The cast was split, the public picking sides. Perhaps no controversy is more emblematic of the 2010s.

By Sean Santiago
Updated Dec 30, 2019 @ 8:00 am
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There’s nothing that speaks to the incessant nostalgia-mongering of the 2010s quite like the implosion of the third Sex And the City movie. The first sequel christened the decade, bowing in theaters on May 28, 2010. It saw our heroines decamp from the well-worn city streets of NYC for the wide expanses of the United Arab Emirates, where they proceeded to ride Michael Patrick King’s deflated sack of a script into a wide open tomb of irrelevance. Since then, at the behest of very few people, the idea of a third movie has been insistently resurrected, like an overeager John Thomas that refuses to take a hint.

In 2014, King disclosed to Entertainment Weekly, “Sarah Jessica and I both know what that final chapter is. That doesn’t mean it will or should be told, but I do think there’s one story left.” The keyword here is “should.” Can’t Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte live on happily in our memories (and on @EveryOutfitOnSATC?) Kim Cattrall, for her part, seemed to have moved on by the summer of 2016, when she told the UK’s Daily Record that she’d gotten “really into indigo dyeing” while performing in Scotland. When reports surfaced toward the end of that year that “all of the women had signed on” for a third movie, our collective antipathy was soon rewarded with fallout, frustration and major frenemy energy.

It all peaked in late 2017, when a piqued Sarah Jessica Parker said on the red carpet of the New York City Ballet Fall Gala, “It’s over...we’re not doing it.” But preceding that grave admission were years and years of back-and-forth between Parker and Cattrall; the two had a reported decades-spanning conflict that went from détente to detonated when Cattrall’s alleged demands during negotiations that year “torpedoed” the third film. It was suggested that she asked for too much — too much money, too many revisions, too many resources for other projects.

On an October 2017 episode of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (aired about a month after Parker’s red carpet reveal), Cattrall says that she’d turned down the project in December the year prior. “They’re all basically blaming you for ruining everybody’s fun,” Morgan tells her. A clip from the episode in which Cattrall says she’d “never been friends” with any of her cast members made its way around the web; Ryan Murphy called for her character to be recast. She herself said she was open to it.

But throughout all of the noise a clear refrain emerges: Cattrall was simply uninterested in signing on for another dud movie. The proposed third script in the series was said to revolve around the death of Chris Noth’s character, high-functioning toaster of a man Mr. Big. A sexting bit between Miranda Hobbes’s (Cynthia Nixon) teenage son, Brady, and Samantha was also said to have drawn righteous ire. Actor Willie Garson, who played Stanford Blatch in the series, said of the loss, “This is going to hurt us all, I assume, for years.” To which I say: I can’t care. I’m sorry. Don’t hate me. Maybe one cast’s pain is the movie-going public’s lucky break?

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Or maybe it’s really just time to, in the words of another 2010’s heroine, let it go. Parker’s famous name graces her own lines of perfumes, shoes and sunglasses; she’s also the lead of HBO’s Divorce and is set to return to Broadway with husband Matthew Broderick. Miranda has been reborn an icon this decade, her critical disposition reimagined as canonical fodder for countless memes and a book, We Should All Be Mirandas; Cynthia Nixon also literally ran for governor of New York. Cattrall has a series on Netflix, Sensitive Skin, and plays matriarch Margaret Monreaux on Fox’s Filthy Rich. Kristin Davis — well, she chillingly admitted on Bravo that she’s been penning her own SATC fanfic, just in case, and has a "whole short movie” in her head. “We go to China because my daughter wants to go on an inheritance trip where you go to see your homeland. And when we're in China, Carrie and Charlotte have a whole adventure in China! That could be amazing, right?” Davis, like the character she played, seems to be forever an optimist.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Do women’s professional lives get to be separate from their personal ones? We place a lot of demands on female friendship and the stories that contain it, partly because the stories that contain women so often pit them against one another. If the 2010s taught us anything, it’s that difficult stories about women are so often warped into stories about difficult women. The vilification of Kim Cattrall in this saga being a perfect example of that trend. The enduring appeal of a third Sex And The City movie is the opportunity to put a bow on it; to wrap everything up neatly and nicely. Instead, can we just let this story be messy? Can we let it end with two mediocre film adaptations, overshadowed by a decade-long whotankedit? Can we let Carrie and Samantha and Charlotte and Miranda be imperfect, not just in real life, but in our imaginations? It looks like we finally have to.

This story is a part of "The Teens": an exploration of what we loved, learned, and became in the last decade.