When Carrie Bradshaw first introduces us to Samantha Jones, it’s as “a New York inspiration.” Carrie describes her as assured to the level of “self-delusion,” and but all through “Sex and the City,” it’s very uncommon to see Samantha fail to get what she needs as soon as she decides it’s value spending her treasured power. Whereas Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) overthinks her means in and out of relationships, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) negotiates with herself and her companions, and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) frets about marriage and propriety, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is generally simply sleeping round and having a nice time doing it. That specific, shame-free sexuality is way extra routine for ladies characters as we speak than it was in 1998, when Samantha’s refusal to censor or restrain herself when it got here to intercourse was a deliberate shock to TV’s system — and for “Sex and the City,” a essential cornerstone to the sequence’ success.
It wasn’t a shock when HBO Max introduced that it’s going to produce a “Sex and the City” revival (“And Simply Like That”) given the present’s nostalgic forex and the streamer’s dedication to develop its subscriber base. And for these of us who’ve paid extra consideration to celeb gossip over the years than might be advisable, neither was the undeniable fact that it’ll apparently be transferring ahead with out Cattrall and Samantha each. Cattrall has been very open over the years about feeling each far faraway from the present and pissed off with the place it took her character. When a third “Sex and the City” film seemed like a risk, as an illustration, she was clear that she wished nothing to do with it at the same time as her costars stated the reverse. With that in thoughts, the most staggering growth for this revival could be Cattrall agreeing to be in it in any respect.
So right here we’re, ready for a new chapter in the lives of Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte some 23 years after Samantha first burst onto our screens to inform her buddies to “simply say ‘screw it’ and have intercourse like a man” together with her exaggerated, silken drawl. This time, the remaining girls of “Sex and the City” can be of their fifties, presumably nonetheless married (although who is aware of!) and with children now grown sufficient to, inevitably, make their very own TikToks. However all we all know for positive about the revival is that a) it’s occurring and b) it’s occurring with out Samantha. There are a million methods the new sequence might cope with her absence, and I genuinely look ahead to seeing no matter they provide you with. Nonetheless: I can’t assist however surprise if the lack of Samantha, the solely genuinely intercourse constructive character “Sex and the City” ever included on a common foundation, can be an insurmountable impediment to recapturing what made the unique present work.
Whereas “Sex and the City” was on the air, and ever since, Samantha’s explicit model of unabashed sexuality — and power behavior of cracking intercourse jokes as tacky as they have been specific — turned one thing of a punchline in and of itself. Take Samantha’s embarrassing HIV check appointment, when Samantha solutions every more and more hyperbolic query about her sexual historical past with a nonchalant “sure” that finally stuns the nurse into silence. Or, extra-textually, the 2004 “Saturday Night time Dwell” sketch that aired shortly earlier than the sequence finale, during which Christina Aguilera debuted a spot-on Samantha impression that devolved into horrible puns and the uninspired reveal that “I’m a dude.” (Get it? As a result of she dates like one and has a deep-ish voice? Haha.) However on the present itself, Samantha’s defiantly open, down for something intercourse life supplies a mandatory counterbalance to the different three girls who’re far more uptight than they usually care to confess.
Miranda, the group’s resident type-A buzzkill, works onerous for her carefree moments and is susceptible to projecting her personal insecurities onto her buddies after they dare go the place she gained’t. Proudly prim Charlotte spends each brunch virtually actually clutching her pearls, and Carrie, a girl whose whole profession hinges on writing about intercourse, nonetheless approaches the topic with a metaphorical tissue, as if afraid to get her personal palms too soiled. Any man who expresses an curiosity in the most vanilla of kinks is rapidly labeled an insatiable freak — even, or perhaps particularly, when Samantha speaks up in his protection, having loved the similar expertise herself.
Actually, becoming a member of collectively in disdain for Samantha’s newest exploits is a time-honored custom for the different three “Sex and the City” women, whether or not Samantha is casually sleeping with a dildo mannequin she considers a celeb or giving a monogamous relationship with a girl a actual shot. (There’s a complete different essay in how disappointingly inflexible “Sex and the City” was relating to sexuality, however suffice it to say: anybody who didn’t establish as strictly homosexual or straight was, apparently, kidding themselves.) Simply as a lot as they have been united of their singledom, Miranda, Charlotte and Carrie have been united of their righteous judgment of different folks’s intercourse lives. Having Samantha round may’ve been helpful for comedian aid, and there’s little doubt that she had her personal justifiable share of cringey storylines alongside the means. However her steadfast assist of her buddies’ sexual escapades — the extra exaggerated, the higher — was additionally very important to the particularly, groundbreakingly attractive heartbeat of the present. With out her, “Sex and the City” simply gained’t have the pulse of enthusiastic sexual power that made for a few of its finest moments.
If Cattrall stays out of the image, as appears doubtless, “And Simply Like That” must do extra than simply meet up with Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte in an effort to recapture the sequence’ unique spark. It is going to both need to bear a shift in narrative focus, as is maybe inevitable given the characters’ advancing age and extra settled lives, or exchange Samantha’s singular voice in a means that feels genuine. Possibly this is available in the type of a new character — ideally one in her sixties, as Cattrall is and Samantha could be — or else certainly one of the remaining girls evolving into extra progressive views (which, frankly, would really feel extra unrealistic than Samantha’s sudden absence). It doesn’t matter what, although, the worst factor the revival might do could be to dismiss Samantha like certainly one of the present’s numerous exes and transfer on with out acknowledging why she was so vital in the first place. Carrie Bradshaw could have made a title for herself by saying she “is aware of good intercourse,” but it surely was Samantha Jones whose raison d’être was having it.