Candace and Carrie Can’t Help But Wonder: Is There Still Sex in the City?
Candace stars off-Broadway and Carrie premieres on HBO Max.
Candace Bushnell is Carrie Bradshaw.
Carrie Bradshaw is Candace Bushnell.
And they are both back — but on their terms.
After her divorce in 2012 and the biggest flop of her career in 2015 (the novel Killing Monica — it bombed so hard that the publisher wanted their money back), Candace Bushnell did the unthinkable — she left New York City. She moved to Sag Harbor to reassess the next phase of her life.
But now she’s back and ready to dish. Her new off-Broadway one-woman show, Is There Still Sex in the City?, opened last night at the Daryl Roth Theatre. In it, she spends ninety nimble minutes running (in heels from her personal closet) through the decades of her life — from her upbringing in the 60s, through finding herself in the 80s, writing the hit column that became Sex and the City in the 90s, marrying Mr. Bigger and reaching the pinnacle of her career in the 00s, and then being forced to reflect on it all as she approached her sixth decade.
Coincidence or not, we also get to say hello to our old friend Carrie Bradshaw as she returns in the new HBO Max series And Just Like That…, which premieres tomorrow.
Although Candace makes it clear in her show that Carrie is her invented alter-ego and not her, you can’t help but notice the parallels in their lives. They broke new ground in the 90s, but as with so many groundbreakers — if you don’t keep up with the trends you’ve started, you get left behind. How will they adapt to 2021?
For starters, we know both women as columnists (primarily Carrie of course, modeled after Candace’s pre-book success) — but newspaper circulation has plummeted since the 90s from 60 million newspapers in circulation in 1990 to less than 25 million last year. Newspapers are not as trendy as they once were — so both ladies need a new spin on their careers. Candace went off-Broadway and there is no doubt Carrie will end up podcasting.
And the conversations they had are not as shocking as they once had been. Candace rode the wave of articles like “Meet the Guys Who Bed Models!” and Carrie asked questions like, “Are we faking more than orgasms?”
In a world of Tinder and Only Fans, these things are tame.
Obviously there’s still sex in the city. There’s still plenty of sex to be had for ladies of all ages in the lipstick jungle of Manhattan.
But is there still Sex and the City? Is there still a place in our modern world for Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda? What about Candace?
Candace revisits the joys of Sex and the City. She gushes over Calvin Klein models, tells us the truth about the real Mr. Big, and compares her shoe closet to Carrie’s. It’s nice to see her again. She was inescapable at the height of SATC and although she’s been chugging along writing novel after novel — she is up to 10 now — she’s spent a lot of that time under the radar. Not only is it a pleasure to have her back in the spotlight, it’s a real joy to see women her age take center stage — in this case, literally. There’s plenty of media to be consumed about love and lust in your 20s (there’s a whole subdivision of that work that takes places in New York City — thank Candace later), but there are significantly less shows about women later in their life. And if there are, they’re not nearly as candid and open as Candace’s monologue. It’s a real treat. Grab a cosmo at the downstairs bar and enjoy your evening with an old friend.
But while much of Bushnell’s monologue reflects on the past, And Just Like That… focuses on the future.
Carrie and her gal-pals seem to be thinking more about bringing SATC into the modern day. They wouldn’t dare end the story with the shameful Sex and the City 2…
They’ve left behind the things that didn’t age well — like the overwhelming whiteness of the original run or some boundary pushers that should stay twenty years in the past (the “chicks with d*cks” episode comes to mind).
And we all know that Kim Cattrall’s Samantha won’t be back either. Her absence opens up a pathway for four new ladies of color who will take the torch on love and life in the Big Apple.
Sex and the City season is here and it’s giving us all of the things we love from our favorite familiar properties: all of the things we hold dear from the original incarnation like boozy brunches and spontaneous shopping, while giving us a fresh twist that makes it it’s own thing.
It’s nice to see all of these ladies again. These reunions remind me of a particular Carrie Bradshaw quote about old friends:
“After all, seasons change, so do cities; people come into your life and people go. But it’s comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart.”
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