In Vogue’s December cover story, Sarah Jessica Parker reflected on the reactions she noticed after it was announced she would step back into the iconic shoes of Carrie Bradshaw, nearly two decades after the end of Sex and the City. As usual, the internet was quick to comment, but the conversation has gone beyond fashion predictions and casting queries.
“[On social media] everyone has something to say. ‘She has too many wrinkles, she doesn’t have enough wrinkles,’” Parker told Vogue. “It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are, as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better. I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?”
A 2020 study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media shed light on how pervasive ageism in entertainment really is. After examining top-grossing films across Germany, France, the UK, and the US, “The Ageless Test” found that women over the age of 50 were more likely to be cast in supporting roles, often depicted as lonely and depressed. Rather than playing characters with robust lives, they were slotted in to serve as narrative anchors for their younger costars.
As for sex? The findings were equally bleak. The study concluded that older women were often depicted as asexual or non-sexual beings with “characters under 50 three times more likely than characters 50+ to be depicted in a sex scene.”
“When we announced And Just Like That…, there were a lot of positive reactions, but one bitchy response online was people sharing pictures of the Golden Girls. And I was like, ‘Wow, so it’s either you’re 35, or you’re retired and living in Florida,” said Michael Patrick King, the showrunner of the new series. “There’s a missing chapter here.”
That’s exactly why Cynthia Nixon, who plays the no-nonsense, successful lawyer Miranda Hobbes is excited about the team’s decision to keep it real, grays and all. “I like that we’re not trying to youthify the show. We’re not including, like, a 21-year-old niece.” Staff writer Samantha Irby, agreed, adding: “I think it’s revolutionary to do a show about middle-aged women, with their aging lady bodies.”
As Parker points out, sexism is at the center of the scrutiny around the show. “There’s so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man,” she told writer Naomi Fry. “‘Gray hair gray hair gray hair. Does she have gray hair?’ I’m sitting with Andy Cohen… and he has a full head of gray hair, and he’s exquisite. Why is it okay for him?”
Sex and the City was always about women claiming New York City for their own as they took on new phases of life. With the series revival, that legacy continues.