I couldn’t help but wonder… is this a revival too far?

Sex and the City was of its time. Leave it be and watch reruns if you need a fix, says Laura Marcus

The revival of Sex and the City will be warmly welcomed by those who want to get another shot of Cosmopolitans, Big and Manolo Blahniks…

Right now we don’t know if Big will be back. Only that Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall, will not be returning. Cattrall WAS the sex in SATC. When four becomes three, like a table or chair that loses a leg, it becomes wobbly. I was a huge fan of the show but it was of its time and its time is long gone.

If the ‘girls’ are doing it for a pay cheque, well, who can blame them? Certainly not me. But it’s a shame that a show which broke new ground is going in for a retread that can’t possibly match the original. It’s often thought SATC was all about the sex. If that’s all it had ever been it wouldn’t have had such a long run and been such a huge success.

No, the reason SATC was so successful was it sold two fantasies. That single women put friendship ahead of finding a man. And that you can spend hours eating with your pals and stay stick thin. As I’ve been coupled up for about a hundred years it was the latter fantasy that really worked for me. Those girls were ALWAYS eating! And the food! Remember Carrie munching into a huge pink-iced cup cake outside a coffee bar in New York? As if! No one stays that thin on cup cakes.

Occasionally they would order a salad but mostly they gorged on high-calorie delights which they ate and they ate and they ate. They never spoke about dieting and they never counted calories. It was magic! SATC sold us a dream of being at an eat-all-you-like buffet of life and never gain an ounce.

The men were decoration. A bit of eye candy but it wasn’t their show. It was the girls’ show. They had careers, fabulous frocks and lived in sumptuous Manhattan apartments they couldn’t possibly have afforded on their salaries but who cares? The show sold a fantasy. And they had great sex whenever they could!

But most of all they had each other. This was a show about female friendship. About women caring for each other more than anything else. Dropping whatever they were doing, whatever work they had or hot date, to rush to a friend’s side if she was in trouble. This is the true fantasy of female friendship. It’s what we all want from our friends and if we’re very lucky we do get this some point in our lives. But that point is our teens, 20s and early to mid 30s. After which time most women are knee deep in nappies, play dates, parents’ evenings and school fund raising. And even if we aren’t, most of our friends are. The one thing that goes in a busy woman’s life is her friends.

So with kids in tow, partners or husbands to cater for, and a career either on hold or more demanding than ever, how could this possibly work? These women in their fifties would be lucky to see their mates once a month, if that. Okay, so the show was always a fantasy and that’s fine. But for a fantasy to work it must have some basis in reality. The Golden Girls worked because those women were in the autumn of their lives with men and children long gone. The SATC girls had their babies late, as became common for career women in the 80s and 90s. So they wouldn’t be free of them in their mid 50s. They’d be worrying about their kids’ SAT scores, college choices, and whether their kids would ever find lasting love.

Trying to bring back SATC isn’t bold or even remotely exciting. The world is a very different place now and trying to recreate that magical time of the late 90s and early 00s before the financial crash of 2008, Trump and Covid just looks sad.

Besides, without Samantha Jones it won’t work. The Spice Girls reunion didn’t work and Take That reduced to three – or is it two now? – is just embarrassing. I heard Steps are getting back together too. Why? Can’t we remember them as the gorgeous young things they were? Steps in their middle ages is a tragedy!

If we want to wallow in nostalgia for those heady times we can watch endless re-runs of Friends, thirtysomething, and The West Wing. For sure that was a very fertile era for great TV.

But what we need for our turbulent times is something new. The Depression of the 1930s gave us such great entertainment that films of the time are still remembered and enjoyed today. Couldn’t creatives at least try to do something different? Something relevant while at the same offering escapism for a mature audience?

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Laura Marcus

Laura Marcus is a freelance journalist and broadcaster.

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