Cosmopolitans, Manolo Blahniks, tutu skirts, and Brazilian waxes – there are very few references in Darren Star’s hit comedy-drama Sex and the City that didn’t shape the cultural zeitgeist. Following two films, a spin-off series, and now the reboot, And Just Like That… (airing on Sky Comedy and NOW on December 9th), I couldn’t help but wonder… has there ever been a show as embedded into pop culture as Sex and the City?
For millions of people, Sex and the City wasn’t just another show, it was the show – a true cultural phenomenon. Late Gen X and early Millennials turned to Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha to solve all their life problems: heartbreak, sex, friendships – you name it, there was an episode for it. When the show first aired in 1998, it featured career-driven female characters in their 30s who were single, childless (at least in the first few seasons) and openly discussed sex and sexuality – at the time it was truly groundbreaking.
But fans didn’t just watch the show for the characters, they also watched it for the amazing fashion, thanks to costume designer Patricia Field. She was even credited by The New York Times for starting fashion trends such as nameplate necklaces and having visible bra straps. More recently, whilst the cast were filming And Just Like That… this summer, Lyst reported a 45% increase in consumers searching for Fendi’s Baguette bags (one of Carrie’s wardrobe staples) after Sarah Jessica Parker was seen carrying one on set. According to The Guardian, other fashion accessories such as designer Terry de Havilland’s Lena Non-Stop Disco platform shoe also sold out after being worn by Sarah. What other show could do that?
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Arguably, lockdown helped keep Sex and the City relevant. Thanks to rewatch culture and TikTok, the fierce foursome remain as popular as ever. In February 2021, Sex and the City fans flocked to journalists Dolly Alderton and Caroline O’Donoghue’s podcast miniseries Sentimental in the City, which was one of Apple podcasts’ top 30 shows. With each episode spanning about two hours, the journalists ruminated over every season and film, from Carrie’s best outfits to confusing plot points and spectacular guest stars. Then on TikTok, people like Alexandra Kyle went viral by recreating scenes from the show and lip-syncing to the audio with her cat playing Samantha, whilst singer and actor Jayke Workman shot videos imagining what would happen if the girls were quarantined at Miranda’s apartment. On the video app, #SATC has over 344 million views and features everything from contemplating what brands Carrie would like in 2021 to sharing outfits inspired by the show and rating Carrie’s boyfriends.
Sex and the City is a comfort show for plenty of people (what Millennial didn’t have the DVD boxset?), but now in 2021, people are also analysing the more problematic aspects of the series from a modern lens, which is helping fuel discourse around the show. Since 2019, Juno Dawson and Dylan B Jones have offered an episode-by-episode analysis of the series with their podcast So I Got to Thinking, in which they ask “are Carrie’s musing still relevant for today?” They look at how few people of colour are featured in the show, in addition to the overall lack of diversity. They also discuss #WokeCharlotte, a character invented by the Instagram account Every Outfit on Sex & the City, who is the “fictitious voice of reason that Sex and the City desperately needed but never actually had.” These criticisms come up again and again, and it seems And Just Like That… is tackling this head-on by introducing new characters – including the show’s first non-binary character – and addressing race in its storylines. Not to mention, there are also theories that Miranda will be gay in the reboot.
There’s no doubt Sex and the City is problematic, but fans love the show despite its flaws because it was undeniably progressive for its time. Even today, there are few shows that so accurately portray female friendships and relationships, and which are also filled with famous fashion moments and witty quotes. With the show’s power and influence still evident online today, there’s every reason to believe And Just Like That… will see SATC’s popularity skyrocket to new heights – if that’s even possible.
By Caroline Edwards, staff writer at CORQ. Picture credit: Sarah Jessica Parker via Instagram.