And just like that, Sex and the City is back. Sort of.
The reboot, which comes complete with a new moniker, will be a story about women navigating life in their 50’s. It will also come with a far greater dose of realism than its early-noughties predecessor, both in the form of a pandemic – Sarah Jessica Parker has confirmed And Just Like That… will touch on coronavirus’ impact on New York City – and in the absence of Samantha.
Kim Cattrall’s failure to sign up has, inevitably, been headline grabbing. After all, the tabloids love nothing more than the prospect of a juicy catfight between two female celebs, especially when there are million-dollar-per-episode fees at stake.
But in truth, that’s just how things are in the real world. People come into your life and co-exist with you for a while, experiencing key chapters of your story with you before abruptly leaving, or slowly slipping away from your friendship hemisphere.
And if that’s what we’re going to see acknowledged on screen, then I’m all for it. Why? Because it’s time we shattered the myths around what friendship between women really looks like.
The original Sex and the City sold a fantasy in so many ways. From the stilettos to the style, the brunches to the blokes, it painted a picture of a world few could aspire to emulate. On a deeper level though, it also propagated a female friendship myth that left many women feeling left out of the picture.
The ebb and flow of friendships is a stark reality of what we experience through womanhood. Relationships don’t always stand the test of time, and sometimes the breakup of a friendship can feel every bit as crippling as the end of a romantic coupling.
Yet Sex and the City’s world view suggests that we have somehow failed in life if we don’t have a group of close girlfriends. And most of the women I’ve worked with do not.
Among the many hundreds of women I’ve spoken to in my years of practice, the SATC picture is rare. While lots of women have acquaintances and colleagues, far fewer have a best friend, let alone a group of them, and the romantic notion of the inseparable girlfriend clique really is not their reality.
Instead, in between life and work and, for some, children, trying to maintain a social life that dovetails in with regular friend dates – individually or as a group – is a real challenge. Especially when everyone’s lives evolve at a different pace.
It always intrigued me how Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte managed to physically and mentally come together as often as they did, in between high-flying careers, relationships, kids and life generally. What did they sacrifice? Because one thing is for sure – it is impossible to have and do it all, even with Mr Big’s city car on call.
An injection of reality
In all of our lives, something has to give. That’s always been the case, but if there’s one thing that has universally taken a hit in this pandemic, it’s our friendships.
There will be friends who really haven’t tried to keep in touch – who haven’t responded to texts, returned your calls, been willing to jump on Zoom, or even just sent a WhatsApp to check you’re still alive. Indeed, pandemic aside, at some point in our lives we’ve all either been on the receiving end of such a one-way friendship, or we’ve been the person who hasn’t made someone else feel worthy of our time. Sometimes it’s conscious, sometimes not – but amid the pressures of the pandemic, it has become starkly noticeable.
But while there’s rarely any excuse for people not showing they care, collective trauma has to be up there as a semi-reasonable explanation for friendships going AWOL.
It may be that some friendships had already run their course before the pandemic struck, and the inability to connect in real life has given you the green light to let them go. It could be you have a fairweather friendship, one which doesn’t need a lot of nurturing and will return at some point in the future when things are calmer.
But wherever you are, friendship-wise, please consider this caveat: we have all been living through trauma.
Now is the time to be extra kind to each other. Because your friendships deserve a route map out of this pandemic too, even the ones that have struggled and limped along. And if, in the cold light of lockdown-easing some bonds can’t be salvaged, at least you’ll know you tried.
So, one silver lining of the last 12 months might have been that lockdown has helped you re-evaluate the whole female friendship thing. Maybe you’ve discovered that quality over quantity wins hands down every time. Perhaps it’s helped you to reframe your expectations. Maybe you’ve identified relationships you don’t want to rush back to, or have felt the push you needed to seek out women you actually want to connect with? All of these are positive developments.
But whatever way you’ve gone, it’s worth remembering that you’ve not failed because your friendships have evolved.
Having said all that, I’m excited to see what Carrie and co look like as a 50-something trio. I’m dying to find out why Big is out of the picture, whether Miranda managed to maintain her legal career and if Charlotte really did live happily ever after. I’m even excited to see whether the pandemic brings the show down to earth and makes them all more relatable.
But most of all, I’ll be holding on to one key fact – the show is not a true reflection of reality. It is pure escapism. And right now, we could all do with a bit of that…