“Year after year, twenty-something women come to New York City in search of the two “L”s: labels and love. Twenty years ago, I was one of them. Having gotten the knack for labels early…I concentrated on love.” – Carrie Bradshaw
That might well have been written by a gay man about gay men. And that’s exactly what many said when Sex and the City hit the small careen in 1998. The half hour comedy show, about four single women’s search for careers, love and existential meaning in the Big Apple was after all created by a gay man – Darren Star.
And, so the question rang out, were Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte not really just gay men in disguise? There may be some truth to the observation that gay men obsess and talk about sex, love to shop and constantly struggle with defining the boundaries between intimacy and carnal pleasure, but then so do women (or so I’ve been told).
So let’s be satisfied with the notion that the series has historically appealed primarily to gay men and heterosexual women – leaving most straight guys scratching their heads as to why we tuned in to the show religiously every week for six years.
And they’ll undoubtedly remain just as confused when we flock to cinemas to see Sex and the City: The Movie – which is released worldwide at the end of the month.
The television show debuted in 1998 on HBO; a subscription cable channel, which meant that Sex and the City could get away with profanity, brief nudity and adult topics. From the outset we loved its openness about the subject we think and talk about all the time – Sex.
THE WIT OF SEX AND THE CITY
Carrie: So are you saying there’s no way you’d go out with a guy who lived with his family?
Samantha: Well… maybe Prince William.
Samantha: You dated Mr. Big. I’m dating Mr. Too Big.
Samantha: There isn’t enough wall space in New York City to hang all of my exes. Let me tell you, a lot of them were hung.
Stanford: It’s so not fair. All the good ones are straight… even the gay ones.
Carrie: The universe may not always play fair, but at least it’s got a hell of a sense of humor.
Samantha: I’ll admit I have had to polish myself off once or twice, but yes, when I RSVP to a party, I make it my business to come.
Carrie: So what are we going to do? Sit around bars, sipping Cosmos and sleeping with strangers when we’re eighty?
Charlotte: My vagina’s depressed.
Samantha: The country runs better with a good looking man in the White House. I mean, look what happened with Nixon; no one wanted to fuck him, so he fucked everyone.
Samantha: You men have no idea what we’re dealing with down there. Teeth placement, and jaw stress, and suction, and gag reflex, and all the while bobbing up and down, moaning and trying to breathe through our noses. Easy? Honey, they don’t call it a job for nothin’.
Carrie: I revealed too much too soon. I was emotionally slutty.
Carrie: The most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them, and others you don’t. But, in the end, they’re the people you always come home to. Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into and sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.
Miranda: Do any of you have a completely unremarkable friend or maybe a houseplant I could go to dinner with on Saturday night?
Sex and the City’s origins lie in a series of autobiographical newspaper columns in The New York Observer by author Candace Bushnell. She later compiled these into a book, which became a bestseller when it was published in 1996.
Darren Star, the creator and executive producer of television shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, saw immediate potential in Bushnell’s writings about sexual politics among New York’s social set.
“I read those articles and I thought, ‘wow, this is a great window into New York,’” Star recalls. “I just loved the character of a single woman who is writing about herself and exploring the city and the nature of relationships at the same time.”
Star asked Michael Patrick King, the man who would go on to executive produce the series as well as eventually write and direct the feature film, to join the series as a writer and as co-executive producer.
Sex and the City ran for six illustrious seasons before the finale in 2004 – earning 50 Emmy nominations during its run and winning seven; not to mention the Screen Actors Guild nods, Golden Globes and many other awards it garnered.
It all came to an end in 2004 – while thankfully still on a creative high. But the show’s fans have never forgotten Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte thanks to re-runs (including bastardised censored versions for mainstream US television) as well as the DVDs of the series. Sex and the City really is the kind of show you can watch again and again.
“The success of the show stemmed from a lot of things,” says Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda. “It starts with the writing. It’s really clever and heartfelt writing. People watch the show over and over, the same episode five, ten times because it’s so jam-packed full of content. Not just jokes – ideas.”
There was talk of a movie version almost as soon as the show ended but Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha, was not happy with the salary offered to her – wanting the same fee as Sarah Jessica Parker. Admirably the team chose to not make the film without her and the production was halted.
However, something changed in late 2006 when it was announced that Cattrall had finally signed on to the movie.
“It’s nice to step into Samantha’s skin again, but I’m only doing the film for the money. Samantha is very dear to me and I have such a wonderful time playing her, but I can’t say more for the experience than wanting financial security,” she admitted to Reveal magazine.
Parker doesn’t seem to have any bitterness over the haggling and recently stated that the delay may have been a good thing.
“Perhaps she (Cattrall) was some kind of emotional psychic, because this way we made a better movie,” she told New York magazine revealing that the film ended up being based on a new, better script, different from the original story that had been proposed.
Principal photography on the Sex and the City movie began in New York City on September 19th, 2007. For Sarah Jessica Parker, stepping in front of the cameras to once again star as Carrie Bradshaw felt very natural. “The first day was so familiar that I didn’t even think about it,” she says.
Nevertheless, predictably, rumours of cat-fights between the women abounded throughout the production. (According to the media it seems that any group of working women invariably has to become entangled in bitchy catfights. Strangely, disagreements between men are never referred to as such.)
The movie’s storyline has been swathed in secrecy, but what we do know