'Sex and the City 2' Trailer: Aidan and Abu Dhabi

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The Sex and the City 2 trailer is out, and it's full of crowd-pleasing details: Aidan—the sweet, dependable fiance Carrie ditched in favor of the sexy, can't-pin-him-down Mr. Big—returns. Stanford—the gay best friend who doesn't get a steady boyfriend until the show's fifth season—gets married. Samantha—whose sexual appetite had to to be reined in during the first movie because of her relationship with a younger actor—rebounds from her breakup with a vengeance.

But the most remarkable part of the new film is the city where it's set: not the glittering turn-of-the-century Manhattan of the HBO series, not the post-recession New York of the first movie, but...Abu Dhabi.

Why transplant the distinctively New York characters to the capital of the United Arab Emirates? Well, it allows Samantha to make a joke about hot flashes while riding on a camel. But setting the movie in a flashy foreign city also lets the four friends continue their freewheeling lifestyles with less guilt.

One of the most common criticisms of the first Sex and the City film, released just as the housing and stock markets were starting to tumble in 2008, was that it was tone-deaf in the midst of so much financial turmoil. Seeing four woman gallivant around New York in $400 shoes, drinking $20 cocktails offered giddy escapism in the boom '90s, but two wars and two recessions later, the girls' narcissism and materialism felt wrong.

Slate objected to how Carrie reacted to her breakup from Mr. Big: "Carrie, after Big jilts her, says, "I feel like I took a bullet." Um, really? You mean, like a soldier? It totally animated the moralist in me." The New York Times chastised the film for being "depressingly stunted" and not allowing its characters to grow wiser as well as older, saying of Carrie, "this It Girl has become totally Ick."

It looks like the second movie will again resist the call to make the girls grow up and face the recession. Instead of forcing Carrie to shop at Nordstrom Rack or asking Samantha to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of Champagne, the film just sends them off to another, sexier city.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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