h, lockdown. While friends picked up Anna Karenina or burst out the door running (‘Really, it helps clear your head’. ‘Really, I’m fine thank you’) I found there was just one true antidote to cure the deficit of fun, friends and frivolity. A glass of wine, and an episode (or five) of Sex and the City.
God, I’d forgotten how fabulous it was. Stuck in my childhood bedroom, somewhere in Suffolk, and reunited with the four women I had fallen in love with at 15. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her mates, the brainchild of author Candace Bushnell who were transposed to the screen by Darren Star, still had New York and its men at their fingertips.
They went to art openings and ducked behind fashion show curtains; to pool parties in the Hamptons and post-work drinks at some novelty club opening that week. And oh, did they do it in silly, mix n’ match style – cigarette in hand. Vast furs and tiny leopard kitten heels; Galliano newspaper dresses and Chanel’s enormous earrings; hats you wouldn’t even find at Ascot and that little tutu. Not to mention the sex. 94 episodes and two feature films full of hot sex, sweaty sex, shit sex, and kinky sex; experimental sex, oral sex, anal sex and that kind of toe-curling, bed-framing gripping, screamingly great sex everyone missed.
When it first aired on HBO, 1998 – 2004, everyone was invited to Vogue and Valentino (via Carrie’s completely unaffordable apartment) following the dates, breaks, friendships and fall-outs of Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall). All while Carrie, loveable if a raging narcissist, documented it in her newspaper sex column for all of New York to read.
Yes, I relapsed into the gateway drug that lead me to journalism and fashion in the first place. In a few months I’d re-watched all six seasons three times over. So when Nixon tweeted a teaser clip of New York’s skyline and bridges, horns honking and then – Carrie’s unmistakable, soothing narrative voice whispering “and just like that” on January 10, I have to say I got goose bumps. Across the screen “the story continues” was typed. The countdown to a new series had begun.
It also came with a stinging backhand. Cattrall’s promiscuous, loveable PR maven Samantha, who generally speaking was the favourite character, would not be returning.
But, if like me you’re reminded of the gang every time you order a Cosmo, or hear the lines “Sometimes I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I found it fed me more” each time you plonk a glossy mag on top of your frozen pizza in Sainbury’s, you’ll take what you can get.
Now there is little over a fortnight before we meet again. Excited? In the words of Carrie’s infamously difficult partner, Mr Big (portrayed by Chris North): abso-fucking-lutley.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING… AND HOW CAN I WATCH?
And Just Like That… will be available to stream from December 9 on Sky, Now TV and HBO Max. One. For. Your. Diary. They’ve made 10 episodes, each half an hour. Unfortunately, if you’ve just subconsciously planned a five hour binge, be patient. Two drop first – then you’ll have to wait until Thursdays.
Michael Patrick King, who worked on the original series, has executively produced it with the three leading ladies, heading up an all-female writing team to structure storylines following Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte through their 50s. Think trials and tribulations around divorce, teenagers, and, of course, a healthy helping of new lovers.
WHO’LL BE BACK BETTER THAN EVER?
Paparazzi pictures and Instagram posts have left a trail of breadcrumbs as to who and what we can expect. I’m frightened to find out how Carrie and Big’s tempestuous relationship has – or hasn’t – coped with years of marriage. She’s a podcaster now, too. Rumour is that Miranda will be with a woman. What does that mean for sweet husband Steve (David Eigenberg), and their child Brady? And pictures of ex-gallerist Charlotte and her husband Harry Goldenblatt’s (Evan Handler) adopted daughter Lily (Cathy Ang) and biological child Rose (Alexa Swinton) looking glamorous in Oscar De La Renta dresses caused hysteria online. Can they be a dream happy family?
Then there is Charlotte’s snarky wedding planner Anthony Marantino (Mario Cantone) who married the charming Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) in the second film. The one with the swans officiated by Liza Minnelli. Devastatingly, while still filming And Just Like That…, Garson died from pancreatic cancer on September 21 this year, but still appeared in the trailer with that chipmunk chuckle, just as cheeky as before.
WHAT’S THE SCANDAL, SAMANTHA?
In January, Sarah Jessica Parker addressed gutted masses on the topic of a series sans Samantha: “Samantha isn’t part of this story,” she said, “but she will always be part of us, no matter where we are or what we do.” (I never claimed it was insightful.)
The chances were always desperately slim. A third film fell through amid rumours of tension that dates back years: Parker always got a higher wage, but Cattrall brought in the crowds. In 2009 New York magazine reported the pair were no longer speaking, even on set. More recently, in 2019, Parker tweeted condolences after the death of Cattrall’s brother, and the latter severed ties: “You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your ‘nice girl’ persona,” she wrote on Instagram. Um, no. I don’t think we can even expect a cameo.
WILL IT BE WOKE? THIS TIME…
Nixon, an LGBTQI+ advocate who ran for Governor of New York in 2018, told Vogue “the incredible lack of diversity was the Achilles’ heel of the show, the first time around.” It’s the reason many dismiss the return, and a corner of TikTok is sectioned off to point out its most problematic moments. A re-cap: Samantha uses transphobic slurs in season three, Carrie declares bisexuality doesn’t exist in season one, and there’s that awful, racially charged argument between Samantha and the sister of a Black man she dated, also season three.
This time around, political correctness will be on the table. A more diverse writing team includes authors Samantha Irby and Rachna Fruchbom and producer Keli Gof. What does that mean? New characters! Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) is the series’ first non-binary role, while Sarita Choudhury, Nicole Ari Parker and Karen Pittman are billed to bring characters of colour with properly fleshed stories to the screen. And to Vanity Fair, while letting on the episodes will “obviously” recognise Covid-19, Parker said the plot will navigate “life experience, political world views, and social world views.” More than threesomes this time, then.
FAB FASHION, OR FRUMPY FLOP?
Ok, if all else fails – the new season fashion could be a saving grace. The original series, costumed by Patricia Field, ushered in a new wave of high-low style (flat caps, hot pants and Hermès) and opened Seventh Avenue’s hallowed halls to the hordes.
Carrie wore the Dior Saddle Bag and the purple sequin Fendi bag (“This is not a bag, it’s a Baguette!” as she told that mugger). Her voicemail was “It’s Carrie. I’m shoe shopping,” and her heels were Manolo Blahniks. But this year there are new costume designers – Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago. Can they keep up the eclecticism?
If the @andjustlikethatcloset Instagram is to go by, it looks like it. The account forensically reports on every garment and accessory spotted on set to its eager 106k strong following. We’ve seen Carrie in patent Celine platforms, Cynthia Rowley duvet jackets and… lilac washing up gloves. There have been glimpses of sophisticated Charlotte in Carolina Herrera blouses and Emilia Wickstead A-line dresses, and Miranda relaxed in Dries Van Noten kaftans and wearing Loewe’s balloon bag. And wait for the vintage – Jean Paul Gaultier suits from SS97 and Givenchy by Galliano ruffle tops from AW96 are only the tip of the stiletto.
Because, if there’s one thing about Carrie we know won’t change, it’s a penchant for purchasing. After all… “I like my money where I can see it,” as she so famously says, with that guilty grin. “Hanging in my closet.”
And Just Like That airs on Sky Comedy and NOW TV from December 9