With Sex and the City celebrating the 20th anniversary of its premiere and almost every other old TV show getting a reboot, I couldn’t help but wonder: What would the story lines be if SATC returned in 2018? To find out, I canvassed show writers Jenny Bicks, Cindy Chupack, Amy B. Harris, Julie Rottenberg, and Elisa Zuritsky — all featured in my new cultural history of the show, Sex and the City and Us.
They had answers at the ready. They always drew from their own lives during the show’s original run. “What we did so well, if I can be so bold, was talk about things that you don’t want to say out loud but are actually going on in your life,” Harris says. “So now it’s, what your marriage looks like, what raising kids looks like. Every relationship has endless story to tell.” In the years since the Sex and the City finale, Rottenberg says, the writers still constantly emailed each other sharing their various mortifications, and the subject line is often: “If only we still had a show …” Here, they imagine what six episodes in a 2018 season might look like.
Charlotte’s little girl is constantly rubbing up against things in public, having discovered masturbation without knowing it; Charlotte doesn’t want to stifle her sexuality, but she can’t let this go on. This prompts a classic brunch debate: Samantha argues that it’s great, while Miranda advocates allowing it only in private. This prompts all of the women (except Samantha, of course) to wonder what they would have been like if allowed to freely explore their sexuality from a young age.
They all also check out a trendy yoga-with-goats class. Carrie tries steaming her vagina for a magazine story and is dismayed to find that she loves it, despite her conviction that vaginas are perfectly fine in their natural state.
Carrie can’t help but wonder: Are we nothing more than our animal instincts?
“Text and Subtext”
The women are having a harder time than ever finding time to get together for their catch-up brunches, going through dozens of text rounds before they find a time that works for all of them. In the chaos, Charlotte accidentally sends the girls a dick pic of Harry — who, it turns out, is packing.
When they finally get together, Carrie sparks tension by demanding they ban phones during brunch. Everyone’s always got a great-sounding excuse — they’re waiting for a text from work, the babysitter, the contractor — but she wants to maintain their bond like they did in the old days, connecting in person and discussing their lives without distractions. The experiment goes well at first — they’re actually able to get into meatier topics of conversation without the distraction of technology, until Miranda confesses she’s having withdrawal symptoms, can’t go another minute without checking her phone, and then confesses she’s addicted to technology and needs help. The women decide to go on a group tech cleanse the way they used to do juice cleanses.
Carrie can’t help but wonder: Are cell phones making us all dicks?
Miranda decides to run for governor, prompting her and Steve to once again evaluate their income imbalance. They’d long ago gotten used to Miranda as the breadwinner, but Steve will now have to step up if they’re going to maintain their lifestyle while she campaigns. Yet he’ll also find himself in the strange position of being a political spouse.
Samantha tries a vampire facial, which requires a blood test beforehand. Through the process, she finds that she has the breast-cancer gene, which can also cause ovarian cancer. She ponders having her ovaries removed, since she’s not planning to use them anyway, but the decision is surprisingly agonizing.
Carrie can’t help but wonder: What really makes us women? Or makes men men?
“Stranger Than Fiction”
Carrie continues her writing career by venturing into fiction — though, it’s still loosely based on her own reality, prompting everyone in her life to speculate about who is whom and what she meant with her characterizations. Charlotte is nervous starting a new, higher-powered job as a museum director and her daughter gives her a good-luck fairy, Rose, for her first day. When Charlotte has a great first day, she asks her daughter to make sure Rose is with her for Day Two, but her daughter tells her Rose has gone to Canada. Despite Charlotte’s good-natured requests — “Can’t she fly back? Mommy needs her” — her daughter maintains Rose is out of the country, prompting a surprising outburst from Charlotte that reveals her insecurities. When the Goldenblatts’ mezuzah also falls off their front door, Charlotte is convinced they’re cursed. Meanwhile, Samantha books a session with a sexy shaman and drags Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte to an ayahuasca retreat, where they’re all shaken by their own visions.
Carrie can’t help but wonder: What is real, what is faith, and do we all need something to believe in?
Miranda arrives late to brunch because one of her favorite male colleagues was just fired, following #MeToo accusations. She’s conflicted because, despite her feminist convictions, she loved this guy and isn’t sure the accusations warranted his dismissal. Samantha says that she, too, is being sued by a former assistant for sexual harassment, which she doesn’t feel is warranted. Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda share their #MeToo stories, and Miranda is particularly horrified to recall several experiences she had as a teenager — the same age her son, Brady, is now. Miranda reconsiders how she’s raising her own son; when he tells her he’s taking a girl on a date, she insists on a sit-down with the two of them, during which she goes embarrassingly overboard and scares them out of their date.
Carrie can’t help but wonder: How do we go from #MeToo to no one ever?
“The Parenting Trap”
Charlotte and Miranda have found that making mom friendships is at least as hard as dating. In fact, it’s harder — the kids have to get along, you have to get along with the other mom, and husbands throw another variable into the mix. This discussion prompts Charlotte and Miranda to reexamine their own friendship: Why aren’t they mom friends?
When they try hanging out without Carrie and Samantha, they find themselves judging each other’s parenting styles, which, surprisingly, go against type. Charlotte has learned to be more laid-back with her children, while Miranda micromanages hers. Samantha, fed up with all this talk of kids and marriage, decides to get herself some new friends. She forms a foursome with three other “Samanthas” — all older women who are still single and as into partying as ever — and finds that she’s actually the “Charlotte” of the group.
Carrie takes the new Second Avenue subway just to see what all the fuss is about. She finds herself amazed and moved at how clean and beautiful it is, and at how New York City could come through on this project that had been in the works for so many years.
Carrie can’t help but wonder: Are any of us past the point of changing our ways? Or is there always room for a new route somewhere unexpected?
*A version of this article appears in the June 11, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!