Issue #12: Still In Love With Sex And The City
plus, Running In Jonah Hill's Manolo Blahniks
The year is 2021, and just like that, twenty-something years have passed since Sex and the City (the series) wrapped, and ten-something years have disappeared since the disastrous film, Sex and the City 2 was in theatres. Just when I was getting really good at convincing myself that I am gen z, Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte started strutting the NYC streets again, reminding me that I am a big, old capitalized Gen X. With the leadup to today’s release of And Just Like That, I have been whisked back to an era when I learned what Manolo Blahniks were, when friends rooted for either Aidan or Mr. Big, and when I dreamt of being a writer just like Carrie Bradshaw.
I am one of those who would be okay to leave all of that behind. I liked the show, but I was never obsessed with it. Like many viewers and critics, I sometimes think SATC should be archived as a relic that misrepresented gay men, Black trans women, Black men, bisexual people, and completely disregarded race and class altogether. However, And Just Like That promises to show a more expansive panorama of New York City life by intentionally adding people of color with more diverse gender and sexual identities to the cast and the writing team. I am personally excited about the addition of Che Diaz, a non-binary, queer podcast host played by Sara Ramirez. I also have faith that if anyone can bring the new scripts to life, it will be the hilarious and insightful author/blogger/tv writer Samantha Irby.
The promising arrival of the newly packaged television phenomenon has been very tempting for a pop culture enthusiast like me. However, I have been questioning if I really want to get back into bed with the show. Will re-engaging with the story and the characters be like getting back together with an ex — kinda fun at first, leading to a quick fizzle or disastrous regret? I know that people continue to watch reruns and that there is a colossal fandom waiting for this next chapter, but should I join them?
And just like that, inspiration struck! This was my chance to live my Carrie Bradshaw dream by doing some research for my weekly newsletter! Ah, that’s the spirit! So I reached out to the SATC Reddit community and asked the Big question: Why are people still in love with Sex and the City?
I asked respondents to share their demographic info, and I was surprised to find that SATC has diverse fandom. Heterosexual women, gay men, straight men, Black men, white women, South Asian women, and people ages 16 to mid-50s responded to my question. Fascinating! Older fans watched the show in its early days and continue to watch SATC reruns. Younger fans learned about the show from mothers and aunts or started watching the show on streaming services during the pandemic. The responses were similar across all demographic markers.
With visions of my entertainment journalism future dancing in my head (including my name and face on the sides of buses everywhere), I gathered up the answers and curated a list that will surely have “The New York Star” calling to hire me as a featured columnist!
WHY PEOPLE ARE STILL IN LOVE WITH SEX AND THE CITY
SEX. Yes, let’s start things off with a bang!
One woman wrote that she used to go with her mother to the video store (remember those?) where her mother rented individual seasons of SATC on DVD. This woman said that she felt like there was something taboo about the show having the word “sex” in the title. Taboo means very watchable!
Watching female characters talk about orgasms, blow jobs, anal sex, masturbation, and vibrators was completely revolutionary. Viewers of all ages said it was, and continues to be, refreshing to see women sexually liberated and free. One respondent in her young twenties told me that she started watching the show when she was 14. She was raised in a conservative family, and she said, “[the show] played an important role in my healthy attitude towards sex as an adult.”
Viva la revolution! Let’s raise a glass to sex education via television!
THE CITY Viewers who grew up in or currently live in smaller cities, towns, or rural areas are still enchanted with the lively character of New York City. Everyone loves seeing the vast city skyline, the bars, the restaurants, the big fashion houses, and the boutiques. One woman told me that she has a severe degenerative disease that keeps her homebound. She lives vicariously through the exciting social lives of the SATC characters in the Big Apple. Another viewer pointed out that some of the seasons were filmed and set in pre-9/11 New York, and she enjoys the age of innocence captured in those earlier episodes. Across many lands, viewers are still in love with NYC.
FASHION Father, Son, and House of Dolce and Gabbana, the fans of SATC still love the fashion and the glam! Viewers said that they realize that the majority of the characters would not be able to afford the designer shoes and clothing featured on the show but everyone forgives the lack of realism for the love of fashion escapism!
One viewer wrote that she is an aspiring fashion and lifestyle journalist who has quickly learned that she will not be able to afford a Carrie Bradshaw wardrobe. But, she still loves the fantasy and the “frivolity” (word appreciation from this writer!) of the show.
I am also quickly learning that I won’t be able to afford a luxurious lifestyle while writing about entertainment and fashion, but, wait, that doesn’t fit with the vision dancing in my head! Mantra: I will acquire wealth doing what I am doing, and one day I will have the Manolo Blahnik loafers of my dreams.
RELATABILITY Respondents across all age brackets wrote that they find the characters and the situations in SATC to be very relatable. Certain people relate to individual characters and some even label themselves “the Samantha” or the “Charlotte” of their own friend group.
Several people provided grim updates on the nature of heterosexual dating by reporting that a lot of the dating and relationship issues portrayed on SATC are still completely relatable today. One person wrote, “It goes to show that dating in the 90s was no different than dating in 2021. Men are the same. Women are the same. We are making the same mistakes, repeating everything, and that is why I love the show.” Oh, honey, that is sad. Is it just heterosexuality, or are all forms of dating that depressing? I wouldn’t know; my dating life has dismissed itself, much like Kim Cattrall has dismissed herself from all things SATC.
Many viewers told me that they return to specific episodes when they need reassurance that being single is okay, when looking for relationship advice, and when they long to connect with the characters who have relationship ups and downs.
In the spirit of research, I just rewatched Bay Of Married Pigs (Season 1, Ep 3) and as one of the only single-people-by-choice left on the planet, I found this episode to be highly relatable!
