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« 353 Days Until "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"| Main| Sharp Objects: Episode 5 "Closer"»
Tuesday
Aug 07 2018

Together & Apart: 10 Years with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

By Spencer Coile

Growing up in the early 2000's,it was near impossible to avoid hearing someone talk aboutThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.It followed four best friends who,realizing the difficulty of being apart from each other for the summer,find themselves inexplicably linked by a pair of jeans that magically fit all of them.The first book by Ann Brashares was published in 2001 with four sequels shortly after,so it wasn't long before a film adaptation was in the works.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantswas released in 2005 and its sequel in 2008.With the casting of TV stars Alexis Bledel,America Ferrera,Blake Lively,and Amber Tamblyn,the films brought the same magic that the novels did before them.They were melodramatic and trite,but bursting with themes of loss,love,and friendship.I was swept up in the magic,and with the 10th anniversary ofThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,felt it was imperative to get nostalgic and explore a series that helped define my adolescence...

For Lena (Bledel),Carmen (Ferrera),Bridget (Lively),and Tibby (Tamblyn),being away from each other for the summer is the hardest concept to grasp.In the first film,Lena is visiting family in Greece,Carmen is reconnecting with her dad who she only sees twice a year,Bridget is traveling to soccer camp,and Tibby is staying in their hometown.The disillusionment of their impending separation is alleviated when they discover a pair of pants that,despite their different body types,fits each of them.The book and film series thrive on the friendship between these four women,who will eventually become adults.

The second film takes place years later,each at college,living their lives apart – always linked by the pants.While the first film is a lively,faithful adaptation to the first book,the second film feels jam packed: Lena is caught in a love triangle,Carmen struggles with her self-worth at an acting camp in Vermont,Bridget travels to Turkey on an archaeology scholarship and then to Alabama to visit with her estranged grandmother (Blythe Danner),and Tibby experiences a pregnancy scare.Therein lies the big problem withThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2:it unsuccessfully crams in storylines from books 2-4 into one film.Because Bridget's emotional catharsis takes place at grandma Danner,her expedition to Turkey feels completely unnecessary...although we do get Shohreh Aghdashloo in those scenes.

Then again,those are minor quibbles in a two film series that complement one another effortlessly.This is strengthend by the four central performances.Today,we acknowledge those four actresses as fully capable performers,but it is interesting to trace their careers in tandem with the first film.At the time,Amber Tamblyn and Alexis Bledel were major draws with their acclaimed television work onJoan of ArcadiaandGilmore Girlsrespectively.Compare that to the second film in 2008,when Ferrera and Lively were the notable stars with their success onUgly BettyandGossip Girl(not to mention an Emmy win for Ferrera).

Regardless of their popularity at the time,though,there is no denying that together,these four actresses brought to life a YA series that so many of us devoured.In retrospect,I am sure that the book series is far from perfect as are the films.But that's okay,because it wasn't the proficiency that led so many of us to read the books and see the movies (I still watch them).For those growing up at the time,The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsseries represented our own friendships and relationships.It led many of us to seek out our own "traveling pants"as a way to stay close with our friends when we were away from one another.How many of us passed around an object with our friends when we were apart to somehow keep us closer together?It was an emblem of our friendship and made the separation somehow more bearable.It gave us the chance to reflect,to grow,and to cry… a lot.

No,the stories in the books and films may not have directly related to our lives,but that doesn't mean they can't resonate with us.And although the fourth book and the second movie end with the girls losing the pants,they knew that it was their love and commitment that would keep them together.

I recently caught up withThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2and it felt as familiar as putting on a pair of well-worn jeans.I enjoyed the movie for what it was,but more than anything,it took me back to watching the sequel in theaters with a group of my closest friends.We still remain close to this day;so much,in fact,that I texted them asking who we would be if we had our own sisterhood.It sounds silly,but it speaks to the impact this series had on me growing up and even today.It somehow brought me closer to my friends and keeps me connected with them,even when we are hours away.Call me crazy,but just like the pants that link these women together,The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantssparkles with its own hidden magic.

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Reader Comments (3)

I never bothered with the sequel,but god DAMN did I bawl my eyes out at the first one during Tibby's arc with Bailey.I was in high school working at Walgreens that summer while my well-traveled friends were off having sexy and fabulous summers.I felt so represented.

Carmen's breakdown is so memorable,too."Sorry that he has a daughte who actually has an ass!"

August 7,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

There's no way all four of them could fit in the same pair of (magically elastic?) pants.

Also,that is some vicious photoshopping in the sequel's poster.Yikes.

August 7,2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

You are so right.In hindsight,we can really appreciate the wonderful choices that were made in casting.Love them all,and that's the way it should be.

August 8,2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

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