Binging Sex and the City is a rite of passage. Many of us have lived vicariously through the swanky sisterhood of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha's brunch dates. We ordered cosmopolitans because of them, and Post-Its gave us PTSD. Their glamorous New York City lives set the barometer for which many women, including this one, modeled their careers after. On Monday, Sarah Jessica Parker announced that the iconic HBO series would be reprised as And Just Like That, a new chapter of the network's flagship franchise. "I couldn't help but wonder… Where are they now?" she wrote on Instagram accompanied by a short teaser. Except, after six seasons and two feature films, we can probably make an educated guess about their whereabouts: Three married (Kim Cattrall won't be returning), well-off white women in New York City are doing just fine. After surviving a year that felt like a cultural reset, it seems like Hollywood is committed to telling the same stories.
The world does not operate in the homogeneous bubble that allowed shows like Sex and the City and Friends to thrive. The veil of Barack Obama's "post-racial" America disappeared after four years of an administration led by Donald Trump, who appeared briefly on the show's second season. Sex and the City served the world a mythical version of New York City, one that barely addressed race. In an era where Black Lives Matter is a mainstream movement and domestic terrorists can march into a federal building, is And Just Like That really necessary?
Sarah Jessica Parker knows that despite Sex and the City's reputation as a cult classic, the show hasn't aged well. "You couldn't make [the show] today because of the lack of diversity on screen," she said in a 2018 interview. "I personally think it would feel bizarre."
When a third film fell through (and rightfully so, after its deeply problematic Sex and the City sequel), Parker agreed that a reboot, particularly one with a different cast, might also not bode well. "It wouldn't be a reboot as I understand it," she said. "If you came back and did six episodes, you'd have to acknowledge that the city is not hospitable to those same ideas. You'd look like you were generationally removed from reality, but it would be certainly interesting to see four diverse women experiencing NYC their way… It would be interesting and very worth exploring, but it couldn't be the same." So, what's changed?
On Monday, Variety reported that Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis are each expected to bring in $1 million per episode for 10 episodes of And Just Like That. To be honest, we could think of about 30 million other ways HBO could have allocated $30 million—especially considering the statement by the network following the death of George Floyd, along with much of Hollywood, claiming to "strive toward making a lasting impact." Recent HBO series like Watchmen and Lovecraft Country, which used science fiction to make race palatable for wider audiences, are proof of the infinite possibilities that can happen when the industry stops force feeding us the same shows. Watchmen's cancellation, despite being nominated for 26 Emmys last year, is also an indication that shows with Black leads are often the first to go. How many more times can we look at Carrie and know she should've chosen Aidan?
It's probably too early to write off And Just Like That completely, but there is a lot of truth into Parker's 2018 comments about a reboot. The franchise is Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, living in the whitewashed world created for them. They were not meant to function in a world as aware as 2021, and expecting them to emerge as newly developed characters navigating this new world is a recipe for disaster.
Kristin Corry is a Senior Staff Writer for VICE.