By Ash Cottrell And just like that, HBO has fucking done it again.  As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough. The onset of the new year has delivered a mighty blow with the news that Sex and City is having yet another reboot. Here’s a question – did the films not desecrate the beloved television series enough? Evidently not. All of the cast members, with the exception of Kim Cattrall, are back in 2021 to continue flogging this dead horse. You always remember where you are when something like this happens. I was safely wrapped up in the comfort of my bed sheets. Peaceful, unsuspecting. It was the wee hours of the morning and as I scrolled bleary-eyed through the vapidity that is Instagram, I saw it. A play button begging me to watch the ‘teaser’ for the new instalment, although I loathe to call it that as it looked as if it were shot on an iPhone by an intern told to go and ‘capture the essence of Manhattan’. I pondered for a moment how the advertisement even came to me. Perhaps some algorithm has targeted me as a single-thirty-something-living-in-the-city, making the gross assumption that I’d be a fan of this mutation. I’ve got murder podcasts, case files and other dark shit to listen to thanks. Suffice to say, I haven’t felt this culturally deflated since Home Alone 3 threatened the legacy of my favourite childhood film. Let it be said that I was a bonafide fan of the show, particularly the early seasons. It’s difficult to pinpoint moments in time where things take a left turn, but Sex and The City was undoubtedly a cultural pioneer. Finally, audiences were seeing the leery male gaze subverted. Through Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and even Charlotte, women were depicted as having their own desire and deriving pleasure from sex. Admittedly, it was written primarily by men but hey, baby steps. More broadly speaking, the series sits in the space of a truly exciting time for television – the late nineties. HBO was at the forefront of high-concept content that kicked off a phenomenon of subscriber serial television being synonymous with quality. Contextually, the show was also a significant part of a trend in post-feminism that undoubtedly paved the way for the next crop of important content notably, Girls, Broad City and Fleabag, to name just a few. I can appreciate, in retrospect the problematic nature of associating a show like Sex and the City with feminism, considering the vast majority of screen-time was given to women pining after sub-par men, desperate for their love and validation to ‘complete them’. As an audience, we wanted them to find love too. We bought that Cinderella narrative hook line and sinker, as Carrie ran into the arms of Mr Big in Paris – a man who managed to undermine her love for a decade or so before declaring that she was ‘the one’. Bit slow on the uptake ol’ Big. In saying this, I tend to stay away from that line of criticism. It’s a slippery slope and only succeeds in undermining the contribution that the show undoubtedly did make to the representation of unbreakable female friendships and the conversation about sex from a female perspective. In my opinion, the demise of Sex and the City was money and lots of it. The show was at its best when the protagonist fumbled, like we all do, with her finances. When Carrie was lamenting about the absurdity of spending forty thousand dollars on shoes and having no place to live. Or when she had to walk home in Season 1 because she left her cab fare on Mr Big’s table, just to make a point. The storylines and character arcs evident in the hideous films to follow the series, however, were increasingly characterised by obscene wealth and relentless consumerism. Let’s not forget the downright racist second film, set primarily in Abu Dhabi. Similarly, I can only surmise that the reason behind this rehash, is millions and millions of dollars. Gross. Someone please set up a meeting with Jerry Seinfeld and the SATC team with one item on the agenda – knowing when to stop. Let it be said that when Sex and the City was good, it was great. The writing was irreverent, honest, the fashion was hot as hell and the dialogue was witty, relatable and endlessly quotable. Very sadly for the loyal audience from its heyday – when it was bad, it was unwatchable. With the series tarnished by the absurdity of the two films that followed its series finale, I have a newfound respect for Kim Cattrall in her decision not to reprise the role of Samantha. At least one of the key players has some respect for the spirit of the original content. The decision to produce another chapter in this story begs a question that I often ask myself- why, when there are so many new stories and characters to explore, do we have to desperately cling on to those that have already been told? And yes, while we’re on it, I do feel the same way about the Hey Hey it’s Saturday reboot. All great art has a zeitgeist quality to it and what transcends that, is that it lives on in the hearts and minds of its audience forever. How is that not enough? Sex and the City was a show that held esteemed company with other serialised drama of the time, such as Six Feet Under and The Sopranos. The difference with the former is, the creators of Sex and the City seemingly don’t have the same respect for their audience. Instead, they decided to engage an endlessly larger audience with the films and this new chapter. The cost? They sold out. The writing exchanged its New York brand of cynicism for cringe worthiness, and its fully developed characters for caricatures. The protagonist exchanged her maxed out Amex for Mr Big’s limitless, penthouse-buying pockets and just like that, the creative team lost its grip on reality. Imagine a world where David Chase agreed to producing two films and another chapter to follow The Sopranos’ brilliant series finale? Nuance and moral ambiguity would be relinquished as quickly as it would take to sign the contract. Call me a purist, but I am exhausted by cultural treasures being bastardised by remake after remake. I’m tired of the memory of great television and films being rehashed because the creative team has lost touch with their audience. There’s an air of desperation and greed to it. Particularly when the possibilities for storytelling are endless. Sex and the City stepped up to the plate in 2008 to make the film version of the beloved series. They took a big swing in 2010 to make the second instalment. Two swings and two monumental misses. Two strikes and you’re out.    

Comments

comments