Now THIS is newsworthy. It was freshly announced that one of the greatest shows of all time, “Sex and the City” starts production this spring for an inevitable return to the screen. Anyone who knows me is aware, as a running joke, that I’ve watched this series, in its entirety, too many times to count. Like a constant comforting companion, in times of sadness, times of grief, times of loneliness, Sex and the City becomes the go-to salve.
We have an understanding. At tender times when I truly need an escape, reconnecting with my favorite foursome (and Stanford, too!) doesn’t ask me to emotionally give something I don’t have. During periods of darkness — including divorce, death of loved ones, and job losses — this show’s familiar banter and warm storytelling provides light. It lifts me. Not to mention John Corbett, as Aidan, is hot as fu*k!
If you’ve not watched this series, it’s convenient to dismiss Sex and the City as a chic series, or as fluff. It may be both, but in reality, it’s neither. It’s one of the most well-written shows in terms of thoughtful dialog, intentional character development, and narrative storytelling. Every time I watch, as a writer, I learn or pick up on something new, or fascinatingly craft-related. Being true to a character — how they would behave, what they would say, how they might react — especially over time, is no easy feat. I can’t imagine piling on the insurmountable unforgiving expectations of millions of loyal fans…
Disclaimer: I wasn’t a fan of the movies; they felt like fluff, and so what? Aren’t 95% of movies out there some form of entertainment fluff? In the film realm, Sex and the City (1 and 2) got passes.
However, seeing that Sex and the City is being brought back to series life, I’m mixed. Generally, hit shows are better left alone. Reboots are never never never as crisp or as sharp as the original time they ran. In fact, many reboots just feel sad; as if they’re tying too hard. Perhaps a correlation may be David Lee Roth. Series reboots, decades later, are like today’s David Lee Roth — (do I need to explain what this metaphor means, or is the stark then vs. now juxtaposition clear?)
There have been rumors over years if and when Sex and the City would resurface. The famous real-life feud between two of the main characters, Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones (Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall) kept that from materializing. Gossip columns stated there was a desire from all main players, except Cattrall. I’m sure writers and stars considered if and how a reunion could happen, and lord knows there were probably miles of financial and legal red tape that we the public will never know. Yet, here we are, the time’s arrived: a reboot is happening, without Cattrall.
I’m not sure how I feel; I want memories of this show’s greatness to remain untarnished. I don’t want as if something I revere as iconic, untouchable, or unmatched, has fallen from grace, or has been cheapened for the sake of profit. Sure, the stars and writers, including Michael Patrick King, may believe there’s more story to tell; or they want to explore how 30-something women have fared throughout life nearly 20 years later; or want to reveal what life aged into the 50’s may’ve brought these characters.
As a writer, I understand a need to revisit unfinished stories. As for them, as writers and actors, they must have had huge investment in and with characters they spent so many years engaged with. There are some potentially important stories and messages nearly 20 years away would unearth. My ambivalence comes in wondering if, and how, they’ll be able to connect with their loyal audience in a way that remains true to the characters, but also true to the world around us, as it sits today.
First and foremost, Sex and the City is ultimately a show about relationships. When it came out in 1998, it was ground-breaking. It beautifully communicated complications related to homosexuality, love, sex, morality, friendship, feminism, and cultural expectations. There were few topics it didn’t address in an honest and considered fashion. The world today is even more politically, socially, culturally, racially, and economically, complicated. We’re fractured, divided, afraid, uncertain, overwhelmed, isolated, and doing our best to survive.
How do four, (now three) financially comfortable, privileged, white women fit into the landscape of an ever-shifting, layered, complex conversation which all we know as a society is being questioned? Should a show like this have to apologize for what it was and is, when so much in entertainment doesn’t? Is this a chance for the show’s writers and actors to bring forward a new conversation, and how will they manage to navigate this delicate balance between being true to who and what they are, and not being tone-deaf to a fucked up world around them? Can Sex and the City maintain the heart of what it is, within the disparity of a world trying to make room for new voices, new forms of expression, new ways of connection, new disappointments, new fears, and desperation for new human understanding? Should it have to?
I’d love to be a fly on the wall for these content and potential storyline discussions between Sarah, Cynthia, Kristin, Michael, and any other writers they bring to the table — to hear how they debate these depressing issues, in honest and healthy ways, and hopefully with others who have felt left out or have been previously omitted.
From appearances, offscreen, each of them individually has done work in social service or political spheres related to justice, equality, and advocacy. Unlike characters they played, they seem to be aware of and engaged with an array of pressing needs of others in their communities. How do they bring forward issues they care about in meaningful ways, or through stories that highlight such darkness or complexity?
Even in the best of times, I imagine there’d be important individual stories and cultural messages that years away would require. Now, here we are, caught up in a surreal Orwellian truth-stranger-than-fiction social experiment doing our best to survive.
In keeping with a theme of offering light, is a Sex and the City reboot perfectly timed?; can the producers successfully navigate complicated content terrain in a way that illuminates or inspires?; or will this comeback be fatally designated into a fiery pit of things to forget because we can never go back to where we once were, no matter how badly we want to, and against all reason, some moments are better left as memories? I’m not sure. When it comes to this news about a Sex and the City reboot, there are more answers than questions. One thing I do know is that I won’t allow David Lee Roth to be my oracle.