The world has a lot of thoughts about HBO Max’s upcoming Sex And The City reboot, And Just Like That – although, admittedly, these thoughts tend to revolve around one big question: how can a new SATC series ever hope to work without Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones?
As if the dissolution of the original quartet’s unbreakable friendship wasn’t enough to give us pause for thought, however, it’s worth noting that a leaked script for the reboot has seemingly confirmed that we will be dealing with another major fallout, too.
That’s right, SATC fans; Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) will apparently be breaking up. Again.
In a photo of the alleged script, which has been shared online by Page Six, Carrie remarks: “I was doing well, wasn’t I doing well? Before this? I mean, I was doing the podcast, I was washing my hair. Yes, I wasn’t eating or sleeping, but at least I felt good about my marriage. Now I’m just one of the wives he was taking care of?”
Considering Big was married twice before getting with Carrie, it seems as if their rumoured D-I-V-O-R-C-E will put her in a club of three. And, of course, it paves the way for a great deal of drama and speculation as to whether or not the iconic duo will reunite romantically come the end of the series.
At the same time, though, this writer can’t help but wonder why we’re embarking on this journey for a fourth time. Well, officially the fourth time, anyway; the pair were never strictly platonic, after all. Over the years, we’ve watched Carrie break up with Big because he wouldn’t introduce her to his mother, and Big break up with Carrie to marry the 20-something Natasha (Bridget Moynahan), only to reappear in Carrie’s life months later and begin an ill-fated affair with her.
Later, Big ruined Carrie’s relationship with Aidan (John Corbett), followed her to Paris to declare his undying love to her, left her at the altar on their wedding day, convinced her to give him yet another undeserved chance at making things right, and then got a little…
Well, he got a little too complacent with his marriage – subsequently driving his wife back into the arms of aforementioned ex-boyfriend, Aidan, during a trip to Dubai.
Come the end of the second SATC movie, Big presented Carrie with a black diamond engagement ring – reigniting the spark in their relationship or staking his territory, depending on your own personal interpretation. And we all, as one, breathed a sigh of relief; our ride on this particular romantic rollercoaster and its seemingly neverending series of loop-the-loops was over at last.
Ha. To quote Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, it wasn’t over. It still isn’t over. And, god help us, it will never be over.
Of course, this trope of the on-and-off couple is one we’ve seen play out on screen thousands of times before. We had it with Friends’ Ross and Rachel, and The X Files’ Mulder and Scully, and Gilmore Girls’ Luke and Lorelai, and… well, you get the picture.
It’s rare, too, to find a film sequel that doesn’t break the central couple up only to get them back together again; in fact, I can only think of two off the top of my head right now – My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and The Mummy Returns.
So, why is this? Well, because it’s easier to instil drama into a storyline if a relationship isn’t set in stone, for starters. Because breaking a couple up for good would break the hearts of diehard shippers everywhere, dragging ratings down like mad in the process.
And because the early flush of new romance is always so much more exciting to explore than an established couple’s relationship; nobody wants to deal with compromise and middle grounds and stability, when they can have all those fun first dates and stolen kisses and unexpected proposals instead.
Here’s the thing, though; all of this on-and-offing creates a pretty unhealthy portrayal of love. Think about it; Carrie and Big’s was an incredibly toxic relationship, filled to the brim with red flags, yet people still hold them up as one of the best TV couples of all time.
Ross and Rachel, likewise, should never have been endgame material – but people lost their minds when she “got off the plane” (giving up her dream job in the process) in the Friends finale so she could settle down with the man who a) cheated on her, b) pretended he’d secured their divorce, only to secretly stay married to her for months, and c) dubbed her “just a waitress.”
Where are the onscreen couples who teach us, then, that great relationships require work and effort from both partners? That love is a choice, and one which requires that both people meet halfway and put in the effort to grow and develop as individuals and as a couple? That we shouldn’t throw in the towel at the first hurdle, but sit down and talk about our problems like actual human beings?
On the flipside, where are the onscreen couples that just, y’know, break up? For good? Because, let’s face it, sometimes relationships don’t work. Sometimes, the problems are too massive to overcome, and everyone’s core values have shifted too dramatically, and the best thing for everyone involved is to end things.
To quote Rita Mae Brown, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
The Carries and the Rachels of the TV world might be fun to watch, but they unwittingly teach us some unhelpful lessons; that drama is fundamental to a relationship. That falling in love is easy, so long as you do it over and over again with the same person. And that breakups are never the end; not really, anyway.
Maybe this time, though, Carrie and Big will embrace their new roles as exes. Maybe they will grieve the embers of what they had together, before moving on to find happiness elsewhere. Maybe this time, Carrie’s epiphany will go something along the lines of, “And just like that, I realised that I owed more to myself than wasting my time and emotional energy on something that’s irreparably broken.”
Then again, maybe not; she doesn’t have Samantha on hand to advise her, after all. We guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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.