Will Gen Z embrace Sex and the City on Netflix?

Other crass comments were offensive to the LGBTQ+ community, such as Carrie telling her friends that “I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown”, or Samantha bemoaning of the trans sex workers outside her penthouse apartment: “I am paying a fortune to live in a neighbourhood that’s trendy by day, and tranny by night”.

Kareem Belfon, 27, says he’s “relatively new” to SATC, watching it for the first time in 2022, but he’s a big fan, and he even tunes into three of the biggest SATC themed podcasts: So I Got To Thinking, Every Outfit, and Sentimental in the City. But despite his deep affection for the show, it also has some glaring limitations for him. “The show had no idea how to talk about race,” he says. “And when it did, it was mortifying. When a person of colour would appear, they were shown as crude stereotypes, fetishised, or played for laughs. Watching the show with 2024 eyes, I’m used to watching TV shows that show rich, white characters and their White Mess (The White Lotus, Big Little Lies, Succession), but it’s clear that SATC had no intention of portraying people of colour with any sensitivity.”

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Estelle feels the same: “It’s frustrating to see characters who can be so inspiring and entertaining suddenly use language that would never be deemed acceptable now, completely ‘othering’ a group of people.”

Interestingly, some of these problematic statements have been retroactively corrected by the audience itself, again through the device of memes – see 2015’s #WokeCharlotte craze, in which stills of offending scenes were newly mocked up with Charlotte calling out her friends’ misspoken words.

However, as Katz suggests, the fact that it has dated in some aspects, as all shows do, does not invalidate its enduring strengths. “People saying SATC is problematic upon rewatch, sure, they’re not wrong,” he says. “But I think that discounts all the things that remain very much fresh within the show… [In many other ways] the show was incredibly progressive at the time, and remains so today.”

Eyebrow-raising elements

As the title obviously suggests, sex in the series features frequently. But with under 30s reported to be having less sex, and half of Gen Z viewers in a recent UCLA study saying they wanted “less sex on screen” will the series be too scandalous for them? “There’s been a lot of conversation about the prudish nature of this generation,” suggests Katz, “So perhaps the sex might shock them. But I don’t think it’s that ‘sexy’ of a show, as the sex is often played for laughs.”

More likely to raise eyebrows is the amount of characters smoking cigarettes and the heavy drinking culture on the show, with young adults now reportedly preferring to drink less than older generations. But the biggest culture shock of them all could be the characters actually having the money to pay for round upon round of Cosmos and frequent brunches and lunches in fancy restaurants, as people of all ages struggle with a cost of living crisis. “New viewers could see the show as aspirational escapism,” Kareem suggests, “as opposed to an accurate portrayal of lived experiences. But then again, I question whether Carrie Bradshaw, a woman who spent $40,000 on shoes, was ever in any way relatable to anyone?”

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