By Dorothy Thompson.
Historically the date 6 June has bought us many special and memorable events. June 6 started bright and early for many young men on the beaches of Normandy when Operation Overlord (D-Day) began during World War II, a battle that changed the course of history.
Henry Morgan — you remember him, (Col Sherman Potter in MASH) scandalise the nation by being the first actor to take his shirt off on television. While Bill Haley & Comets’ were “Rocking Round-The-Clock” with their number one hit, the poor old Rolling Stones “couldn’t get no satisfaction”. In 1971 Ed Sullivan called it a day when he broadcast his last show after 1068 programmes, and 23 years solid on CBS.
Yet a milestone of a very different nature burst forth onto our screens 20 years ago on this famous date. When a tutu-clad Carrie Bradshaw stumbled into our lives on June 6, 1998, life was never to be the same again. Sex and the City ushered in a new era of television shows that took a frank approach to sex and relationships, while also deftly capturing the more elusive love of a place – namely, New York City, with its infuriatingly catchy theme tune and that truly hideous tutu in the opening credits Sex and the City was to redefine the way that we looked at love, life and sexual politics.
At the time, it was seen as revolutionary – four women talking openly about their love (and sex) lives with a lot of NSFW (Not Safe For Work. Used to describe content generally inappropriate for the typical workplace) scenes shown on screen. Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha became as real as our own friends, from their first appearance on 6 June 1998 to the final episode (countless dates, several husbands and a baby or two later) in 2004.
Its stars – Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall – are now household names, and in a real-life plot twist one of them could even now become governor of New York, the city where the show was set.
A lot has changed since the show, based on the book by Candace Bushell, first aired in 1998, with some of the lines in the show now seeming hugely outdated. But there’s still a lot of love for Sex and the City.
There were lots of things that were memorable about what really was an ironically tacky programme. The outfits that the girls wore almost a character in there own right.
The fashions may have changed since we saw the fabulous foursome hit the screens but we managed to dig out this picture from the Premier in New York of the very first episode.
Many costume designers made their mark; Patricia Field created many of the shows classic looks including the aforesaid TUTU which teams the fur coat with heels some wag went on to describe it as “an ensemble which cultural resonance”
Vivienne Westwood had her go designing Kerry’s wedding dress which she almost but not quite married Mr Big wearing its reached iconic status and is displayed in the store as part of its 10th anniversary collection.
Carrie’s obsession with footwear was such that Mr Big, played by Chris Noth, who proposed not with a ring but a shoe.
Without question it was the good the bad and the downright ugly that made its mark on Sex on the City.
Hallmark and revolutionary productions have many different effects I’m pretty sure that without Sex and the City we may never have seen several other spin-off shows that were inspired by its hit states
US sitcom Girlfriends was no doubt part of its progeny. Girlfriends was centered on a group of four women forging friendship and careers – there are definite similarities, but while SATC was accused of being too white, the four leads in Girlfriends were all African-American.
Lena Dunham’s Girls centered on a group of twenty-something women in New York finding their way through work and relationships, so there were inevitable comparisons. Dunham said it was “bridging a gap” between the teens in Gossip Girl and the 30-somethings in SATC – with the pilot intentionally featured a Sex and the City joke to make it clear that the girls were inspired by Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.
And of course, there was The Carrie Diaries, the 2013 series showing Carrie’s life in the 1980s.
In what was a simpler world; today possibly Sex and the City would never seen it even to a pilot, yet back then it was pretty racy stuff.
Sex and the City fans are fierce and they’re not going anywhere. When the series ended in February 2014, thousands threw farewell parties dressed up as their favourite characters and drank a toast (with a Cosmopolitan or two, of course).
When the first spin-off film premiered back in 2008, hundreds queued from the early hours to greet the Sex and the City stars in London’s Leicester Square.
Many fans asked the stars to sign bags and shoe boxes.
One said at screening that she was a big fan “because you can relate to it”, adding: “It’s my Bible, we’ve all gone through the same problems the girls have. They all inspire me. We’re not going to be satisfied with just one film.” And sure enough, the inevitable sequel followed — although after being panned by the critics, it was probably one for hardcore fans only.
The foursome are still making waves 20 years on – the show’s official Facebook page has more than 13 million followers. And there are several Sex and the City tours you can go on in New York – visiting haunts like the Magnolia Bakery to get cupcakes, and even getting to sit on Carrie’s front stoop.
Where did those 20 years go?