Sex and the City author/creator Candace Bushnell has a great interview with The Guardian. I’ve seen Bushnell in interviews and I read Four Blondes like everybody else, but I never really developed much of an opinion – love or hate – for her. I think her column, which became the HBO show, was part of a sort of bygone era for women. The mid-90s, the late 90s, and the early aughts. It seemed like so long ago, and some parts of the show haven’t aged particularly well. Anyway, this Guardian interview is really good, and Bushnell comes across well. She talks realistically about what she would have changed about Sex and the City and and why Carrie and Mr. Big wouldn’t have really ended up together. Some highlights:
What would the ‘Sex and the City’ column would look like today: “I suppose it would be on some kind of blog, and people would be responding with their own stories. But back then the Observer had an audience, a very specific one, and we were just trying to reach that audience. Whereas today, everybody wants to appeal to everybody. The column wasn’t designed that way and yet, ironically, it took off and appealed to a great many people.
Whether Carrie & Big really should have ended up together: “Well, I think, in real life, Carrie and Big wouldn’t have ended up together. But at that point the TV show had become so big. Viewers got so invested in the storyline of Carrie and Big that it became a bit like Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. They had become an iconic couple and women really related to it; they would say “I found my Mr Big” or “I just broke up with my Mr Big.” It became part of the lexicon. And when people are making a TV show, it’s show business, not show art, so at that point it was for the audience and we weren’t thinking about what the impact would be 10 years later.
Whether a present-day SATC would address politics more overtly: “I actually think the characters would be involved in politics in some way. I think Miranda would probably be marching for human rights and the show would address it in a bigger way. But at the time, in 1998, everything was on a big upturn. The housing market was coming back, the stock market was going up. I think people worried a bit less. Until 9/11, it was a fairly carefree time, at least compared to today.
The heightened sense of feminism these days: “When the show started that was really a time when women were starting to say, “Oh, I’m not a feminist.” In the 80s, everybody I knew was a feminist. You had to be to survive. There was no pretending sexism didn’t exist because it was in your office every single day. But it wasn’t like Donald Trump. It was a little more jocular, I suppose. Then you started to get these TV shows, like Say Yes to the Dress or Bridezillas. There was really a proliferation of shows that turned away from feminism and towards the idea, once again, of marriage as the ultimate goal. But I think it’s lessening now, and we’re swimming back in the right direction.
I was prepared to yell about comparing Big and Carrie to Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy, but really… she’s sort of right. I mean, Lizzie Bennett and Darcy are iconic romantic heroes, but the story of Big and Carrie was such a big deal in pop culture. Personally, I think the show could have gotten away with not putting Big and Carrie together at the end, if only Carrie had met someone she could truly be with forever. Aiden wasn’t that guy – although I still love the fact that one of the biggest TV shows in the world had its lead character break off an engagement because SHE had cold feet, because she didn’t want to get married. Mikhail Baryshnikov’s character could have been the one, only Carrie has to be the center of attention at all times, so of course that couldn’t work out. Maybe Bushnell is wrong – maybe Carrie and Big did belong together. They were the only ones who could feed each other’s drama-queening perfectly.
Photos courtesy of WENN, HBO.