What We’d Like to See in the Sex and the City Spinoff
In January, streaming service HBO Max announced that Sex and the City will be returning to the small screen in the form of a limited series entitled And Just Like That. The 10-episode series will follow Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte as they enter life in their 50s. Finally, we’ll get to see how our favorite besties have evolved in the years since they settled down and started building their own families.
The reactions to the SATC reboot have been mixed. After all, Kim Cattrall will not be reprising her role as Samantha, and what’s a show about sex without its most sexually voracious character?
But that’s not the only thing that gives us pause. It’s more that the show’s whitewashed, heterocentric, capitalist brand of sexuality hasn’t aged very well. Do we really need SATC in 2021?
Not that I won’t be glued to the screen. SATC was a favorite of mine back in the day. Still, I’m curious to see how a show that now seems so wildly out of touch will adapt to reflect a world in which we’re finally having essential conversations about what it truly means to be sex positive.
If it were up to me, here’s what I’d want to see in the SATC reboot.
Diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way. In the original series, our main characters are a group of cisgender white women with an ample budget for high-end shoes. Anyone who falls outside of that mold is treated like a caricature, from gay BFFs Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marantino, to the power lesbians who briefly take Charlotte under their wing, to the woman Samantha dates at one point, a Latina artist named Maria who starts breaking plates to the sound of samba music in the midst of a fight.
The show’s writers even lean hard into Black stereotypes when Samantha dates Chivon, who works in the music industry. They pull the “angry Black woman” card when Chivon’s sister Adeena throws down with Samantha at the club, berating Samantha for dating her brother and pulling Samantha’s hair when Samantha insults her okra. Yikes!
And the stereotypes—and straight-out intolerance—don’t stop there. When Carrie’s boyfriend Sean tells her he’s bisexual, she—the sex columnist, mind you—tells her friends she doesn’t think bisexuality exists admitting, “I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gay Town.”
Samantha is straight-out awful to the Black trans sex workers who live near her screaming, “I am paying a fortune to live in a neighborhood that’s trendy by day and tranny by night!”
For a show that’s supposed to be sex-positive, it showcases a lot of regressive and limiting beliefs about the diverse ways it’s possible to live and love in the world.
In this upcoming reboot, I’d love to see the ladies of SATC expanding their circles, checking their privilege, and opening their minds to the entire spectrum of sexual expression.
Some actual discourse on consent.
In one SATC episode, I literally flinch when Charlotte flippantly says that a sloppy kisser has “raped” her face. In another episode, Carrie learns that her artist friend Barkley secretly videotapes his sexual encounters with models without their permission. Then there’s the time a Vogue editor drops his pants in front of Carrie in an unsolicited moment that leaves her horrified.
Carrie’s horror aside, moments like these are mostly glossed over in the show, without any further discussion of boundaries and consent.
Then there’s every moment in which the leading ladies of SATC cringe their way through sexual activities they don’t enjoy, instead of starting a conversation about how they might make things more mutually pleasurable.
I’d love to see some shame-free sexual negotiation on the new series, plus an interrogation of consent in general.
Sex that does not revolve around PIV or penetrative intercourse.
Remember when Samantha ended a loving relationship with a guy because he had a small penis? She acted like it was the end of the world, when the real tragedy was that she and her friends were so focused on just one tiny (and hetrocentric) aspect of sex. How limiting!
There’s a whole world of sexual activity out there. We can try a whole list of things to bring pleasure, but we have to expand our definition of sex.
It would be nice to see more of that on the show. Sex that is slow and meandering. Sex where penetrative intercourse is not seen as the main event and ejaculation is not the only possible finale.
A more thorough exploration of sex toys.
When I was just a baby sex writer reviewing sex toys for an adult personals site, I received what was then known as the Sex and the City vibrator: the Vibratex Rabbit Pearl. The toy was made famous by an episode of SATC in which Charlotte becomes enamored with the multiple orgasms the vibrator is able to provide and swears off men. She becomes so addicted to her vibrator that her friends have to stage an intervention.
Looking back, a few things don’t sit well with me. First off, the Rabbit Pearl is fine. But for a sex toy noob, there was a lot going on (almost too much). There are the twirling shaft, the tumbling pearls, and the frantically vibrating bunny ears. If that’s your jam, we have a whole line of dual-action “rabbit” vibrators you can try. But it would be great to see some less phallic toys featured on the series. My first love, for example, was a simple clitoral massager.
Then there’s the plot line that plays into existing fears that one’s vibrator can replace their partner. How awesome would it be to throw this tired trope to the side and see sex toys incorporated into couple play? I’m here for that!
An updated look at contemporary dating.
Sarah Jessica Parker told Vanity Fair that the coronavirus would be included in the new series, which brought up all sorts of dating-related issues in my mind.
First off, are all three ladies still firmly ensconced in their marriages? Recent news from Page Six alleges that Chris Noth (Mr. Big) will not be in the new series, but Noth himself has insinuated that we shouldn’t believe everything we see in “the rags.” The news on whether David Eigenberg (Steve Brady) will be returning is similarly wishy-washy. While I’d be heartbroken to lose Steve, giving Mr. Big the axe would certainly open up the possibility for Carrie to engage in some later-in-life dating… and perhaps end in a much healthier relationship? Or she could even be happily single? And if some of the ladies are newly single, will the BFFs talk dating apps? Will they touch upon the isolation that single people are feeling at this time? Will they acknowledge the considerations taken into account before letting someone new into your bubble? Will they discuss the myriad of ways couples can engage in intimacy from a distance if they’re not sheltered in place together? Sex tech? Audio porn? Zoom dates? GIVE US WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW.
A glimpse at how to maintain an active sex life as a parent.
I’m not sure if this has occurred to you, but by now both Charlotte and Miranda are the mothers of teens. Putting aside the possibility that Charlotte’s daughter and Miranda’s son had a childhood friendship that blossomed into a romance, I want to know whether or not their parents have been able to maintain an active sex life. And if so, how?
How do they find the time? How do they find the energy?
Seriously. Tell me. I need to know.
Also, as women who have previously been so unapologetic about their sexual desire, how has their sexual openness translated to the way they approach sex education in their home? This could be an interesting time for Charlotte and Miranda, rife with teachable moments—for everyone involved.
Also, has their front row seat to what the “kids these days” are doing led to some personal reflection on sexuality and aging—or maybe even inspired them to try something brand new?
An end to slut-shaming.
Finally, as forward-thinking as SATC purported to be, there was an awful lot of slut-shaming on the show, much of it directed toward Samantha. How many times did Charlotte rebuke her friends for their active sex lives, insisting that sex should only happen with someone you love? That mindset works for some, but what about sex for the sake of sex or sex for the sake of pleasure alone?
I hope that, by this point, these women’s attitudes have evolved to embrace the fact that sexuality—in all its consensual forms—is a natural and healthy part of the human experience and that they should approach the sex lives of others in a way that is shame-free and normalizing.
We’ve seen A LOT of reboots recently. Disney+ brought back Saved by the Bell with many of the cast taking on adult roles. ABC is now the home to American Idol. Netflix has made the most of streaming fan favorites by providing new versions of Gilmore Girls, Full House, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Some of these series struggle to take the beloved characters and face modern day issues, while others have become classics in their own right. Here’s hoping SATC will fall into the latter category and rise to the challenge.