The Untold Truth Of Sex And The City Revival And Just Like That...

Making its debut in 1998, "Sex and the City" became a monster hit for HBO and focused on the racy adventures of sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her group of female friends. When the series finally bowed out after six seasons, it had transcended being merely a hit TV show to becoming a bona fide cultural phenomenon. That was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt when Parker and co-stars Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis reunited for a big-screen "Sex and the City" movie in 2008 that raked in more than $418 million at the box office worldwide, ultimately spawning a 2010 sequel.

Fast-forward to 2020, when early reports that a reboot was in the works for streaming service HBO Max were confirmed by Parker on social media. This new limited series — titled "And Just Like That..." – would catch up on the lives of Carrie and her pals, showing fans what life is like for the women now that they are in their 50s.

It's a no brainer that fans will be tuning in, yet how much is really known about this new series? Read on to discover the untold truth of "Sex and the City" revival "And Just Like That..."

The real reason Kim Cattrall didn't return to the Sex and the City revival

While the original "Sex and the City" and its big-screen spinoffs centered on Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and pals Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), and Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Kim Cattrall was a no-show for "And Just Like That..." For those who'd been following persistent reports of a longstanding feud between Parker and Cattrall, however, the news was more disappointing than surprising. In fact, in 2017, People had reported that plans for a third "Sex and the City" movie had been scrapped when the studio "pulled the plug" due to Cattrall's allegedly "outrageous demands." 

That same year, Cattrall answered a fan query on Twitter about potentially reprising the role of Samantha for a "Sex and the City" revival. She responded, "I've played 'SAM' for 20 years. Am moving on & so should you."

Her view about returning to the "Sex and the City" fold in some future iteration did not change over time. Asked by the Daily Mail in 2019 if she would ever return to the franchise, Cattrall did not hesitate when she declared, "Never. It's a no from me."

Samantha Jones may not be in the show — but the character isn't dead

While fans of "Sex and the City" may have been disappointed that Kim Cattrall's Samantha Jones wasn't part of the 2021 revival, they could at least content themselves with confirmation that the sex-loving Manhattan publicist had not shuffled off this mortal coil. As HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys explained to TVLine, Samantha's absence from the series was simply a reflection of how "just as in real life, people come into your life, people leave. Friendships fade, and new friendships start ... the friends that you have when you're 30, you may not have when you're 50."

If that hinted Samantha was still alive but no longer friendly with Carrie, "And Just Like That..." showrunner Michael Patrick King offered a more definitive explanation of the character's fate in an interview with The New York Times. "Nobody's dead," King told the Times. "Nobody."

Actor Chris Noth, who is returning as Mr. Big, shared his thoughts on Cattrall's negativity toward the show. "I just wish that whole thing had never happened because it was sad and uncomfortable," he told The Guardian.

And Just Like That... marks the final screen credit for a beloved fan favorite

During the summer of 2021, fans of "Sex and the City" were delighted to learn that Carrie Bradshaw's best friend Stanford Blatch, played by Willie Garson, would be among the characters brought back for the revival. Garson subsequently spoke about reprising the role in "And Just Like That..." while discussing the show with Us Weekly in June. "It was like literally stepping into [Stanford's] shoes again," he shared.

Sadly, reprising Stanford would be the actor's final screen credit. As Variety reported, Garson died that September at age 57 after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis that he kept a secret from the public. "The 'Sex and the City' family has lost one of its own," eulogized "And Just Like That..." showrunner and executive producer Michael Patrick King in a statement, noting that Garson "was there — giving us his all — even while he was sick."

Speaking with The New York Times, King confirmed that Garson's death was not being incorporated into the show's storyline. "Because it wasn't charming," King explained. "And I knew that the audience would know." 

Reprising her most iconic role led Sarah Jessica Parker to confront ageism

Stepping back into Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo Blahniks more than two decades after originating the character in "Sex and the City" brought about some unexpected consequences when Sarah Jessica Parker was attacked by online trolls rudely pointing out the obvious: that she now looked older than she had in 1998. 

"There's so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man," Parker told Vogue. "Everyone has something to say. 'She has too many wrinkles, she doesn't have enough wrinkles.' It almost feels as if people don't want us to be perfectly okay with where we are ... What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?"

Meanwhile, Parker's co-star Kristin Davis told Vogue that she saw a certain degree of misogynist thinking concealed in questions about why they were even bothering with a "Sex and the City" revival in the first place. "Are women's lives not interesting now?" she said. "Nobody ever asks, 'Why would you do this violent remake over and over again?' For me that is so indicative of our reluctance to sit and watch women's lives develop over time."

