Here’s where I issue a caveat/humble brag: I attended the splashy premiere in New York – complete with an after-party in the space that used to be Barneys (#RIP) – and it pagne and a very receptive audience.
But while I acknowledge your criticisms and share your outrage at Carrie for using her husband’s death as a photo-op, I would remind you of one thing: “Sex and the City” was never exactly subtle
The characters have always been ridiculous! Charlotte was always a retrograde priss, Carrie has always been slow to adapt new forms of communication despite being a professional communicator – remember how she took years to buy a cellphone and was mystified by EMAIL? None of this is new. I swear!
What is new is all the death and the specter of mortality that hangs over the first batch of episodes. It’s not just Big’s fatal spin on the Peloton – can I start using “taking your 1,000th ride” as a euphemism for death? – but also the many references to the “horror show” of the pandemic. (Speaking of which, given Cynthia Nixon’s race for governor, I really hope they find a way to make some Cuomo jokes.) Garson’s lovely performance, particularly his scenes at Big’s funeral, give the show a poignance I don’t think it’s ever had before.
“Sex and the City” was always at its best when it balanced the outrageous with the sincere. There’s plenty of the usual decadence: Carrie and co. still show up at the most mundane gatherings dressed like absolute lunatics, but they’re all dealing with very recognizable issues that come with middle age, long-term marriages and parenthood. I felt like these episodes were anchored by something real. This show is ultimately about friendship, not just the bond between Carrie, Miranda and [sighs] Charlotte, but the relationship between the audience and these characters. I’ve followed them for 23 years. I’m not about to give up now!
McNamara: Well, now you are making me feel like a complete Grinch, though I don’t think “improvement on the movies” should be the bar for any series, much less such an influential one. (I simply choose to pretend the movies never happened, which is my right.) I hear you on all the original character flaws, and perhaps I am remembering the original through a haze of legacy – that it was such a significant show does not mean it was episodically significant. But I also felt like I was being pelted with “We’re older now,” “Who knows what to say anymore,” “There are so many podcasts” in a way that was neither smart nor funny. And the fact that it is on HBO Max, rather than HBO, does make me wonder if the standard for one is a bit different than for the other.
As for the newbies, Sara Ramirez is a delight as Che Diaz, Carrie’s podcast producer/co-host – I am already longing for a spinoff about Che. Ramirez always does a lot with a little, and Che seems quite capable of whipping Carrie, Miranda and maybe even Charlotte into shape. Charlotte’s new friend Lisa (Nicole Ari Parker) seems promising, even if she is referred to at one point as “the Black Charlotte,” something I think we all know could never exist. And I’m hoping Miranda’s professor Nya (Karen Pittman) will give Miranda some space to shine as something other than Carrie’s sounding board.
And for all its homogeneous limitations, “Sex and the City” shouldn’t have to apologize for existing – without it, there would DateHookUp be no “Sex Lives of College [Girls],” another (far better) HBO Max series, or Amazon’s wonderful “Harlem,” just to name two of the most recent female-centric, sex-positive comedies
But even as I write this, I am worried that each of the original gals is being teamed up with a younger, more “diverse” friend for educational purposes.