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Sex and The City had a diversity problem, and as a woman of colour this is what I hope to see this time around…


There is no denying that Sex and The City had a major impact on pop culture during its six-season reign. I for one was hooked on the fashion, the frivolity, the portrayal of female friendship, and the ground-breaking way in which the protagonists talked about sex.

It’s the show that made me want to move to New York, taught me about sexual liberation and the importance of cultivating my female friendships. But it was also yet another show that made it glaringly obvious that I (as a mixed heritage Black and white girl) was irrelevant, and the same can be said for the BAME community as a whole (and those who are disabled, working class, or LGBTQ) for that matter.

It seems so odd now to think that the creators of a show that set out to push the envelope, decided to centre their story around four white women, despite being set in one of the most diverse cities in the world. So, while social media is abuzz with excitement over the news that Sex And The City is coming back to our screens. I won’t be tuning in past episode one unless its creators have finally understood that the lack of diversity we saw in the original and the problematic portrayal of the few people of colour we did see – just won’t cut it in 2021.


Decolonising the Screen


When Black and Brown people can’t see themselves on screen, it not only screams this is not made for you, that society doesn’t value you, it also tells a white audience that their stories are the only ones that matter. It makes BAME people other and ‘pushes the coloniser narrative that Anglo Europeans are superior in every way. Many people are smart enough to know this isn’t true, but there are still those who do. If this wasn’t the case BLM wouldn’t exist. So, it’s important that the those in the upper echelons of TV and film understand that there is an element of education that needs to be implemented, as what we see on screen can be used as a powerful tool to dismantle racist notions of the past,’ believes television producer and managing director of Wilson Wide World, Josh Wilson.

As a teen, I was very used to not seeing myself in the programmes I loved, so much so that I didn’t give it much thought. But now that I look back, I see the damage that has done to my sense of self-worth, and the way I manoeuvre in the world. While BAME women didn’t get a look in at all, the few times SATC portrayed Black women they dangerously fed the angry black women trope and the subservient Black female trope respectively.

In season 3, when Samantha starts dating a Black record executive (because Black men are rarely successful unless they work in music or sports, right?!) their relationship is cut short because his sister doesn’t want him dating a white woman. Writers hammed up the angry Black women stereotype, placing white Samantha as the more open, enlightened party, elevating her and further pushing her superiority, while also making her a victim of ‘reverse racism’ (which is not actually a real thing). Despite the fact that all the while Samantha makes inappropriate comments re what it’s like to have sex with a Black man. And while they did a little better in the final season when Miranda starts dating the Black doctor in her building, the damage had been done.

Over the course of six seasons, Black stereotypes are used for laughs, and ironic fashion statements. Who remembers Samantha’s chemo afro wig, and Carrie’s ‘ghetto’ jewellery? While to end the shows run, the white saviour trope rears its head as Charlotte adopts a baby girl from China.

And, then when they had a chance to redeem themselves in not one but two movies, representation is majorly lacking and flawed once again. Movie one sees Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson cast as Carrie’s assistant. She was not the powerful, successful, Black women we all needed to see. Instead, she was the subservient Black women who worshiped her white boss, performed basic tasks (like sorting post) that Carrie couldn’t fathom doing herself, and was appropriately grateful when receiving Carrie’s hand-me-downs. What’s more she gave up on her New York City dreams to head back to St Louis to get married – thus telling the audience that Black women can’t have it all.

In movie two, Penelope Cruz has a 2-minute cameo giving creators just enough time to play on the hyper-sexualisation of Latin women, while the rest of the films depiction of Arabs can only be described as reductive and anti-Muslim.

Readdressing Diversity

Fast forward to 2018 and even Sarah Jessica Parker herself acknowledged how white and privileged the show was, “you couldn’t make it today because of the lack of diversity on screen. I personally think it would feel bizarre.” She also dismissed the idea of a reboot, “I don’t know that you could do it with a different cast. It wouldn’t be a reboot as I understand it,” she continued. “If you came back and did six episodes, you’d have to acknowledge the city is not hospitable to those same ideas. You’d look like you were generationally removed from reality, but it would be certainly interesting to see four diverse women experiencing NYC their way. It would very worthwhile exploring, but it couldn’t be the same,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

With this statement in mind, I can’t help but wonder… if creators and the lead cast have finally learnt from their mistakes of old? They must have done if they feel confident enough to reboot a show that in its current form should stay firmly in the past. So, while I understand that in the midst of a global pandemic, anything that offers a sense of nostalgia may feel comforting, I hope that what’s to come is diverse and inclusive and that all women who watch this reboot will feel seen.

We won’t see the return of Kim Cattrall reprising her role as Samantha, so instead I hope that we see at least one (but hopefully more) strong BAME female lead. And I hope that in this new SATC, BAME women, especially Black women who are relatively unseen in TV and film, aren’t reduced to stereotypes and are allowed to exist on screen in the same way their white counterparts have for decades.



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