines and that they speak to a lot of the issues single women face even if they are not always spot on or inclusive in thinking about a demographic other than fabulously wealthy white women. The truth is what I cannot doubt is that SATC is a cultural phenomenon. It was the sitcom that encapsulated the experience of many American women or at least what they wished their journey could be. And there’s no fault in that- after all who doesn’t want an endless wardrobe, seemingly non-existent work schedule and almost wedding at New York’s Public Library. Well, maybe not the “almost” but you get the point. SATC wasn’t about realism, it was an escape and if you’re going to be away from reality why not splurge a little?
The problem with the marketing behind “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” is it takes an actress most recognizable for playing the single heroine of fabulocity and privilege and then tries to input her from our escape to our reality. And in the real world, Carrie’s to-do list is laughable at best. As The Huffington Post pointed out in a critique of the movie’s posters:
To be fair, this working mom rom-com looks like it’ll delight SJP’s fans, but we couldn’t get over how funny Ms. Carrie Bradshaw looks next to a laundry list of seemingly normal activities accompanied by such an incredulous phrase. How does she do it? As any working mom (or anyone who’s ever had to finish a presentation, make dinner reservations, go to a PTA meeting AND check email all in one day) can tell you: it’s called life.
Maybe it’s that she played a carefree single gal for a decade that has me thrown but looking at the poster I had to laugh. I mean my mother, a wife, business owner and mother was often so busy when I was growing up that dinner reservations were not even on a list of things to do. For my childhood friend who grew up with a single mom, that list was doubled as it couldn’t be shared with anyone. And while every woman’s struggle is different, a movie that asks “how does she do it?” should at least be less than a mockery of the women whose lives prompt real cause for the question.
Now just as predictable as it is that SJP will land on some magazines’ September cover, I am sure that this film will have box office success. For droves of women, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” will mark the next chapter in the life of Mrs. Carrie Bradshaw, if for no other reason but to tide the time until there is a SATC part three. But for power mothers, odds are this SJP in a muted pallet of business casual and wool coats will seem less of a heroin than she did in her glitter mixed concrete fantasy and Manolo strewn life.
What do you think of SJP’s new role in the upcoming “I Don’t Know How She Does It” film? Is it believable to you or are you still suffering from Carrie fever? Weigh in Clutchettes and gents- let’s discuss!