Sex and the City’s legacy as a cultural phenomenon is, while at times problematic, unquestionable.
For fans around the world, the show’s four central characters – Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda – feel like old friends. As familiar and comforting to see on our screens all these years later as it would be to bump into an old school friend in your home town.
We’ve seen them through break-ups, make-ups, marriages, divorce and cancer. We’ve watched them grow from their days as single 30-something socialites into their settled family lives, and seemingly said goodbye to them time and time again. Or so we thought.
First came Sex and the City: The Movie, welcomed by many fans, who wanted to see how Carrie and Big’s “happy ever after” turned out after six seasons of will-they won’t-they back and forth. While it was never going to be the same as the series, it was enjoyable, helped along by a healthy dose of nostalgia, and answered the questions that needed to be answered about where the characters’ lives went.
But then came the universally-panned Sex and the City 2, the sequel no one needed. Not only was its representation of Abu Dhabi and the Middle East downright offensive, its storylines clutched at some serious straws. Carrie bumping into Aidan in the middle of a market halfway across the world and cheating on Big, the love of her life, with him ... right. And Stanford and Anthony, two characters who up until now couldn’t stand the sight of each other, are suddenly getting married? Sure.
It was a step too far for most SATC fans and universally slated.
In the 12 years since, many questions have been raised over Sex and the City’s lack of diversity and representation, as well as some of its problematic storylines.
It failed to resonate with younger generations watching for the first time, and its creators faced a lot of criticism.
So when it was announced that (almost) all of the gang would be returning for a Samantha-less spin off And Just Like That …, the reaction was mixed.
The promise from creators to address issues of diversity and representation, making a Sex and the City for the modern day, left many intrigued. Would it be enough to capture a new audience, while satisfying the needs of the show’s original, loyal fan base?
After nine episodes, the resounding answer, sadly, is no. While the storylines have undoubtedly been more representative of the society we now live in, I can’t help but feel it has, at times, been tokenistic. An attempt to tick a box to rectify some of its wrongdoings of the past.
New audiences have seen through it, and for the show’s original fans, it has taken the characters they know and love away from the people they once recognised. Of course, people change and evolve – in their 50s, these women will not be the same as they were when they were running around Manhattan in their 30s, but it begs the question, why not just create a whole new show?
Reviews have panned the show as “woke”, “weird” and “awful”. And yet, there is now talk of a second season. According to industry insiders, the chance of And Just Like That … returning is “high”.
“The creative conversations haven’t happened yet, but everyone is feeling good about the show,” a source is reported to have told Page Six.
“They may feel that they want to prove a point that they can make a second season stronger and that it was valid to bring it back for fans.”
If Sex and the City 2 was not lesson enough, then please, let this be it. From the first episode, I cringed more than I smiled, and not even that familiar feeling of nostalgia could save it. I found myself hate-watching, and falling out of love with the characters who had always felt like friends.
It's time to leave Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda behind, just as Samantha did. There really is no point left to prove.