FRIENDSHIP The friendship between Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha ultimately keeps viewers connected to SATC. They appreciate that the women are different from each other, that they have differing opinions and some arguments, but love holds them together through thick and thin.
Respondents told me that they had friend groups that gathered together back in the day to watch SATC. Some of these friend groups still exist. One group of 3 heterosexual women and two gay men dubbed themselves the 5 Flavas, and they remain close to this day. These real-life friends have gone through marriages, children, divorces, and deaths, and they hope that the new chapter, And Just Like That will showcase the joys and pains of similar life milestones.
One younger viewer wrote that watching the show with her mother inspired her to establish a close group of girlfriends. She did just that and she and her newfound friends continue to bond by watching SATC together over and over again.
Not everyone is so fortunate; many viewers long for a friend group like the one portrayed in SATC. One person described the fictional group friendship as “enviable” and lamented that “the dynamic is hard to come by in real life.” [No, it wasn’t me].
Some viewers even see the SATC characters as their real friends. [Also, not me].
“These women are my friends and always make my life feel so much lighter when it gets dark.”
“I just feel like they’re my friends and they would never judge me.”
“I remember I cried during the season finale because I felt like I lost my friends.”
My favorite response to the appeal of the friendships in SATC came from a 16-year-old girl. She told me that she loves the characters and their connections with each other. She has come to believe in Charlotte’s now infamous quote about finding soulmates:
"Maybe we could be each other's soulmates. And then we could let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with." – Charlotte York
And what better reason for people’s enduring love for Sex and the City?
Okay, hold up. What? A 16-year-old female can see the possibility of finding soulmates (plural) outside of heterosexual romantic/sexual relationships? Her philosophy was shaped by the words of a fictional television character from 2001?
That realization is a goddamn miracle - one that has inspired me to jump back into bed with the show. Will it be a one-episode stand, will I be cuffing for the 10 episode season of And Just Like That, or will I finally find my soulmates in the old and the new SATC crew?
“The New York Star” just called! They would like a follow-up piece! So get ready to see my face on buses (hopefully without a cartoon penis drawn next to it).
Why Fans Love Sarah Jessica Parker
SJP has always been running parallel to my obsessions - Broadway, NYC, Andy Cohen, and high-end fashion, but she has never been my obsession until I read the feature article in Vogue’s December Issue. In the article, she defiantly responds to criticism around her natural approach to aging.
“It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are, as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better. I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?” - Sarah Jessica Parker for Vogue
As someone who is prematurely silver-of-head but still very much alive, curious and creative, I suddenly understood what SJP is all about and I became officially obsessed.
Many of you have always been obsessed. I posted the Vogue cover pic of SJP on Instagram and was flooded with likes and comments. So once again, I reached out to my readers, my followers, and the SATC Reddit community for a deeper understanding of SJP fandom. People of all ages, diverse racial backgrounds, gender and sexual identities responded with praise for SJP.
Top 5 Reasons Why You Love SJP
“Mostly, it’s the hair.” Many of you are obsessed with SJP’s curls and waves and straights.
She is an Actress with an A! From Broadway to television and to movies, a whole lot of you love SJP’s acting style. You point out her ability to play comedic roles using physical comedy and her capacity for showing onscreen vulnerability.
She’s an Icon. Icon, icon, icon! An icon associated with all things NYC.
She’s a good person. So many of you commented on how humble and gracious you sense her to be. One person wrote, “She doesn’t punch down…she is a good person in Hollywood and has never changed who she was.” Some of you noted Sarah Jessica Parker’s influence in diversifying the cast and writers of Just Like That and ensuring that the new characters are not just add-ons but have integral, strong storylines of their own.
Her fashion, baby! No surprise here! You love SJP’s overall fashion sense and her shoes! Several of you admire the passion she puts into her shoe line, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker. One person wrote that some of the details on SJP’s shoes are a tribute to the actress’s mother, inspiring her to buy a pair to wear at her wedding.
A longtime fan summed up everyone’s love for SJP, “She is the girl I always wanted to be. The style, the looks, and the attitude.”
But What About Samantha?
Samantha Jones will not be seen in Just Like That. Most of you already know that Kim Cattrall has removed herself from any further association with the SATC story, so I won’t get into the prolonged disruption in the professional and private relationship between Cattrall and Parker. I will tell you that Samantha’s character remains alive and well in London, England. Her absence in the lives of Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte is written into the new series as a business rift between Samantha and Carrie that has not been resolved, despite Carrie’s efforts to reach out to repair the relationship.
In tribute to Ms. Samantha Jones, here are some things fans had to say about her.
“I think that Samatha is just straight up one of the most well written, well acted, interesting and hilarious characters to ever be in a TV show.”
“I freaking love Samatha’s character. I find her revolutionary.”
“At times when I’ve been made to feel pathetic and miserable over a man, I’ve channeled my inner Samantha Jones. It helps!”
“Samantha is a fucking LEGEND!”
Running In Jonah Hill’s Manolo Blahniks
Last night, I dreamt I was Jonah Hill — December 2021 Jonah Hill who wears pale blue chest-bearing Gucci suits with brooches, Manolo Blahnik loafers, and twins with his girlfriend. In my dream, a nondescript man was chasing me. He seemed to want to catch me and warn me that it wasn’t okay to be that happy and free. I was laughing and running, looking back at him and smiling. I knew that I didn’t have anything to worry about. I was me, I was happy, I was free. And goddamn it, I finally had my Manolo Blahniks.
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What is Obsessed! ?
Obsessed! is a weekly Substack newsletter highlighting the latest celeb, entertainment, and pop culture obsessions from a queer POV. Expect my takes on celeb gossip, viewing and listening recommendations, and excessive red carpet reporting (sometimes I cannot stop).