There’s Sex and the City the show, and then there’s Sex and the City the cultural phenomenon — and we must delineate.
The show, which had its premiere in 1998, ran for six seasons and spawned two feature films. You could binge the entire series in less than two days. Original reviews of the series called the pilot’s script “awkward,” “choppy” and “burdened with impossible dialogue.” One early review noted how “episodes play spin the bottle with the issues and land everywhere but the right places.”
The reviews got more favorable over time, as did industry recognition, which included 7 Emmy wins and a ranking as one of the best television series of all time by Time, Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide among others.
The phenomenon has enjoyed a more complex after-life.
Birkins, Cosmos, Krispy Kreme, The Learning Annex, Manolo Blahnik, Nobu, Post It, TiVo. Say any one of those words and all I think of is the Fab Four. And, as Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson aptly pointed out in his 2014 look back on the show: “A decade later, those trends are largely gone, but there’s still the show — this great, thrilling, maddening, occasionally dumb show.”
In the absence of new Sex and the City episodes or films, there’s been a prequel series, museum exhibitions, SATC-themed tours of NYC hotspots, a cottage industry of social media accounts dedicated to loving on and playfully dragging the show, as well as countless post mortems with the cast and creatives. The characters have become their own archetypes (are you a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha or Charlotte?). But up until now, it’s been a decade of nostalgia for some and reckonings for others.
Still, for many of us fans, a Sex and the City revival felt inevitable. After all, we’ve been in a purgatory of peak revival season for the last few years: Will & Grace, Full House, Gilmore Girls, Roseanne, Twin Peaks, Queer Eye, Charmed, Saved By The Bell, Boy Meets World, The X-Files, Gossip Girl and Veronica Mars are just a dozen of the shows that have been given a second life in recent memory. And so, when a coordinated social media roll-out of a teaser trailer materialized on the accounts of series stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis, we were equal parts excited and relieved — excited to have our girls back (well, most of them), and relieved that whatever had caused a decade-long hold out was now a non-factor.
But, it should be noted, this is not a reboot.
“It’s a continuation of the story with the original women (errr…minus one),” notes Lauren Garroni, co-founder of @everyoutfitsatc, a satirical Instagram account that dissects the outrageous fashions of the show.
Still, I couldn’t help but wonder (🥺), who is this new revival for? After posting screenshots of Amalita Amalfi, one of my fav one-off characters who appeared in the show’s first season, GQ’s style writer Rachel Seville Tashjian replied: “I have a strong suspicion this ‘reboot’ is not for those of us who would even understand what this tweet means.”
“Amalita Amalfi is an icon, and true fans live for an obscure SATC reference,” says @everyoutfitsatc co-founder Chelsea Fairless. “But if the films taught us anything, it’s that the franchise is now about appealing to the masses (even though the second film appealed to virtually no one).”
In the cases of shows like Gossip Girl and Saved By The Bell, the reboots were intentionally made for a new generation. They were using the intellectual property as the hook, but with a pointed effort towards making the shows more modern. In both instances, the shows featured more diverse casts — answering criticisms that have long been lobbed at SATC. But with Will & Grace and an upcoming Friends reunion special, the show’s overwhelming whiteness seems to remain unchecked.
There seems to be an obvious division when it comes to the prospects of bringing this show back. On the one hand, we miss the ladies, the sex-ed up exploits, the clothes, Steve Brady’s skid marks. On the other, with pained memories of the second, critically reviled film, and one of the show’s leads opting out of this go-round, some feel we should leave the series be as a cultural artifact best remembered through a rewatch.
“I just don’t want to visit that New York without Sam,” drag queen Detox recently told this author. “But I’ll also cry every episode, probably.”
That pretty much sums up the conflicting feelings so many of us old-school SATC fans are feeling.
The New York of 1998-2004 no longer existed pre-coronavirus, and it’s especially no more now, mid-pandemic. What was once seen as an aspirational lifestyle seems, at best, nonsensical these days.
“I mean, since the show went off air, we’ve been primed as viewers to voraciously consume the sex lives of menopausal women on the Upper East Side through The Real Housewives of New York,” says Garroni. “So I think stans like us will enjoy the new limited series regardless and it will attract a new audience.”
But, she adds a caveat: as long as they are Bravo reality television fans.
If you liked this story, meet the cast of Netflix’s hit show Bridgerton.
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