Willie Garson’s Stanford Blatch may not have been one of the show’s main characters – but he brought something very special to Sex And The City.
“Willie Garson was in life, as on screen, a devoted friend and a bright light for everyone in his universe,” reads a statement from HBO/HBO Max.
“He created one of the most beloved characters from the HBO pantheon and was a member of our family for nearly 25 years. We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Garson – who appeared in all six seasons of the original SATC, as well as both of the franchise’s films – was, of course, also due to be a big part of the upcoming TV series, And Just Like That.
“These are And Just Like That episodes.”
Garson continued: “It’s an easy thing to talk about, you know – remake, reboot, they use all these horrible words – and for us, I don’t believe it’s either of those things.
“It’s new episodes about people that we know and their lives now, which has nothing to do with their lives 10 years ago.”
At this point, And Just Like That is still in production, which means it’s unclear whether or not the planned storyline around Stanford Blatch and his husband, Anthony (Mario Cantone), will be able to air as planned.
Naturally, though, Sex And The City fans remain hopeful that Garson’s character will appear in one or two episodes before they are forced to say goodbye to Stanford forever. And that’s largely because, despite the fact he was not among the show’s four leads, the reliably warm and witty Stanford was a big part of SATC’s magic.
On the surface, it’s all too easy to dismiss Stanford as nothing more than Carrie’s stylish – and catty – best male friend. Real SATC fans know, however, that he was so much more than that: lovers came and went for Carrie, but Stanford was her constant. Indeed, theirs was undoubtedly the most stable, and healthiest, relationship she has with any man on the show.
Yes, he loved to gossip. Yes, he voiced aloud the things many of us think but never have the guts to say. And, yes, he donned lavish and outlandish outfits that gave even Carrie’s expansive wardrobe a run for its money. But, beneath all of his bluff and bluster, Stanford was endlessly kind, taking it upon himself to give Carrie the tender tough love she needed to get through her many breakups and breakdowns.
And, while SATC definitely makes a point of extolling a woman’s friends as the true loves of her life, it’s worth noting that the friendship between Carrie and Stanford – which began in the 1980s, when the former was still riding the subways and wearing Candie’s – is every bit as important to her. Perhaps more so, even, than those she shares with her core group.
Think about it: Carrie and Stanford squabble, but they rarely (if ever) fall out; much like a comfy old shoe, all of the sharp edges and painful points have been rubbed away over time. He is the person she can turn to without shame or fear of judgement, no matter what she’s done. His is the arm she takes when she attends Lexi Featherston’s funeral. And he is the person she all-too-willingly dons a terrible tuxedo and Maleficent-esque hat for when performing her duties as his ‘best man’.
Above all else, though, Stanford is the friend who gently leads her back to her happy place whenever she is single-bashed or heartbroken – and he does it all without a sympathetic head tilt in sight. Just a smile, a joke, and an occasionally well-placed insult (remember when he referred to Carrie as “fashion roadkill”? Good times).
Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that he did it all with a wealth of humanity, too. A wealth of humanity which was, admittedly, sometimes missing elsewhere in the series.
Yes, Stanford was as much a part of Sex And The City as the fabulous outfits, the endless trays of cosmopolitans, and the ever-changing New York skyline. He was Carrie’s most loyal friend, the one constant male presence in her life. And it’s hard to imagine how the show can ever continue without him, quite honestly.
Thank goodness, then, that we know we will be able to bid goodbye to him in some way via And Just Like That – even if it proves all too brief.
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.