As promised, part two of my New York blog is here!
This time, it’s all about my new TV favourite, Sex and the City.
The series follows four smart and successful single women as they navigate their way through life. The iconic New York City backdrop is ever-present, playing as important a role as the characters themselves.
I am incredibly late to the party but I’ve certainly made up for it now, binge-watching episodes of the hit show more times than I care to admit over the past year!
In early January, it was confirmed that three of the four main ladies will return for 10 new episodes, a new chapter entitled “And just like that”.
But, with a cast member missing, I couldn’t help but wonder…will the reboot work?
The idea to bring Sex and the City to the small screen originally came from Darren Star. He was an avid fan of Candace Bushnell’s book and column for the New York Observer, which detailed the dating habits of various types of Manhattan singletons – from “modelizers” to “toxic bachelors”.
Star was inspired to bring the concept to our television screens in the mid-90s. HBO gave the go-ahead to shoot a pilot episode and he set about casting Bushnall’s alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw and her three 30-something girlfriends.
Fans followed the ladies for six successful seasons between 1998 and 2004, returning for a highly-anticipated movie in 2008 and its 2010 sequel. With its fashion, friendship and lighthearted comedy, the show is rooted in history as a pop culture phenomenon.
The fab four
Sarah Jessica Parker, who had already been in films such as Footloose and Hocus Pocus, was cast as the show’s central character and narrator, columnist Carrie Bradshaw. We see New York through Carrie’s eyes. Witnessing her story unfold is perfect escapism, which wouldn’t be complete without her enviable designer wardrobe and shoe obsession.
Over the course of the show’s six seasons, Parker eventually became an executive producer, winning four Golden Globes and two Emmy awards for her portrayal of the iconic character.
Integral to the plot are Bradshaw’s three best friends, whose stories and lives she uses as inspiration for her weekly column.
Kristin Davis (pictured below) plays Charlotte York, an art dealer whose views on men, marriage and womanhood are the epitomy of tradition.
What underpins Charlotte however, is what Carrie describes in one episode as her ‘eternal optimism’, her strong belief in love and her fervent refusal to settle for less than she deserves.
Miranda Hobbes is an intelligent and feisty lawyer who has sarcasm and cynicism in abundance. Incredibly successful and independent, Miranda is the first of the women to buy her own New York City apartment. She is unafraid to air her opinions and is often the first to point out double standards and hypocrisy.
Cynthia Nixon’s portrayal of Miranda earned her an Emmy Award in 2004 (pictured below). This, alongside her subsequent Grammy and Tony award wins for other projects, makes Nixon just an Oscar away from completing the “EGOT” collection of awards – one of the highest honours in Hollywood which has only been afforded to 21 individuals thus far.
Finally, Kim Cattrall completes the group as Samantha Jones.
The Liverpool-born actress had previously starred in the likes of Mannequin and Police Academy, as well as episodes of Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels. She reportedly turned down the role three times before being cast, apparently due to being reluctant to take on such a project in her forties.
Fortunately, she eventually agreed and it is now very hard to imagine anybody else as the iconic character. Cattrall’s portrayal of the adventurous and straight-talking publicist quickly made her a fan-favourite.
Samantha is open-minded and outrageous. She loves herself unapologetically, and is incredibly non-judgemental when it comes to her friends.
Each of the characters are shown to have enviable qualities, at least for me. I’d love to have Carrie’s career, Charlotte’s optimism, Miranda’s wit and Samantha’s confidence.
However, what I also love is that these women are by no-means role models. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, things go wrong and they have their fair share of cringeworthy moments. That is what makes them appear human – and gives the show a lot of its appeal in my opinion.
Early in the series, the women agree to be “each other’s soulmates”, with the writers deliberately not introducing or shedding too much light on the character’s family members, to further entrench that sense of closeness and reliance.
The main characters are incredibly different and often bicker and fight about how each of them sees the world. By doing this, the writers are able to demonstrate a whole range of opinion and outlooks. They show four different approaches to life and topical issues, all the while, refraining from telling viewers which to follow or believe.
