When I first started watching “Sex and the City,” I saw myself in Carrie Bradshaw. I am a hopeless romantic, a writer, a believer in the good of people — and before getting married, someone who always was in a relationship just like Carrie.
There are a few things that differ between Carrie and me though — our friend circle and our skin color. And, what I don’t want to see in HBO’s upcoming reboot of Sex and the City is “diversity for diversity’s sake.” Did anyone see “Sex and the City 2,” the movie? Remember when they went to Abu Dhabi and laid bare all of their dirty (white privileged) laundry?
We watch (or at least I do) “Sex and the City” for the raunchiness, the laughs, for the hope that love will prevail and so will happiness, but let’s not forget that there was a crucial element missing in the original cast: diversity. For the new version, the three women (down from four, minus Samantha) will need to open their eyes to what it means to be a person of color living in New York City, of all places, and open their eyes to race, class, and sexuality. The writers and producers of the SATC reboot need to play their cards right — especially right now, when racial tensions are high in this country, and we are pushing for progress and equity. Every voice matters, including those in the writer’s room.
Just as the girls (Charlotte, Carrie, and Miranda) are entering a new chapter in their lives in New York City, as a nation we’ll be just coming off of President Joe Biden’s first six months as our president. And I can’t help but wonder how the writers will add a few new guests at the cafeteria table.
Give us another Louise, Carrie’s assistant played by Jennifer Hudson, but let the role make sense. Give the diverse women (or men) who join the cast meaning, purpose, and a realistic (not generic, or stereotypical) storyline. Bring them to the lunch table every single day and let their words add value so that we, the viewers, can wholly connect with them. The writers and the producers need to step outside of the comfort zone which exists for white privileged women who date rich, white privileged men.
We’ve heard many things about what the diversity makeup might be in the reboot, but we won’t truly know until the characters appear on the screen this fall. We have months to speculate what will happen. We can’t have the sole Asian baby (Charlotte’s daughter) be the tokenized person of color. We need to see the interracial relationships which exist within New York City. We need to see and understand the LGBTQ+ community for who we are — not the stereotypical flamboyant gay man serving as the sole representative of communities that are so much more nuanced and diverse than that.
The three remaining white women, the ladies who lunch, are privileged women who need an awakening of their own. They do not live in a bubble, especially as New York City residents. The writers will need to get some courage and address the elephant in the room.
What we can speculate, as reported in Elle, is this: a source close to the production says that there will be two new characters, a “strong, powerful African-American woman” and the other “from an Asian background.” What does that even mean? From an “Asian background” — from Asia? I have so many questions about how the reboot will take on some of the most pressing issues of our time, particularly in regard to diversity.
For years, SATC got it wrong. The “it” being how to authentically portray diversity and represent people who look different than Miranda, Carrie, and Charlotte. One truth, as Vox shares, is that “The questions and challenges that Hollywood needs help with are not one size fits all.”
The writers have a responsibility in this moment to educate themselves, and bring to the screen the diversity America needs to see. Representation matters, and we know this. Take notes from Shonda Rhimes or watch a few of Ava DuVernay’s movies; get some perspective, and let’s not have a repeat of “Sex and the City 2,” a film that missed the mark on diversity, to put it mildly.
Most of all, we can all learn from one another, and it starts with educating — even if it’s through the lens of the new “Sex and the City.” I’ll be watching.