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Bring Me The Sex!

Listen, have you ever made a mistake? I know I have! (And chances are you have too. Unless you’ve failed at filling out a captcha – in which case you’re a bot and you should go torture some other website now.) And what did you do after that failure? Hopefully you learned from it, forgave yourself, and moved on. Now, how would you feel if it was your dear friend who fucked up? (We’re talking about something relatively minor here. Not, like, sleeping with your boyfriend or wearing mom jeans.) Would you scream at the person, shame them every chance you got, and exile them from your life for a minor infraction? Unless you’re a total psychopath, my guess is no.

So why can’t we do the same favor for the gals of Sex & The City? As you may have heard, the once beloved series is coming back to HBO for a revival (called And Just Like That) – and everyone has already lined up to dump on it before it’s even been filmed. Is that how you treat a friend?

Okay, yes – I can admit it. There are aspects of the series that are far from perfect. Some episodes haven’t aged well, and the second film is (infamously and rightfully) reviled. But, that said, this show is still important. It’s made an indelible mark on pop culture. It was, and is, a touchstone, lauded as an ode to friendship and a forever love letter to New York. Plus, it’s just so much damn fun to watch! (And watch and watch. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this in its entirety. It’s in the double digits.)

Here’s the thing – these women, this show, brought joy to our lives. It jump-started HBO out of a slump and became one of their flagship enterprises. It created jobs. It gave us iconic moments, memes, life & dating lessons, plus an excuse for countless “girl’s nights” and scintillating water cooler convos. It was respected. Anticipated. It was the critic’s darling. It was prestige television, helmed by women. It was devastating when it ended.

As the years have separated us from the end of the series, a certain shame began to waft in and settled permanently when (the truly horrible and misguided) Sex & The City 2 was released. Then the floodgates opened. SATC was not only knocked off its perch, it was trampled by hordes of once loyal fans eager to disavow it forever.

Which brings me to that mistake. Should the reputation of the entire show be dashed because of one misstep? Does one bad film negate an entire series? Why is it so easy to dismiss these women for doing us wrong one time? If that’s how you treat friends, well it’s probably best that we don’t know each other.

And yes, with distance it’s also become clear that Carrie kind of sucks. But you know what? So did Tony Soprano. But there he sits, enshrined forever as helming one of the best TV shows of all time. Meanwhile, Carrie gets dissed. They’re both anti-heroes and narcissists. Bonus – Carrie didn’t murder anybody! (Except Aiden’s ability to trust, but that’s another story.) Yet Carrie gets trashed and the once adored show gets made fun of.

And here’s where the hate reeks of sexism. Is it required that she be likeable? Is she required to be perfect? Sometimes a bad girlfriend is still a helluva good time. We don’t have to love her to love watching her. (*Yes, I agree very real and very public issues between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall complicate things. I understand that this doesn’t help boost the Carrie argument.) But why, as women, do we have to disavow, lessen, and/or justify what we love? There’s weight in fluff. Fluff is important. Equally as important – allowing women, especially fictional characters, to be shitty. Being perfectly nice is perfectly boring. Let Carrie be selfish. Who cares? She’s not carrying the mantle for all of womanhood. She’s just one person who loves shoes.

I, for one, am going to celebrate when And Just Like That finally airs on HBO. In a time when I thought something I loved was over for good, now there is more. And I look forward to more of something that’s given me so many good times! I’m going to hold out hope that the writers learned valuable lessons from the movie sequel. I’m going to watch with an open mind. I’m going to do what I would do for a friend – reserve judgement and let them shine. And, at the end of the day, I hope you do too. As Amy Kaufman tweeted, “Ugh, can we please stop acting like we won't watch every single minute of the new "Sex & the City" show??????” Because when a friend returns, you show up.

Bonus read: Emily Nussbaum's excellent essay regarding the "difficult women" of Sex & The City. Also, her book, I Like To Watch, is so great - I highly recommend!

* By the way, this is just one night in life of Sarah Jessica Parker. She's been acting since 1974, dated Robert Downey Jr., had a fling with JFK Jr., and literally transformed her life - born poor to self-made multimillionaire. To have that long of a career in Hollywood and still be creating sought-after content should be celebrated! I'm sure she was an asshole to Kim Cattrall - I'm not excusing that. But men in the entertainment industry have done far worse. Most are even revered for bad behavior. So why isn't she allowed the same? There are two sides to every story, and who knows. Maybe she is a jerk. But she's one hell of a hardworking one! (Honestly, more likely is the fact that she's a kind and complicated person with professional missteps and jealousies, capable of good & bad things, just like all of us.)


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