Nicole Ari Parker was hit with backlash by those who thought she was replacing Kim Cattrall

With Kim Cattrall not returning for "Sex and the City" revival, other actors were brought in to fill the void, including Nicole Ari Parker. As an HBO press release informed, Parker would be portraying Lisa Todd Wexley, "a Park Avenue mother of three and documentarian."

Leading up to the show's premiere, Parker didn't divulge too much more about her character. "It's so secretive and I have to be so careful," the actor admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

While she confirmed she was enjoying the experience (she gushed that "the clothes alone are amazing"), she revealed she'd also experienced a darker side. "When it first came out that I was replacing the Samantha character — which is not true at all, so please write that — I have been yelled at, and I've also been attacked with love." A fan of "Sex and the City" herself, Ari noted she "had some idea" about how "excited" the fanbase was, but "had no idea [the extent of it]."

Why Sex and the City's famed costumer designer Patricia Field didn't return for the revival

Sarah Jessica Parker has become a fashion icon thanks to the inventive garb worn by her "Sex and the City" protagonist Carrie Bradshaw, but she didn't put together those outfits herself. As true fashionistas know, the real style genius behind Carrie's best outfits is Patricia Field, costume designer on the original series; in fact, if Carrie and her pals were the Fab Four, Field would easily fill the role of the Fifth Beatle thanks to the signature outfits she designed for the stars. Sadly for fans, Field did not return for the new HBO Max revival "And Just Like That..." 

As Field told Women's Wear Daily, her non-participation in the revival was nothing personal but simply about scheduling. As she explained, before discussions about "And Just Like That..." had even started, she had already committed to Netflix rom-com "Emily in Paris," produced by "Sex and the City" creator Darren Star.

"The main reason was a time conflict," Field explained. "I wasn't able to be in New York doing that and be in Paris doing 'Emily in Paris.'"

Cynthia Nixon stepped behind the camera to direct an episode of And Just Like That...

Of all the original "Sex and the City" cast, it's arguable that Cynthia Nixon has had the most unique journey since the show ended. In 2004, recalled Vox, she began dating Christine Marinoni (whom she later married) after being in a 15-year-relationship with a man. Then, more than a decade later, she entered the political arena with a high-profile (but ultimately unsuccessful) run for governor of New York.

Now that she's reunited with her co-stars in the series' revival, Nixon exercised another muscle by taking her skills behind the camera to direct an episode of "And Just Like That..." 

"Roll camera," she wrote in an Instagram post she shared with her 1 million followers. "I am thrilled to share that I am directing an episode of @JustLikeThatMax this season. It's been a complete dream to work with my beloved co-stars and crew in this new role. I have truly never felt so supported in my life." She concluded by assuring fans that her character, Miranda Hobbes, was also appearing in the episode she directed, although she did admit that "it was surreal to do both at once!"

Chris Noth almost didn't return to reprise Mr. Big

As soon as news of HBO Max's "Sex and the City" revival emerged, the big question on fans' minds was whether Mr. Big would return. Initial indications were that he wouldn't, with Page Six reporting that actor Chris Noth would not be reprising his iconic role in the new series, "And Just Like That..."

Noth, however, disputed that report. "Everything changes — including announcements in the rags," Noth wrote in an Instagram comment responding to a fan question, reported ET Canada. A few months later, Deadline confirmed that Noth's Mr. Big would indeed be back.

As it turned out, that earlier report wasn't entirely untrue. In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, Noth revealed that he was reluctant to sign on at first. "It was a little bit of a sort of creative negotiation because I didn't really feel I had anything to offer in that role again. It kind of felt like I had done it," he explained. However, those reservations vanished once showrunner Michael Patrick King sat down with the actor and detailed his ideas for the character. Noth explained, "Once we got together and talked about the potential of what we could do with the character, I was all in."

Producers made it a priority to introduce more diversity

Much like another television hit from the same era, "Friends," one aspect of "Sex and the City" that has not aged well has been the unmistakable whiteness of the show's four primary characters. With "And Just Like That..." producers saw an opportunity for a bit of a do-over when it came to adding some diversity to the cast. As new cast member Nicole Ari Parker told The Hollywood Reporter, she and fellow new additions to the show, Sara Ramírez, Sarita Choudhury, and Karen Pittman, are "four women of color who are fully realized women with full lives." In addition, TVLine reported that women of color were also being hired for the show's writing staff.

As HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys told TVLine, showrunner Michael Patrick King and star and exec producer Sarah Jessica Parker were adamant that they "didn't want to tell a story with all-white writers or an all-white cast." 

Interestingly enough, reported TVLine, back in 2017, Kim Cattrall floated the idea of recasting her role with an actor of color. "Maybe they could make it an African-American Samantha Jones, or a Hispanic Samantha Jones," she said during a television interview with Piers Morgan.

