The cult series “Sex in the City” is celebrating 25 years this year since the premiere of its first episode, and this summer will see the debut of the second season of “And Just Like That…”, a continuation of the story of the hit New York women. Fashion Courier explains on GentleWoman why this series will always be relevant.
Table of Contents:
- Sex yesterday, today and tomorrow – what has the HBO series seduced viewers around the world with?
- The New York dream – is “Sex in the City” realistic?
- Style bible – why is “Sex in the City” a fashion mine of inspiration?
- Dating, sex, relationships… love? – Why is the cult series a guide to love and sex life?
- Always relevant – how do contemporary viewers perceive the series?
Sex yesterday, today and tomorrow
The original “Sex in the City” was an HBO-produced series that aired from 1998 to 2004 and, over the course of six seasons, depicted one of the best facets of New York City in television history. The series, inspired by Candace Bushnell ‘s best-selling story and adapted by Michael Patrick King, tells the life adventures of four 30-something best friends living in Manhattan (connoisseurs of the series’ universe, however, will point out that in time one of the heroines will move to Brooklyn, which will become a huge controversy for the rest of the group). The main characters are Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker, co-producer show), columnist and narrator of the series, along with three close best friends forever: Miranda Hobbes (played by Cynthia Nixon), an assertive lawyer with a sarcastic sense of humor; Charlotte York (played by Kristin Davis), an eternal romantic who is fascinated by art (and worships every shade of pink); and Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall’s role), a socialite and sexually liberated PR professional whose nocturnal adventures have often aroused the surprise of her colleagues at the weekly brunch.
The series tells the story of experiments (from working in editorial Vogue to invasive aesthetic procedures), sex and love adventures (from an affair with a politician to a one-night-stand with a 20-year-old student) and the struggles (from being robbed in broad daylight of a Fendi handbag-bag to battling breast cancer) of these women as they find themselves on their career paths, in relationships and simply, in life. “Sex in the City” is more than a TV series. She is a life guide who constantly advises generations of women (and men).
New York dream
The original version of “Sex in the City” created a sense of identification with the series alter-ego. One was either the chaotic Carrie, the rational Miranda, or the feisty Samantha. Perhaps less often the pedantic Charlotte, although she too was able to inspire in real life with her attitude. However, the million-dollar production success has somewhat overshadowed relatability of the heroines. The two films based on the series turned out to be rather camppastiches whose scripts were seduced by far too large budgets. “Sex and the City 2” from 2010, set in Abu-Dhabi, is the definition of over-the-top glitz and complete detachment from reality.
A contemporary sequel to the series, “And Just Like That…,” attempts to confront this common criticism. The first season, which debuted in a post-pandemic reality, was an explosive mix of sweet nostalgia, the pursuit of being woke, and the sad events that accompanied the footage – including the death of Willie Garson, who for decades played the role of viewers’ beloved Stanford Blatch, Carrie’s gay friend. And of course, a noticeable problem with the new version of “Sex…” was the painful absence of Samantha. Fortunately, Kim Cattral will return for the second season of “And Just Like That…”, notwithstanding her ongoing conflict with Sarah Jessica Parker in her private life. The bouquet of “And Just Like That…” actresses was also joined by expressive actresses who brought fresh perspectives to the plotline: Sara Ramirez (playing non-binary Che Diaz, the host of the podcast in which Carrie appears), Nicole Ari Parker, Sarita Choudhury and Karen Pittman (all playing new friends of the main – white – heroines). The first season of the new “Sex in the City” introduced political correctness, which has never been a strong point of production, and showed the lives of modern women over 50 in an intelligent, compelling way. Viewers, however, could not understand the puzzling lack of sex. Allegedly, the directors leaned on this topic in the second season. This will be revealed soon, as the first episode will be released on the HBO Max platform on June 22.
It is said that Vogue is the bible of fashion. But the style bible for generations of women is “Sex in the City.” It was this series that promoted the iconic “Hangisi” stilettos from Manolo Blahnik. With scenes of friends shopping together, we are eager to shop at vintage fashion boutiques (but equally eager to go to the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman department store!). The iconic dress-halter in a newspaper print by Dior (from the John Galliano era, by the way) will always remain in our memory as the revenge dress in which Bradshaw faced her greatest enemy – Natasha, wife of (soon to be former) Mr. Biga, or the eternal man of her dreams.
