And just like that, we’re here to ask the important questions about the new Sex And The City reboot. Primarily, how on earth are they going to fill that Samantha-shaped hole?
SATC may have been Carrie Bradshaw’s story, but there’s no denying that Samantha Jones was the show’s beating heart. Or, to be all Sam about it, she was the show’s throbbing… well, something far too crude for me to even attempt to try and get past my editors. Use your imagination, yeah?
Portrayed by the inimitable Kim Cattrall, Samantha put the ‘Sex’ in Sex And The City. Confident and fiercely independent, she wore whatever made her feel good, said whatever the hell she wanted, and embraced her sexuality with serious aplomb.
“I will not be judged by you or society,” she once fiercely informed her friend. “I will wear whatever and blow whomever I want as long as I can breathe – and kneel.”
All that being said, Sam was more than just ‘the sexy one’: she was also the character who challenged her friends on their bigoted, sexist and borderline hypocritical views. Who reminded us that there’s no such thing as ‘The One’. Who went to the ends of the earth for her chosen family. Who gave us a different kind of ‘happy ever after’ – one which skirted the age-old ‘marriage and babies’ mantra forced upon women by society, and instead saw her prioritise her own happiness. Hell, she even went as far as throwing herself an ‘I don’t have a baby’ shower, just because she could.
Perhaps most striking of all, though, was Sam’s breast cancer storyline. Giving us a much-needed switch from pink-ribbon platitudes, our girl gave us something far closer to the reality; the hot flashes, the hair loss, the wigs, the postmastectomy breast implants, the impact on a woman’s libido, the difficult conversations with friends and loved ones, and the pressing need to be strong for everyone else around you.
Sam was, to put it bluntly, a very big deal. So this writer couldn’t help but wonder, when she learned that Cattrall won’t be reprising her character in And Just Like That, aka the upcoming Sex And The City reboot, how the show can ever hope to recapture its original magic?
As previously reported, HBO’s And Just Like That will act as a follow-up to the original show and its two spin-off movies. In a statement, the series has been described as “following Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) as they navigate… the complicated reality of life and friendship in their fifties.”
Considering the original quartet always insisted that their friendship was forever (whatever happened to that whole “we can be each other’s soul mates” sentiment, eh?), though, something feels decidedly off about the whole scenario. Because, considering all that they’ve been through to date – the cancer, the long distance, the endless squabbles, the ill-advised storyline with the Sheikh, it’s really, really, really difficult to think up a scenario that would have driven the four friends apart forever.
SJP, of course, has dramatically hinted that none other than Covid-19 could be to blame for the fallout. The “[coronavirus pandemic will] obviously be part of the storyline, because that’s the city [these characters] live in,” she recently let slip.
“And how has [Covid-19] changed relationships once friends disappear? I have great faith that the writers are going to examine it all.”
Which means… what, exactly? That Samantha is a staunch anti-vaxxer and Covid-denier, so much so that she can’t bear to go to brunch with her three oldest friends anymore? That all of the world’s travel restrictions have forced her to remain far, far, far away from NYC (and she’s failed to download Zoom, too)? That – and brace yourselves for this one – Sam is one of the 612,000 American citizens who have lost their lives to Covid during the pandemic so far?
It’s all a bit dark, really, whichever path you choose to plunge your way down. Although there’s no denying that it’s a storyline that would make some big, hard (insert classic Samatha joke about something ‘big’ and ‘hard’ here) points about the divisive nature of this everlasting global health crisis.
Of course, there’s a chance that SATC writers may try to gloss over Sam’s absence; that she’ll be mentioned in passing, maybe when Carrie receives a WhatsApp from her, or Miranda spots her latest Instagram post, or Charlotte recalls a conversation she had with her over the phone.
In a way, though, this might actually be worse than cutting her out entirely, because it will remind us of the gaping Samantha-shaped hole in the wall.
“That’s where she should be,” they’ll basically be telling us, waving their hands dramatically in the direction of all that damaged brick and mortar. “But she’s not. Sorry about that. Try and forget about it, yeah?”
I guess, in a way, it’s a bit like serving up a big bowl of strawberries… without pouring any cream over the top. It’ll still taste delicious, once people get over their disappointment, because it will pack a nostalgia punch and a half, and it will still hit all of those familiar flavour beats, too. But there’s no getting away from the fact that it’ll be missing that key component everyone can’t stop themselves from craving.
Pretending the cream never existed isn’t an option, of course, and nor is overcompensating for its absence (let’s not try to replace the cream with a wacky Instagram-friendly option, yeah?). But being upfront about its absence – explaining the whys and the hows and the whats, taking the time to remember how much we all loved it, before encouraging everyone to try a spoonful regardless – is the best way to make sure those strawberries get their chance to shine.
I guess what I’m saying is this; the Sex And The City absolutely can work without Samantha, but it won’t be easy. And the show’s writers have one hell of a hell of a task on their hands making it stick – especially as her disappearance is (allegedly) going to be served up hand-in-hand with Carrie and Big’s divorce papers.
No wonder they decided to rename it, eh? Sex And The City promises fun and frivolity and fashionable brunches. And Just Like That, on the other hand, implies a sudden (and usually unwelcome) change of circumstances. Which, I suppose, is oddly fitting, considering how the world turned upside down last year.
Over to you, SATC.
Images: Getty/Rex Features
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.