Why the Sex and the City revival couldn't ignore the pandemic

When the "Sex and the City" revival "And Just Like That..." went into production in early 2021, New York City was emerging from lockdown from becoming America's first epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the show's commitment to present a realistic portrayal of the Big Apple, pretending the pandemic hadn't happened simply wasn't a viable option.

Speaking with Vanity Fair, star Sarah Jessica Parker confirmed that the pandemic will "obviously be part of the storyline, because that's the city [these characters] live in. And how has that changed relationships once friends disappear? I have great faith that the writers are going to examine it all."

In addition, Parker continued, viewers would also find out many details on how the characters' lives had changed during the tumultuous decade-plus since they were last on screen in "Sex and the City 2." "What is their relationship to social media? What has changed?" she pondered, detailing some of the many changes that have overwhelmed American society in those intervening years. "How have all of these political changes affected her work? Is she still writing a column? Has she written any more books? Or does she have a podcast?"

Despite the hype, showrunner Michael Patrick King insists the show is a huge gamble

Dozens upon dozens of headlines have been made since the news that "Sex and the City" was coming back as "And Just Like That..." While that certainly speaks to the enduring popularity of one of television's most popular series, by no means was the notion of resurrecting the show without risk. 

As the show's executive producer and showrunner Michael Patrick King told The New York Times, despite the pedigree of the original and its still-engaged fanbase, television hadn't yet evolved to the point where it was easy to get a show focused on 50-something women greenlit. "I don't think that anybody would take on new women characters at 55 without proof that people will watch," he said.

Even with the show's enduring popularity, reviving "Sex and the City" was not something he took lightly. "It's dangerous. It's exciting. It's a challenge," he said, and also explained what "And Just Like That..." is not.  "It's not a cash cow," he insisted. "It's not a cash in."

All the new writers hired for the show have been women

When producers Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King committed to bringing more diversity to the cast and writers' room of "Sex and the City" revival "And Just Like That..." they also committed to another key change to the writing staff: all the new additions hired were women. As Deadline reported, female writers Samantha Irby, Rachna Fruchbom, Keli Goff, Julie Rottenberg, and Elisa Zuritsky were hired to assist King with the writing duties. 

Irby, a comedian who's written for such TV series as Hulu's "Shrill," Showtime's "Work in Progress," and Netflix's animated "Tuca & Bertie," underlined how crucial it was for women to be scripting stories about women. "I think it's revolutionary to do a show about middle-aged women, with their aging lady bodies," Irby told Vogue

King, also speaking with Vogue, pointed to a meme he'd seen comparing the new "Sex and the City" revival to "The Golden Girls." "And I was like, 'Wow, so it's either you're 35, or you're retired and living in Florida," he said. "There's a missing chapter here."

Sara Ramírez plays the first nonbinary character in the Sex and the City franchise

The world of "Sex and the City" expanded its horizons by casting former "Grey's Anatomy" star Sara Ramírez as Che Diaz for the new revival. As described by The Hollywood Reporter, the character is "a nonbinary, queer stand-up comedian who hosts a podcast on which Carrie is regularly featured."

As THR pointed out, this marks the first-ever nonbinary character featured in the franchise. "Everyone at 'And Just Like That...' is beyond thrilled that a dynamically talented actor such as Sara Ramírez has joined the 'Sex and the City' family," said showrunner Michael Patrick King in a statement. "Sara is a one-of-a-kind talent, equally at home with comedy and drama — and we feel excited and inspired to create this new character for the show."

Casting Ramírez definitely made a statement, given that the actor came out as bisexual in 2016 and as nonbinary in 2020. "Coming out publicly was something that I was afraid of because I was concerned that it would affect my career in a negative way," Ramírez told People, admitting they were "afraid of the discrimination I might face."

How plans for a podcast led to a full-fledged Sex and the City revival

In the "Sex and the City" revival "And Just Like That..." Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw regularly appears on a podcast — a 21st-century nod to how the media platforms of a once-celebrated newspaper columnist would have likely evolved over the years. 

Interestingly enough, the whole idea for reviving the show in the first place actually sprang from a potential podcast. As Parker and series exec producer Michael Patrick King told The New York Times, in the early days of New York City's COVID-19 lockdown, the two had some conversations about possibly launching a "Sex and the City"-themed podcast. As their discussions expanded, they begin to wonder how the characters' lives would have changed over the years — something, Parker sensed, fans of the show were just as curious about.

That was when, she told the Times, she experienced an epiphany. "Why are we not thinking about the thing that we've touched on many times, which is, are there more stories to tell?" she said.