We will be forever grateful to Patricia Field, costume designer of the original series, for bringing color, flair and frivolity to our closets. Thanks to her, Carrie Bradshaw’s tulle skirts are constantly appearing in designer shows high fashion . She showed that businesswoman style can be feminine yet assertive, as in the case of Miranda’s office styling. The now fashionable preppy aesthetic is guided by pastel knits, pearl necklaces and floral-patterned silk blouses, which she wore to her Charlotte art gallery every day. Meanwhile, for ideas on seductive evening creations, we look into Samantha’s closet, where we find lurex mini dresses from Roberto Cavalli or electrifying blazers with accentuated shoulders from Moschino. “Sex in the City” is also a primer on New York fashion and its history. It was here that such niche brands as Michael & Hushi and Pierrot debuted, names that defined the city’s true style in the early 2000s. Field did not treat the series as a banner ad for fashion giants, but as a form of documentation of the street style she observed every day in the city.
The ongoing fashion phenomenon in “Sex in the City” is evidenced by a recent capsule collection by Italian brand Fendi, which featured re-editions of favorite handbags baguette from Carrie’s closet. The collection sold out within hours worldwide. The eclecticism and carefree style taught to us by the series’ heroines still inspires (and has marketing power) today, as we can see.
Dating, sex, relationships… love?
A key element of “Sex in the City” is, of course, sex. And everything it can turn into: relationships, relationships, great loves, great breakups. Among other things, the series became a landmark for its non-prudish approach to capturing sex in the lives of modern women. We watch heroines fulfilling their sexual dreams and fantasies; they educate us about vibrators and sex toys; they show us that sex is pleasure and fun, always on their terms. The men in the series are experiments, material for Carrie’s columns and books, and at the same time adventures of the heroines. For six seasons – as well as two movies – Bradshaw’s main love is Mr. Big, but in between breakups with him, the heroine experiences heart-wrenching adventures with Aidan, Berger and Alexander Petrovsky (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov, an acclaimed ballet dancer). Meanwhile, Carrie’s one-night lovers were even played by actors such as Justin Theroux and Bradley Cooper. Although Bradshaw will eventually become the wife of Mr. Biga, it’s the shocking events in And Just Like That… that will ask us: isn’t it better to be perpetually single after all?
The ever-surprising and never boring plot of the series also touches in an empathetic way on difficult topics like infertility and in vitro . In the original “Sex in the City,” the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community is rather scant, but unlike other TV titles of the period, it is at least present. Standford is fulfilled by the relationship with the model. Carrie has a bisexual boyfriend. Samantha, albeit briefly, indulges in a temperamental lesbian relationship. However, in And Just Like That…, the topics of sexual minorities are addressed more efficiently and authentically. In one of the final episodes of the first season, transgender actress Hari Nef plays the role of a progressive rabbi at the bar mitzvah of Charlotte’s daughter Rose – who herself is questioning her gender identity.
The timeliness of the “Sex in the City” universe is evidenced by the inextinguishable interest on the Internet and on social media. On Instagram, we follow @everyoutfitonsatc, a profile that occasionally reminds us of the lesser-known stylings of New York heroines as well as questions some of Carrie’s questionable actions – always with a twist equal to Miranda’s sense of humor. Meanwhile, @findingcarriescloset is doing vital pop-culture research on all, but really all the costumes shown in the series. The creator of the profile can identify even the least distinctive blouse that Samantha wore in the third season, and will still advise what vintage store you can scrounge up for not much money.
“Sex in the City” and “And Just Like That…” fascinate, entertain, provoke and call for reflection on the subject of women in the 21st century. TikTok users sometimes try to #cancel Carrie for her unfortunate statements, while others consider the series a legitimate definition of feminism. At GentleWoman‘s editorial board, we view the lives of the New York friends as a story about women and womanhood that is inspiring on many levels. We look forward to seeing what new things will happen in the colorful lives of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and of course, Samantha!
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