A tutu-clad Carrie BradshawÂ stumbled into our lives on June 6, 1998, and weâve never really been the same. âSex and the Cityâ ushered in a new era of television shows that took a frank approach to sex and relationships, while also deftly capturing the more elusive love of a place â namely, New York City.
Two decades years later, show creators are still finding ways to evoke SATC. So we got to thinkingÂ about how â and whether â they pulled it off.
For all of its merits, âSex and the Cityâ was woefully lacking when it came to diversity (donât even get us started on the episode that featured Samantha dating a black man). Enter âGirlfriends,â which followed four black women navigating friendship, relationships and successful careers in their 30s. The beloved UPN turned CW comedy was often referred to as the black âSex and the City,â but it was so much more than that.
As creator Mara Brock Akil told Yahoo Entertainment, âGirlfriendsâ tapped intoÂ themesÂ of SATC, while zeroing in on the often-overlooked experience of black women. When it came to SATC, Brock Akil said, âit was almost likeÂ we were invisible.â
âSometimes being black in America, being a black woman in America, that is a part of your experience â except when you are with your own, you are allowed a safe place to be, and your girlfriend is a really rich relationship for you, and nuanced,â Brock Akil continued.Â âIt was meaningful on a very deep level, and I wanted to express that.â
The Adrian Grenier-led dramedy, which premiered in 2004, was a lot like SATC in several ways â it followed a group of four friends living often (but not always) glamorous lives. But we didnât really need a bro version of âSex and the City,â and âEntourageâ stands on its own merits â for better and for worse.
âGreyâs Anatomyâ (2005)
Shonda Rhimesâs long-running medical drama takes place in Seattle, not New York City. But it premiered just over a year after SATC went off the air,Â and not even Rhimes was immune toÂ casting parallels to her own showâs strong female friendships and steamy sex scenes.Â Rhimes said inÂ a seminar for MasterclassÂ that she had informally and (grudgingly) pitched the show as âSex in the Surgery.â
Fourteen seasons (not to mention, multiple spinoffs) later, we think of Meredith Grey as her own kind of heroine.
âGossip Girlâ (2007)
Some (ahem, Parents Television Council)Â might argue that there was a little too much sex in CWâs soapy drama about a group ofÂ rich and beautiful highÂ school studentsÂ running wild through Manhattanâs Upper East Side. Nevertheless, âGossip GirlâÂ channeledÂ theÂ romance andÂ fashion of its predecessor, while also feeling as if it couldnât have taken place elsewhere (New York Magazine dubbed it âthe New Yorkiest television show since âSex and the Cityâ).â
Incidentally, the show paid homage to SATC in its final episode, which featured Florence and the Machineâs cover of Candi Stantonâs âYouâve Got the Love.â Eight years earlier, SATC had featured Stantonâs song in the final scenes of its last episode.
[Warning: The video below contains one instance of explicit language.]
When Lena Dunhamâs dramedy about a group of young New York women premiered in 2012, the comparisons were swift and plentiful.
âIt was practically a mantra on set thatÂ âGirlsâ is not the new âSex and the City,â âÂ Emily Nussbaum noted in New York magazine. Mantras notwithstanding, Nussbaum asserted that âGirlsâ was âa post-âSex and the Cityâ show, albeit one with an aesthetic thatâs raw and bruised, not aspirational.â
Dunham, meanwhile, said her showâs focus on 20-somethingsÂ helped fill theÂ gap between Carrie Bradshaw et al. and âGossip Girlâsâ overprivileged teenagers.
âThe Carrie Diariesâ (2013)
As Hannah Horvath settled in at HBO, CW tried to further the SATC-âGossip Girlâ connections with âThe Carrie Diaries,âÂ a short-lived SATC prequel that countedÂ alumni of both shows among its executive producers.Â The show, which focused on a high school-era Carrie Bradshaw, earned praise for spot-on casting (namely, AnnaSophia Robb as Carrie and Lindsey Gort as Samantha). But âThe Carrie Diariesâ couldnât quite capture the magic of HBOâs version and was canceled after two seasons.
âGirlfriendsâ Guide to Divorceâ (2014)
Another drama, another group ofÂ close girlfriends. Like SATC, this Bravo seriesÂ follows an introspective writer (Lisa Edelstein) with relationship struggles. If Carrie Bradshaw were an L.A.-based divorcee, it might look something like this. Fun fact: Edelstein could have starred as Carrie Bradshaw.
âSex and the CityâÂ creator Darren Star managed to strike gold again with thisÂ surprisingly delightful gem about a 40-year-old woman (Sutton Foster) posing as a 26-year-old in Manhattanâs cutthroat publishing world. Like Starâs original hit, âYoungerâ doesnât shy away from talking about sex, andÂ Patricia Field,Â the designerÂ behind the memorable attire of SATCâs leading ladies, helps create the showâs bold, character-driven fashion.
As a bonus, âYoungerâ is quirkier and, for what itâs worth, has more Aidans than Mr. Bigs.
If âInsecureâ is like âSex and the City,â itâs more so in its subtle appreciation of a city. In this case, itâs often overlooked areas of Los Angeles that are in the showâs DNA.
âGirlfriends,â not âSex and the City,â is the true forebear of Issa Raeâs HBO comedy, which counts âGirlfriendsâ alum Prentice Penny as its showrunner. (Thereâs even a reference toÂ the CW showÂ in an early episode). Both âGirlfriendsâ and âInsecureâ are revolutionary in their authentic and sexy approach to telling stories about black womenÂ and their friendships. âInsecureâ takes it a step further with its muted portrayal ofÂ black millennial life â from intimate relationships to racial microaggressions in the workplace.
When Sarah Jessica Parker returned to HBO in 2016Â â to star in this dreary dramedy about a newly separated middle-aged couple âÂ the comparisons were inevitable. The verdict? Decidedly not the newÂ âSex and the City.â
âThe Bold Typeâ (2017)
This Freeform series about a group of 20-something women rising in the ranks of a Cosmopolitanesque fashion magazine is the latestÂ dramedy toÂ remind us of the intense friendshipsÂ of SATC. Twenty years removed from the HBO series, itâs younger, more earnest and more diverse.
Itâs alsoÂ surprisingly very good.
âItâs part journalism drama, part âSex and the Cityââstyle female-bonding comedy with sex and romance; itâs equally interested in being both things at once, to the best of its ability, and damned if it doesnât pull it off more often than youâd think,âÂ Matt Zoller Seitz wroteÂ at Vulture.