“I think our show is about choices and about being able to create your life in the way that you want to create it,” says Kristin Davis in the companion book, Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell by Amy Sohn.
On the one hand, you have Charlotte – whose goals in life are to get married and to have a baby. Samantha on the other hand, is repulsed at the notion of marriage, and refuses to be shamed for her choice not to have children.
The two extremes often argue and disagree, and both are shown to experience confrontation as a result of their choices. However, neither are presented or seen as less of a woman as a result.
In this respect, the programme sends a very important message of empowerment, and demonstrates the pressures experienced by women – vital even nowadays.
With its sex, cocktails and designer handbags, it could be easy for the show to be perceived as incredibly shallow. However, it is its ability to perfectly balance those aspects with poignant, heartfelt moments which gives Sex and the City its class, especially in the later seasons.
By the time it reached its conclusion, the show had tackled many important issues as the women stuck by each other through marriage, pregnancy, divorce and cancer.
Sarah Jessica Parker addressed this in her interview for the companion book, saying that if it was simply about four women using bad language and having sex, “the novelty of that would last about 20 minutes.”
The show is about more than that. It combines comedy with heartbreak in a very real way. It features celebrity cameos, beautiful music and good writing which is brilliantly acted – which perhaps helps to explain its enduring legacy, as well as its many awards and nominations.
All these years later, Sex and the City still has millions of loyal fans around the world and remains incredibly relevant. There are many accounts across social media to celebrate the show, with some even grabbing the attention of the original cast and crew.
The Bradshaw Boys is a fabulous podcast where three men watch each episode of the show for the very first time, discussing and debating the many talking points that they bring to the fore.
Another Woman’s Sushi is another, a fun Instagram account dedicated to perfectly replicating all of the fabulous food and drink featured in the show! So, if you would like to make “the best brownie in New York” or the “Flirtini” cocktail – then look no further…
Despite the chemistry between the cast members on the show and in the movies, rumours of wage disparity, ‘diva’ and ‘mean girl’ behaviour leading to the cast not getting along in real life has somewhat marred its legacy.
You can see a timeline of the high-profile ‘feud’ here.
In 2017, amongst the ‘drama’, Kim Cattrall moved on from Sex and the City and decided not to reprise her role as Samantha in any further movies or episodes. She explained her reasoning and explained her side of the story during her appearance on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories:
Although I am dubious as to whether the show would be as successful without her fabulous presence, I admire her ability to step away with class. She has expressed her desire to explore different projects, most recently focusing on theatre work and starring in drama series Filthy Rich.
“I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I’m not enjoying myself,” she told The Guardian in 2018. Who can argue with that? She is doing what is right for her (very Samantha Jones).
Considering that the second movie wasn’t very well received and with the women doing different things – including Cynthia Nixon’s run for governor of New York in 2018, it was thought that Carrie had put her Manolo Blahniks away for good.
However, earlier this month, the remaining cast members took to social media to announce the aforementioned reboot. Not much is known about the plot, but it is thought that the new series will follow the three girls as they navigate life through their fifties.
After the announcement, many fans took to social media to express their disappointment that Kim Cattrall would not be returning, as well as providing ideas and speculating over how her absence will be explained.
Watching the episodes and films for the first time in 2020, I recognised and completely understood the argument that many storylines have aged badly. There are many examples of out-of-date attitudes and behaviours as well as a lack of diversity, which I assume they will be keen to rectify in order for the reboot to work.
At the time however – feud or no feud, relatable or not – the show was considered to be groundbreaking. It highlighted the power of strong female friendship, and the girls’ candid brunch conversations succeeded in normalising open discussions of women’s issues.
Given the power the show had, they will have a perfect platform to do the same thing again, this time with topics and issues relevant to today’s society.
So, like many other avid fans, this reboot news has left me with a lot of questions:
Where are they now? Will they tackle modern issues? Will it be the same without Samantha? And, most importantly, will it be better than that second movie?!
We’ll just have to wait and see…
I already know the answer to one question though.
Am I excited? Yes. Yes I am!