HBO Max’s Sex and the City revival can’t work without Samantha “Sam” Jones (played by Kim Cattrall) and John James “Mr. Big” Preston (played by Chris Noth). In January 2021, Variety confirmed the revival will consist of 10 half-hour episodes, titled “And Just Like That … ” and will bring back three of the show’s central characters: Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte York Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis), and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon). The hit show aired on HBO from 1998-2004 and followed four women as they navigated dating, careers, and friendships in New York City. The movie spawned two feature films and a prequel, The Carrie Diaries. Excitement about the revival has been overshadowed by the question of whether moving forward without Samantha is a mistake.
The announcement of the revival, which is scheduled to begin production this spring, has generated a great deal of buzz, most of it surrounding the absence of Kim Cattrall. Cattrall has been vocal in the press and on social media over the years about her contentious relationship behind the scenes with the other women, particularly Parker. In a 2019 interview with the Daily Mail, Cattrall said she’d “never” do another Sex and the City movie, seemingly ending the franchise. As fans continue to speculate how the revival will address Samantha’s absence (including Samantha possibly being killed off), the news recently broke that Noth will not be reprising his role Carrie’s long-time love interest turned husband in the upcoming series (Noth hasn’t confirmed or denied his involvement.)
By far the most sex-positive of the core four, Samantha put much of the “sex” in Sex and the City. More importantly, the show emphasized the importance of enduring female friendships. Even if Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha didn’t always agree with each other’s life choices, they unconditionally supported and loved one another. The show offered a rarely seen depiction of women who weren’t jealous, combative, or competing for male attention. If a hint dropped by HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys is an indicator of how the revival will deal with Samantha no longer being part of the group, that’s all about to change. Bloys told TVLine, “Friendships fade, and new friendships start. … They’re trying to tell an honest story about being a woman in her 50s in New York. So it should all feel somewhat organic, and the friends that you have when you’re 30, you may not have when you’re 50.” This is a sharp turnaround for women who were self-proclaimed “soul mates.”
It’s not just friendships that will be fading. Noth’s Mr. Big could also be missing from the reboot. This introduces additional plot complications that may not go over well with fans. Secondary only to the core fore’s friendships was Carrie’s on-again-off-again romance with the charismatic Mr. Big. Although the couple overcame marital strife in Sex and the City 2, their relationship is now assuredly doomed. On a 2018 episode of his Origins podcast, journalist James Andrew Miller revealed the screenplay for the cancelled Sex and the City 3 revolved around a widowed Carrie (Mr. Big died from a heart attack in the shower). It’s a logical but bleak assumption the revival will resuscitate the storyline. None of Carrie’s other love interests ever lived up to Big, proving Noth’s shoes are tough to fill. The original series and the first movie showed Carrie mourning the loss of this relationship, so do fans need to see her do it again?
While Sex and the City tackled more substantial subject matter amidst the womens’ amusing sexual exploits, the revival appears to be headed down a darker path paved by the absence of two key characters. The show’s legacy has been tainted by off-screen feuding and disappointing films. The series finale gave the main characters satisfying endings to their respective stories, making the revival feel like a vanity project. In January, Parker posted a teaser for the series on her Instagram account with the caption, “I couldn’t help but wonder … where are they now?” Without Cattrall and Noth returning for the revival, it’s tempting to respond “Who cares?”