‘Sex and the City’ Had a Massive Diversity Problem — Can a Reboot Fix It?
There was a time when Sex and the City was one of the biggest television shows on the air. Fans flocked to the sexy exploration of four young female friends trying to make their way in the Big Apple, and the series was at once an escapist fantasy as well as a groundbreaking portrayal of real-life questions of sexuality and relationships.
While the major development of the series was definitely protagonist Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) and her love triangle, the show also spent some meaningful time on the friendship between the four main characters, and it was that dynamic that helped propel the show through six seasons and a pair of movies.
Now that it looks like the series may be picked up for a reboot, fans are wondering how much of the original magic can be recaptured. There’s also some serious hope that a contemporary version would fix the show’s glaring diversity problem.
‘Sex and the City’ premiered in 1998
The Sex and the City project began in 1998 when the first episode premiered on HBO.
Column writer and shoe lover Carrie Bradshaw (Parker) was the center of the story, and her friendship with Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) became an iconic part of pop culture. Each woman represented a different strain of personality, but all captured the essence of empowerment and independence that ran through the series as a whole.
The long-running influence of the show was evident when it was able to generate buzz for a movie sequel that took place four years after the series concluded. The 2008 film picked up where the series had left off and helped tie up some loose ends and answer burning questions the audience had about where the characters ended up.
While the reviews were lukewarm, a second film came out in 2010. That one, however, left audiences less than impressed and seemed to fall flat among critics and viewers alike.
‘Sex and the City’ had a diversity problem
While the original series still enjoys a dedicated fan base, the passing of time has opened up criticism of the show that can no longer be ignored. The lack of diversity in mainstream Hollywood has been an increasingly important point of discussion. Plenty of stars are taking a stand and insisting that projects have more representation both on the screen and behind the scenes. The original Sex and the City stand as a clear example of just what a lack of diversity looks like on the set.
The show is set in New York City, one of the most racially and economically diverse cities in the world. Viewers of Sex and the City would never know it, however, and even one of the show’s own cast members admits that it’s a glaring flaw.
As USA Today reports, Cynthia Nixon — who played Miranda — opened up about what she wished the show had done differently: “Certainly the lack of racial and ethnic diversity is a big factor but also the lack of any characters who aren’t wealthy. Miranda was married to the one working-class person we ever saw on the show.”
Would a reboot fix the diversity problem?
Television reboots are popular right now, and it has been rumored that Sex and the City may be next up for the treatment. The nostalgia for the show is certainly there, but not everyone is convinced that bringing the series back is a good idea.
With the four leading ladies and their significant others portrayed by white actors, there’s little room for diversity aside from side actors like Charlotte’s adopted daughter. Or how the first movie included a Black character (Jennifer Hudson) as Carrie’s assistant.
If the show did return, it’s clear that some major changes would have to be made. For one thing, Kim Cattrall (who played Samantha) has made it clear she isn’t interested in returning. Can she be replaced by a Person of Color? Sex and the City’s diversity problem is so big that it’ll take more than an occasional love interest or friend — diversity and inclusion will have to be a conscious choice by the creative team.
If the show would have to re-cast major roles anyway, it seems like there is an opportunity to address some of the diversity issues in a big way. Perhaps a reboot could portray a New York City that’s much more representative of the real world and all the complexities of the people who live there.