Any devoted, line-repeating Sex and the City fan is aware of there are a minimum of two Intercourse and the Metropolis’s; the primary seasons wherein Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha exist in a reasonably un-glossy New York, which have an echo of the pop-friskiness of Desperately Looking for Susan. Bathed in international recognition, the present thereafter remodeled right into a high-gloss, serious-fashion fairytale of princesses rejecting frogs and discovering princes. Intercourse and the Metropolis was at all times a pleasure to observe, however its later seasons have been a placing departure from its preliminary sharp celebration and interrogation of sexual freedom and being single, emphasis on the “being.”
Flip in your TV and the episodes are on repeat someplace. These of us who liked it and held viewing events the primary time round can and do watch it over and over. What number of instances have I seen Carrie ship that vase of carnations flying after Berger’s Submit-it: “I’m Sorry I Can’t Don’t Hate Me—”? Oh reader, too many instances.
The films: properly sure, they’re not good, notably the ghastly second one. However like a nasty relation, they’re borne, not utterly disowned. Point out them, and followers look as stricken because the gang did when Carrie momentarily turned “vogue roadkill.” (However look, she’s up and smiling once more, with Heidi Klum!)
This week, HBO premieres And Just Like That, which can present us the place “the women” are in the present day, minus Samantha because Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker famously fell out. Good or horrible, the collection will be part of the canon, and its followers will welcome it. And right here too is Candace Bushnell, from whose typewriter Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte initially sprang forth with a stage present known as Is There Still Sex in the City?
Nevertheless, as a substitute of a bejeweled Manolo, what this present reminds you, certainly beats you over your head with bluntly and depressingly, is that all the pieces is advertising and marketing now. The stage present is timed to perfection, opening on the Daryl Roth Theatre (to February 6), the identical week because the TV present. When you step contained in the theater, there’s a bar arrange the place you’ll be able to choose up your Cosmo. After the present, you’ll be able to drink extra of them downstairs.
There on the stage is a snazzy New York condo, garments rails, Martini glasses, and all. And pounding merrily from the sound system, pre-Bushnell’s look, is a chart-topping megamix of feminine empowerment anthems just like the Spice Ladies’ “Wannabe.” The theme is each ladies’ evening out, and shameless model extension. The pre-show ambiance has all of the expectant heat of an all-ages fan conference. Round me, everybody appeared so excited to be there. Previous buddies have been catching up, simply as in a number of days we’ll meet up with Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte (and the way a lot I need to add Samantha there too).
That is the place the bizarre disconnect units in, as a result of Candace Bushnell wrote the ebook (spawned from newspaper columns) the TV present was based mostly on, however she didn’t write the TV present that everybody is aware of and loves. And this stage present isn’t about whether or not there may be nonetheless intercourse within the metropolis, and it isn’t actually about Intercourse and the Metropolis; the present, if it poses any query, is about whether or not there may be nonetheless intercourse should you’re over 60, as Bushnell is.
And whereas there may be the odd clip from the TV present, that is actually a one-woman present about Candace Bushnell, and her life, and Intercourse and the Metropolis’s half in her monumental publishing success—which, she goes to nice pains to level out, was about extra than simply Intercourse and the Metropolis. She even has slides of New York Occasions bestseller lists to indicate us the triumphs of Lipstick Jungle and the remainder.
The issue, and it isn’t straightforward or nice for a Intercourse and the Metropolis fan to sort this, is that Bushnell is just not an important storyteller on stage. That is extra a pastel-colored TED discuss than a one-woman present, and it’s tonally fairly flat and scattered. The set is a Intercourse and the Metropolis-styled glamorous dream, and she or he seems superb, nevertheless it appears like Intercourse and the Metropolis-lite; any deep story should have a glib zinger as a bookend.
It’s not that the tales are boring, however they’re by rote. We hear of how “Candi” turned Candace; how the smalltown lady turned a fixture on the scene, then a fixture writing concerning the scene. Bushnell is most attention-grabbing speaking a few New York life that’s most recognizable, as a younger author making an attempt to make it, mining her buddies’ tales—how Intercourse and the Metropolis got here to be constructed—regardless of their in-vain pleas for discretion. Intercourse and the Metropolis was a column within the New York Observer, after which, to her nice pleasure, a TV present.
She does element her private life, although she doesn’t speak about Ron Galotti, the real-life Mr. Huge, intimately. She doesn’t speak about her ex-husband Charles Askegard, although she references that marriage and the shock of the return to single life following its finish. And there may be the blurred line, too unexamined, between Candace Bushnell and Carrie Bradshaw.
In the present day, Bushnell says, she stays single (the true Mr. Huge and never Huge each lengthy gone), has moved out to Lengthy Island, and lives round nature alongside the real-life Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha, the place they continue to be in a continuing sport of phone-tag, detailing their sexual and romantic misadventures. She loves her life, she insists.
This stage present is surprisingly nullifying for such a colourful, rollercoaster of a life. You’ll study not a lot about Candace Bushnell and Intercourse and the Metropolis that you just can’t already Google—though her tales of what it was like on the set of the TV present within the early days are thrilling moments of the fairytale coming true proper earlier than her eyes. In case you are a fan, you received’t really feel prefer it’s a waste of a night, you could simply really feel underwhelmed, just like the Cosmo wasn’t as ice-chilled as you want to, or the champagne cocktail a bit flat.
“The viewers the evening this critic went to see the stage present was audibly happiest when the theme tune to the TV present struck up, or a well-recognized clip performed.”
It reminds you that Intercourse and the Metropolis was a fiction made by TV writers. We weren’t watching Candace Bushnell. And Candace Bushnell can’t be anticipated to be the TV present she impressed. Additionally: Most writers don’t dwell like Carrie Bradshaw or Candace Bushnell, and most writers preserve their knowledge for the web page moderately than performing it on stage for good purpose.
The viewers the evening this critic went to see the stage present was audibly happiest when the theme tune to the TV present struck up, or a well-recognized clip performed. Take a look at me, Candace Bushnell is saying, when the viewers needs to have a look at the TV offshoot of the factor she created. Creativity could be merciless, even when the tens of millions within the financial institution present a comforting cushion.
What the stage present additionally makes tantalizingly clear is that the true lifetime of Candace Bushnell and her different single buddies is infinitely extra intriguing than the married-off protagonists of Intercourse and the Metropolis. The dreary, Victorian conventions of the closing episodes of the unique TV present—marry them off, make them consider within the savior side of affection!—planed off a lived actuality that will have been far tougher, and rewarding, to dramatize than the shiny fairytale we ended up cherishing.
None of those cavils actually matter, given the revivified Intercourse and the Metropolis juggernaut is upon us. Right here comes And Simply Like That, simply after this opening evening. Right here come the wall-to-wall articles about whether or not Intercourse and the Metropolis nonetheless holds up. And listed here are the followers, for certain studying each phrase of the media frenzy, but additionally simply delighting in being amongst outdated buddies once more.