The year was 2018. Word of a potential Sex and the City reunion was spreading and millennial women everywhere were dusting off their Manalo Blancs and mentally prepping their viewing parties. But very quickly our hopes were dashed when Kim Cattrall, who (of course) played Samantha Jones on the show, not only said she wouldn’t be joining a reboot, but accused Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie Bradshaw) of constant bullying during the pair’s decade-long stint as co-stars and on-screen best friends.
Not only did the accusations spur a messy month-long she said, she said, he said (even Jason Lewis, who played Samantha’s younger boyfriend, Smith Jerrod, got involved), which included public call-outs on social media and tell-all interviews, but the revelation that the four women, whose friendship was the driving force behind the show’s success, didn’t get along behind-the-scenes sent shockwaves through its fandom. When SJP released a statement saying that conversations to bring another SATC to the world had been ceased, no one was surprised. What’s Sex and the City without Samantha Jones, anyway?
But almost three years on, surprising everyone, HBO Max announced that not only is a reboot back on the table, but that production is set to start in New York City in just a few month’s time. Titled “And Just Like That…” the revival will star Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. As she stated previously, Kim Cattrall is sadly not returning. Parker, Nixon and Davis will also executive produce the show, along with Michael Patrick King. The series, which will consist of 10 half-hour episodes, will follow Carrie Bradshaw (Parker), Charlotte York (Davis) and Miranda Hobbes (Nixon) as they navigate love and friendship in their 50s – around 20 years on from their ages in the show and subsequent movies.
Though it’s not uncommon for much-beloved shows to return years, even decades on, simultaneously giving audiences the content they want and studios a guaranteed success (even if the revival is bad, it’ll still get watched), the more I think about what a Sex and the City remake could offer in our post-Me Too, post-Black Lives Matter world, the more I’m confused about exactly how they’ll make it work.
The gaping hole left by Cattrall aside, many of the things that fans loved about SATC just wouldn’t fly today. Not only does it make little to no sense that Carrie would be able to afford her own New York City apartment on a freelance writer’s wage, but women today don’t want to watch storylines almost solely centred around dating, men and lack thereof. Throughout its six seasons, with the exception of Samantha (RIP), the show’s white, cis, able-bodied and thin characters obsess over having relationships with the opposite sex, to the point where Carrie compares being single to being the “modern-day equivalent of being a leper.” There’s also the time that Carrie, a woman who makes a living out of writing a sex and dating column, says that bisexuality doesn’t exist and that it’s just a “layover on the way to Gaytown” and the time that Samantha dates a Black man, but “doesn’t see color; only sees conquests.”
Of course, the show’s stars, writers and producers are well aware of the climate we’re currently in, both socially and politically, and you’ll bet they’ll do their darndest to accommodate. There’ll no doubt be a range of diverse characters and woke storylines interwoven throughout the new series, and perhaps even the addition of another leading lady to replace Samantha. But when each of the show’s main characters is white – and married to a white man – how much diversity can there really be, without it looking a bit… tokenistic?
Perhaps Carrie get sick of Mr Big – and the somewhat condescending way he calls her ‘kid’ – and realises that she’d rather be in a polyamorous relationship with her next door neighbours, who can offer her both the stability and excitement she’d always craved, Perhaps Miranda realises that what was missing from her relationship with Steve is that she’d rather be dating a woman. Perhaps Charlotte gets reimagined as ‘Woke Charlotte’ – a character made up by the @EveryOutfitOnSATC Instagram account – and realises that gender pronouns are unnecessary. Perhaps, as British writer Raven Smith joked, Carrie rewears her John Galliano newspaper dress, but this time it’s covered in QAnon conspiracy theories. Perhaps she’s in a Twitter war with Trump.
Perhaps the SATC reboot could work. But after we’ve already dealt with that second movie and 2018’s dose of drama, the show is already walking a fine line. Just please spare us from any mention of a global pandemic. No one needs to see how much Miranda Hobbs hoards.