Sex and the City & When To Call It Quits

Just when you think any continuation of Sex and the City is dead in the water, they prove you wrong.

Sex and the City
Sex and the City

Sex and the City ran on HBO for six seasons, starting in the late 90s, and ending in 2004. All the women were given happy endings: Carrie finally got her Big, Miranda was living the idyllic Brooklyn life with Steve and Brady, Charlotte and Harry were successful in their adoption application, and Samantha was living the fabulous life with Smith. We thought things were done.

In 2008, we got Sex and the City the movie, picking up where things left off in the series. I watched the movie again recently, because I was bored and it was there on Netflix, and realised that all the wit and daring the series had was no longer present in the transition to the big screen. It was a more formulaic chick flick, and all the growth these characters had achieved throughout the series became a moot point.

Charlotte’s main arc in season six was her inability to conceive, which allowed her to push outside her comfort zone and adopt with Harry. That was always a part of Charlotte’s characterisation, since she had rules, boundaries and expectations for everything. The show did her justice by pairing her with Harry, a man who didn’t look and behave according to her internal ideals, but he was a man she fell in love with anyway.

In the movie, we seem to backtrack from this, as we see Charlotte getting pregnant and giving birth to her daughter Rose. As for Samantha, she discovers that being in a monogamous relationship isn’t working for her. She’s not the kind of woman who waits for a man, and she feels boxed in. Samantha enjoys sex, but her issues with commitment were more about her own insecurities rather than a sense of entrapment. The decision she makes, to put herself first, isn’t a bad one or one that’s out of character. But it was an easy way to deal with Samantha’s character, so that she can go back to playing the fun, vivacious character we are used to.

Steve and Miranda went from marital bliss to absolute hell. Steve cheated, Miranda wanted to leave him because of that, but then they go to therapy and decide to make it work. I mean, it’s wasn’t the worse plotline, however, they did take the easy way out by making Steve cheat. The issues in their marriage should have focused more on their contrasting characters or the lull that couples go through in relationships. Then we have Carrie and Big, whose relationship plays out in the usual toxic pattern we are used to. He runs away, she leaves him, and then they reconcile. An edgier choice would be a single Carrie Bradshaw at the end of the movie, instead, she ends the film at exactly the same place.

That was the problem with the film – it didn’t help in character progression, the dialogue was nothing to write home about, and if we didn’t watch the movie, we wouldn’t miss anything, since things are nearly the same as before. Don’t even get me started on the second movie, which was a disaster on so many levels. New York is as much a character in the series as the women are, you can’t take them out of the city and do a whole fish out of water thing, because it just doesn’t work.

Which brings me to recent news, that Sex and the City will be getting a ten episode revival on HBO Max. The teaser that was released, where we are treated to the visuals of New York and Carrie’s iconic line, seems to be a return to the roots of the series, while also exploring contemporary ideas of sexual politics.

It also came with the news that Kim Cattrall’s Samantha will not be returning with the rest of the women. So why on earth are they bringing it back? Sex and the City’s popularity is precisely because of its nostalgia, so modernising it and following the women again when they are no longer single women in New York (and no Samantha) just doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Sarah Jessica Parker mentioned that there are so many new storylines and themes they have yet to explore, such as #metoo and the Time’s Up movement. Isn’t that what Darren Star’s more contemporary TV shows (i.e Younger and Emily in Paris) are meant to do? I can understand the attachment to these characters, but that’s what reruns are for. Why revisit when it can never top what came before? Especially since we have observed the storytelling become more formulaic and outlandish as the years have gone by.

I couldn’t help but wonder: why is there no realisation that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to call it quits?

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