Our world is filled with everyday hassles and problems. Do the laundry, pay the bills, go to work, take out the trash, cook dinner, find time to work out – and this is just from a single girl’s point of view. The list more than doubles if you add husbands and children into the mix, which is something Sarah Jessica Parker emphasizes in her latest movie, I Don’t Know How She Does It.
The movie promises to give us a look into the modern working woman and how she learns to balance a career and family. But can we really trust SJP’s assessment of this real life juggling act? As I was researching on IMDB I went through the list of Ms. Parker’s career and realized that she has a tendency to glorify what are normally considered as stressful situations. She seems to do this in whatever role she plays, which makes her character’s problems not only unbelievable, but hard to relate to as well. Let’s take a look back on some of Parker’s most well-known roles and examine the evidence. Can we really trust her portrayal in her latest role or will it be just another romanticized scenario?
In her most infamous role in her entire career, Parker “carried” on for six seasons on this show (and two movies) as the shopaholic sex column writer, Carrie Bradshaw. We couldn’t blame her for falling for Big — time and time again — and her rendezvous with her favorite girlfriends made us all long for our college BFFs. But some aspects of Carrie’s lifestyle didn’t always add up. While we envied her incredible wardrobe and her elegant nights on the town in the Big Apple, one had to wonder where all the money was coming from…
Carrie didn’t start freelancing for Vogue until near the end of the series and her column didn’t pay her that much money, so how was she was still able to afford such an elaborate lifestyle? This is not how things really work. Speaking for all single girls who live in the city, if you’re living alone on the upper east side with that much space and that much closet room, your salary isn’t going to be that of a columnist’s. But that was Carrie’s job on the show, and so it was really hard to watch her write one column a week and take cabs everywhere and buy numerous pairs of $400 shoes per week when she got paid PER WORD. It was not a fair portrayal of how hard a single woman has to work in order to live in Manhattan. If Carrie was working a double shift every other night at a Starbucks during the week and finding time to write on the weekends, then it’d be a little more believable.
Even when Carrie admitted to having money troubles, they were almost immediately solved. Charlotte learned of Carrie’s problem and handed over her old engagement ring and suddenly, Carrie could go back to her expensive shopping habits. I remember she even calculated that she’d spent over $40,000 on shoes alone, but that didn’t even stop her from buying more! She simply took her clean slate and bought her next outfit.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love this show and I love Carrie. But it glossed over a lot of the hardships of living in a very expensive city. I only wish I could afford to live like she did, but it’s just not reality unless you have quite a few zeros on the end of your paycheck. If her name was Carrie Rockefeller or Carrie Trump, then that’d be a whole different story.
Let’s move on to her rom-com collection of scenarios. In Failure to Launch, her character’s job was to help men move out of their parent’s house and become independent. First of all, I wish there were jobs like that because I definitely would have majored in it in college. But this was another example of a serious problem that was looked at in a not-so-serious way. Parents are simply not going to pay someone to date their child in the mere hope it will get them to move out…that’s just even more money out of their pocket. Plus, many parents secretly don’t want their kid to move out of the house because then they’d be forced to acknowledge that they’re getting old.
It should also be mentioned that Matthew McConaughey’s character is grieving the death of a loved one and that’s why he hadn’t moved out. While I know SJP’s character didn’t know this for most of the movie, I find it odd that it never occurred to her to ask what his deal was. She just assumed that all these men were just lazy and didn’t have any psychological issues that led them to bunking with their parental units. And so she continued on with her fake dog death and paint ball lessons in an attempt to sever those guys’ umbilical cords. Sure, she fell in love with Matthew (who wouldn’t), but what about the other guys? She got them out of their houses and then just dumped them? And yet we’re supposed to see this as a helpful and healthy service to provide? She never appeared hurt or felt guilty about leading all these guys on and crushing their hearts, and that’s just wrong.
If you’re about to meet your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents then I definitely recommend avoiding this movie in preparation for the big day because this is not how you want your experience to go. Here you’ve got a lovely family getting together for the holidays, but then Parker’s character slept with her boyfriend’s brother on Christmas Eve. So crazy, right? And after an initial discovery of what went down between Parker’s character and the brother, the boyfriend confessed to loving Parker’s sister (keep up with me now), whom he just met that day.
What’s interesting was that Parker’s character cheated on a man she supposedly loved, but she didn’t really seem that upset it happened. Even when confessing everything to her sister, she smiled. This is not a proper representation of the aftermath of cheating…there’s confusion, guilt, anger, panic attacks – not smiling. And then when her boyfriend revealed that he wanted to be with her sister instead, she was hurt (because, duh, everyone should want to be with her). And the rest of the family stood idly by, watching it all unfold and accepted the switcheroo outcome. This is not how things work in reality. Your exes would be devastated, your family would be disheveled, and there would be a lot screaming. This just isn’t how it goes down.
Every movie becomes a little bit better with Hugh Grant in it, but even so, this movie reeked of disbelief and idealized a rather serious situation. The story centered around an estranged couple from New York City who witnessed a murder and were relocated to a small town in Wyoming as part of a witness protection program. While this seemed plausible enough, it turned away from an action-based plot and morphed into your basic rom-com as the couple fell in love again. It was sweet, sentimental, utterly adorable… but it would NEVER happen. We’re to believe this couple handled all their problems of learning to live in the country and worrying they were going to be killed, and even found time to reconcile? Please.
Also, let’s not forget that they WITNESSED A MURDER. That’ll do some serious psychological damage to a person. If I saw someone killed right in front of me, I know I’d definitely be having some scary nightmares. But not SJP. She was more upset about losing all of her possessions and leaving the city. (Cows don’t come with 3G internet service!) Not exactly one of the five stages of grieving to say the least. A human life is more valuable than having to readjust your lifestyle, but Parker once again chose a character who took a situation and completely distorted it beyond recognition.
And so here we are, back to deciding whether or not Sarah Jessica Parker can be trusted to represent the struggle of the average working girl. “When you’re at work, you’re thinking you should be home and when you’re home, you’re thinking you should be at work” was her motto here. Many women in today’s society face this stressful dilemma so based on the assessment above, do you think Parker will give you a fair, accurate representation? Or will she once again romanticize and gloss over the everyday hassles in order to convey something more important, like love or a great shoe collection?
I have to admit though it is nice to see Ms. Parker actually playing a role that not only fits her age bracket, but also portraying a character she can so easily relate to. She, herself, is a working mom and the main breadwinner of her household (hey I love Matthew Broderick, but the guy only appears on Broadway once every few years). So she deserves major props for being able to juggle everything that comes her way. But she is still a celebrity and let’s be honest – a celebrity working mom is a little bit different than your average working mom — so even in real life she can only give us a skewed comparison.
I really want SJP to be able to tell us how she does it. I’m just not sure if she even knows herself.