Let’s take a break from our brutal reality and dive into the make-believe world of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and the epic loss of Samantha Jones, a role that actress Kim Cattrall luxuriously embodied for six magnificent seasons, including the two feature films that would follow.
During it’s heralded run as one of HBO’s most prolific offering, Sex and the City, centered around the enduring friendship of four youngish women, stylishly juggling careers and complexities of romantic entanglements, against the stunning backdrop of the City. Viewers were captivated by the intoxicating mix of breakups, one-nightstands, bar crawls, and the eternal pursuit of love everlasting.
Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda were the more grounded trio, who made it easy for the rambunctiousness of Samantha to stand out with appealing audacity of her sexual prowess, seamlessly tied into her successful career in PR, which empowered the industry maven to be the social butterfly of the group in the City that never sleeps.
The notoriously eye-popping exploits of the older and wiser Samantha Jones, when it came to giving her rotation of gents a run for their money, and then some, was the flaming rulebook of dating 101, that could only be mastered by a memorable character, who was unapologetically ruthless about premium fulfillment, both under the sheets and wherever else it counts.
Like most avid fans, I remember the ceremonial end to the glitzy series in 2004. It elevated the stakes for die-hard New Yorkers like myself, who moved to The Big Apple at an impressionable age, to take big bites out of unrealized hopes and dreams.
In the end — each of the women we had grown attached to, even those of us who didn’t see ourselves reflected in the most diverse metropolis in the country, seemed to be satisfactorily content with each other and the partners for life who dramatically made the cut.
Four years after the series finale, Sex and the City received the big screen treatment, and historically reunited the beloved icons of New York City’s scenic landscape, in a sprawling movie that picked up where we left them.
It was the continuation of unexpected twists and turns from an exhilarating roller coaster that eventually comes to rest where it began; stronger and more secure.
The heightened applause and appreciation for the grand return of the celebrated ladies in their prime, thanks to the box office blowout, both home and abroad, solidifying the viability of a lucrative franchise, was promptly launched for a second attempt to replicate the magical cinematic debut.
Unfortunately the highly-anticipated sequel was a scornful failure that deviated from the originality of the brand, by generically treading unimaginative territory with weakly woven themes, that exposed the traitorous treatment of cultural tropes and damaging stereotypes.
We can spend hours discussing the disrespectful ways the exotic locale of Abu Dhabi was portrayed for the purpose of exaggerating controversial societal norms, that validate the ignorance of snobbish westerners, but in this case, references to the second film is for raising the alarm on Samantha’s shameful story arc.
More than a decade after the lackluster premiere in 2010, I can acknowledge the main reasons why it was unforgivable to demonize and cruelly ridicule Samantha’s disruptive challenges with the dreaded onset of menopause, that already suffers the stigma of being the warning shot of a woman’s rapid depreciation.
It’s hard to stomach the unsightly scenes prominently depicting Kim Cattrall’s enviable interpretation of the horrid writing, that forces Samantha to be unfairly reduced to a sweaty puddle of menopausal messiness, by the ire of so-called confidantes, who are incidentally not that much younger than the friend, who deserved their compassion and support, as opposed to chilly dismissiveness.
Everyone was united in the conclusion that Sex and the City needed to bow out and retain its remaining dignity and nostalgic grace after the disastrous and unnecessary sequel.
That seemed to be the plan, until rumors began to swirl about the strong possibility of a third film. The chatter picked up steam in 2019 with lots of fanfare from starved fans, who agreed that enough time had passed since the noted misstep from a decade ago.
Actresses Sarah Jessica Parker,(Carrie) Kristin Davis (Charlotte) and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda) were all on board, but when it came to Kim Cattrall, her unwavering defiance against resuming the legendary role of Samantha was the shocking revelation that got even more scandalous with her public condemnation of one of her co-stars.
As it turns out, both Parker and Cattrall never shared the charmed closeness that defined the popularity of their characters, which is a testament to the craft of acting, and the actors who can remarkably turn it off and on for the cameras.
Cattrall didn’t hold back the authenticity of her feelings, when providing the explanation for why she was opting not to participate in Sex and the City 3:
“Never. It’s a no from me.” “You learn lessons in life and my lesson is to do work with good people and try and make it fun.”
A year before, the real-life tensions and bad blood between Cattrall and Parker played out publicly, shortly after the tragic death of Cattrall’s brother, when a a blast from the past left a heartfelt message on the Instagram page of the grieving actress, who fired back, accusing Parker of being disingenuous.
“I don’t need your love or support at this tragic time @sarahjessicaparker.”
Cattrall took it even further with zero fucks to give:
Your continuous reaching out is a painful reminder of how cruel you really were then and now.”
“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.”
For her part, Parker keeps insisting that she has no idea how her relationship with Cattrall became so contentious, and clearly out of protectiveness for the brand that designed her enviable trajectory, the part-time show designer, handles the questions about the ongoing controversy with emphatic good wishes to her public enemy.
Cattrall hasn’t gone into detailed accounts of what led to her longstanding strife with her co-stars, and the deepening resentment towards Parker, but there have been theories confirming the usual gripes that manifest, at the location of high stakes productions, where main players are privy to the uneven distribution of compensatory rewards.
Either way, it’s highly unlikely that both Cattrall, 64, and Parker, 55, who are about nine years apart, will ever mend the shattered bonds that may not have been tangible enough to survive the extended breakdown of communications.
In the meantime, HBO Max recently confirmed an upcoming the revival of Sex and the City with 10 episodes dedicated to the storied updates of Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda without Samantha, titled: And Just Like that.
Kim Cattrall isn’t budging from her decision to permanently detach from the character that made her famous, which in honestly can’t be held against her, when you consider how much time she dedicated to the vivaciousness of Samantha Jones, and why it’s also acceptable to embrace the freedom of reinvention.
And to be fair, the Sex and the City resurrection doesn’t deserve the return of its most recognizable player. The doomed second film mistreated Samantha’s middle-age dilemma, by diminishing a relatable struggle to the annoying whininess of an over-wrought sufferer.
However, Samantha Jones has earned the royal sendoff that can only be manifested through the inevitable broken ties of once-durable friendships, a possibility that happens in real-life to the best of us.
It’s totally probable that Samantha breaks away from the trusted trio, who are taking too long to catch up to her armor of maturity, that takes hold, when outgrowing those around you is the convenient incentive to put yourself first.
It would be pathetic for the writers of the new series to blame the noticeable absence of a key member of the squad on a mandated relocation to an exotic locale, especially since it still leaves the door open for what will never transpire.
As much as we try to prevent it, friendships do end, and it doesn’t have to involve theatrics that breed never-ending hatred and bitterness.
It can really be the simple and effective act of moving on from what’s no longer applicable for the future, especially when getting stuck in the rut of a cycle, prevents the gradual separation that should be refreshingly mutual and indicative of what it means to evolve.
Some of us are learning that lesson and maybe Samantha Jones will be the teachable moment for the remaining girls in the City.