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'Sex And The City' Has Landed On Netflix, But What Will Gen Z Think?

sex and the city has come to netflix
What Will Gen Z Think Of 'SATC' On Netflix?getty images

Even for the longest-standing fans of Sex and the City, there are likely to be moments from the show recalled with a shiver of cringe. It might be the time that Carrie spends an entire episode worrying about the fact that she farted in front of Mr. Big, or, you know, the whole of the second movie.

Some of the issues are more deep-rooted, of course, including a glaring lack of diversity and insensitive portrayals of parts of the LGBTQ+ community. It was this problematic history that the show’s creators tried to address in the reboot And Just Like That... – often a little heavy handedly.

But nevertheless, SATC remains, and generations continue to ask themselves whether they’re a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte, or a Miranda. The latest of these is Gen Z, the eldest of whom were born in 1997, just a year before the first season of the show originally aired. They’re about to be introduced – or reintroduced – to the series thanks to all six seasons landing on Netflix in the US this week (fear not, we're sure it won't take long before it comes to the UK).

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Around 260m subscribers worldwide now have the chance to kick off their Manolos, reach for a Cosmo and settle in for an escapist jaunt around New York in the late 1990s. But will the youngest, 'wokest' viewers find it all a minefield of alarmingly dated plotlines and questionable characters? Will they dash off a quick Post-it note goodbye (don’t hate them) and switch off?

Not so fast. It’s quite possible they’ll do some combination of both. The Daily Mail may have already reported that SATC’s appearance on Netflix has sparked a ‘bitter debate’ between Millennial and Gen Z viewers. But, asking around via the magic of Instagram DMs, it seems that most are resisting the urge to proclaim the show either good or evil, paving the way for new, less binarised dialogue.

It’s easy to find Gen Z SATC mega-fans who will be rewatching the show on Netflix, including one 24-year-old who says it’s the ‘only thing’ she watches. ‘The second I finish it, I start from season one again,’ she explains.

The sceptical are also quick to comment. ‘It deffo is dated,’ quips another Gen Z viewer, who’s 26. ‘They say some insane stuff, like when Carrie compares the battle between married and single people to the conflict in Ireland. It comes across as complete lack of awareness.’ On this note, many also point to the episode in which Carrie finds out that a man she is dating is bisexual (season three, episode four, ‘Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl…’) and says: ‘I'm not even sure bisexuality exists, I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.’

But the majority of the Gen Zs that replied to an Instagram callout agreed that SATC strikes an unusual balance between the dated and the timeless. ‘Politically, it hasn't aged well, but some of their problems are ageless and it still feels like fun escapism,’ says a 24-year-old viewer. ‘It focuses on four successful, independent women and their friendship, so its appeal is enduring in that sense,’ adds another.

One 26-year-old, who feels passionately about the subject, advises her fellow Gen Z viewers to ‘put on ur big girl context hat and be smart when Carrie is dumb and biphobic’. ‘It’s almost like a 1990s period piece like Pride and Prejudice, most everyday viewers don’t watch media like that without some sense of historical and social context,’ she says.

‘I think most of the Gen Z audience who will get through the first few episodes will be able to see it for what it is. As for people who refuse to watch it, I totally respect it but I do think they will really miss out.’ Popular Instagram accounts like @wokecharlotte and @everyoutfitonsatc strike a similar chord, making memeable fun of the series’ oversights.

We might expect self-styled Millennial apologists – the ones who brought back indie sleaze and embrace Friends despite its foibles – to find pleasure among the problems. As Vanity Fair sagely predicts, it’s only a matter of time before the Carrie Bradshaw-inspired get-ready-with-me TikTok videos begin. And let’s hope there’s a revival of some classic (and less controversial) SATC debates too, such as Big vs. Aidan, the challenges of singledom and, above all, can and should an adult pull off a tutu.

For all its flaws, SATC’s refreshingly bold (at the time) depictions of dating, sex and singledom remain worthy of our attention. It’s easy to forget that when the show originally aired between 1998 and 2004, male critics consistently dismissed it as ‘shallow’ and ‘frivolous’, complaining that they didn’t find the characters ‘likeable’.

One, in 1999, called the characters ‘narcissistic Tinker Bells with attitude’. Surely any generation will be pleased that the show’s ongoing success has proved these detractors wrong.


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