Sex And The City is back, but without Samantha. What’s a bit like intercourse without the orgasm: what’s the point?
So while it’s all a lot of women my age I can talk about, I won’t be turning on the show’s reboot, And Just Like That…, when it airs next week.
The original series was unwavering in its portrayal of the love lives and friendships of four women. It grounded my generation from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s — and irrevocably changed the way we talked about sex.
Now it’s back. The teaser trailer shows Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte, now in their mid-50s, resuming their story in New York, where not much seems to have changed. Sarah Jessica Parker, as Carrie, beeps at a restaurant reservation. Kristin Davis’ Charlotte runs her finger over flowers in her Park Avenue apartment. As a career-driven Miranda, Cynthia Nixon’s hair is more epic than ever.
Emily Hill explains why she won’t be watching the new Sex And The City series, as Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha (pictured), confirms she won’t be returning for the reboot
On YouTube, it’s been viewed nearly nine and a half million times, but only got 12,000 likes, suggesting I’m not the only one who got turned off. “This feels like being introduced to your dad’s new girlfriend,” one comment reads. ‘Smile. Be polite. Wait to judge until you can officially confirm that you hate her.’
What is missing, of course, is the fourth friend: the independent and uninhibited Samantha. Kim Cattrall, the Liverpool-born actress who played the character for six seasons and two films, has confirmed she will not be returning after an explosive feud with her co-stars.
Most of us assumed her character would be murdered, but instead reports say “Sam” was sent to London in a storyline that “was the perfect way to keep her alive and explain her absence.” Viewers will find that she’s doing well in England, even though she’s arguing with Carrie.”
As someone who is always arguing with everyone, I raise a cosmopolitan against Kim for bringing her kitten heel down on the subject of playing Samantha again — considering what they’ve done to her character in the movies.
Sex And The City was first screened in 1998. The entire series begins with Carrie’s announcement that love is dead in Manhattan. While the others are obsessed with getting married and having children, Samantha is different.
She’s the oldest over 40, a publicist, and her approach is if you can’t beat the culture, enjoy it: “Honey, this is the first time in Manhattan history that women have had as much money and power as men.” , plus the equal luxury of treating men as sex objects.’
The series started when I was a 15-year-old virgin and I had no sympathy for this approach, as I read a lot of books and was going to marry Darcy, Willoughby or Wentworth. Clear.
As funny as I found Samantha, her life was hard to identify. I didn’t think anyone should be treated as a sex object.
Emily, who has seen Sex And The City twice, said the real heroine of the show is Samantha. Pictured from left: Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis
But in lockdown, 38 years old, still single and so defeated after 20 years on the dating frontline that I’m waving the white flag of surrender, I’ve re-watched the entire Sex And The City – twice.
Once out of sheer loneliness and then a second time because I was suddenly struck by what I had missed the first time. That’s that the real heroine of the show, and the only one who actually grows up, isn’t Carrie (who cheats on the nice guy Aidan and ends up with the guy she’s cheating on him with – Big); Charlotte, who marries with money (of course, he’s bald, but she gets to keep that apartment); or Miranda, the second wave feminist who has a husband, a child, and a housekeeper.
No, the nicest, most human is always Samantha. She’s the one who tells Big to stop messing with Carrie. She babysits Miranda despite hating children.
She defends Charlotte, who longs to become a mother, when a pregnant friend steals the name she made up for her yet-to-be-conceived baby (this is my favorite part of the entire 47-hour SATC; Samantha yells ‘You b*** *!” at the mother-to-be, puts her arm around Charlotte and escorts her from the baby shower). And all this despite the fact that she is repeatedly used horribly by men without any humanity.
Like them, I’m so tired of being used by men. I’m all Team Sam
In a world of dating apps that have now let love die in both London and Manhattan, I don’t just sympathize, I slam my fist on the table and yell, “Je suis Samantha!”
At one point, Sam has her heart burned by the evil Richard. In response, she attaches pictures of him to lampposts to warn other women and is stopped by a policewoman who tells her it’s a crime. Sam reveals what he did and is told ‘Go on, ma’am’.
It’s hilarious, but it also has to be the most heartbreaking moment of the series. As someone who now knows what it’s like to have her own heart burned, I feel the pain of this in a way I can’t with the other breakups on the show.
Anyone who has ever loved Sex And The City identifies with one of them – I’ve always said I’m a writer like Carrie, as cynical as Miranda and a Pollyanna like Charlotte. But when I rewatched the series, and got so tired of being used by men, I was all Team Sam.
Emily wished that at the end of series six, Samantha had walked into the sunset with Smith and never came back. Pictured from left: Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes, Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones and Kristin Davis as Charlotte York
Was a life of endless sex what she chose or pretended to because she refused to see herself as a victim? This feels so relevant to modern dating that I’m thinking of printing T-shirts with her epic line: ‘The right man is an illusion. Start living your life!’
Despite telling everyone that she only wants sex, Samantha is in three serious relationships. When she finally finds a decent, beautiful man, Smith, it’s like watching my mom’s love advice proven on screen. (“It happens when you least expect it,” she says.)
When Sam starts dating Smith, she is so shocked that he tries to hold her hand in public that she falls down a flight of stairs and breaks her foot.
What is crucial is not her cosmic libido, but her human heart
And yet, as he slowly gains her trust, she pays him back a thousandfold, using working relationships to transform him from a raw food diner waiter into a Hollywood star. It is proof that what matters most to Samantha Jones is not her cosmic libido, but her human heart.
What I hate (hate, hate!) about the movies is that they ruined this happy ending. In the first, she was sent to LA and became a sort of desperate housewife, making Smith sushi by hand and using her naked body as a saucer, only for him to call to work. (“How,” I yelled, “Has Sam nothing to do but wait for him at home? She’s a publicist—in LA.”)
It’s also suggested that Sam has let himself go, so why even make time for her? “Mother of God, what’s the matter with the intestines?” a friend asks her when she comes back to NY looking thinner than me.
By the second film, Samantha’s menopause in her fifties had become a two-hour joke. It culminated in her taking off her clothes in a souk because she was sweating so much, throwing condoms in the air and yelling, “I’m having sex!” to all the offended Muslim men who surrounded her.
Who knows what horrible things they would have done to her in this new series. Kim Cattrall has been criticized for refusing to reprise the role, first when a Sex And The City 3 was proposed (“I remember getting a lot of grief on social media,” she said) and now before the reboot.
Personally, I wish she’d walked into the sunset with Smith at the end of series six and never come back. Because if Sam Jones can’t get out of the dating game with her dignity intact, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Emily Hill wrote Bad Romance. Her novel Love In Late Capitalism will be released on Valentine’s Day.