Is the new Sex and the City too woke?

Like Charlotte York Goldenblatt I also read the Daily Mail. And it hasn’t escaped my notice that many of its readers don’t like the new Sex and the City. “Too woke” is one of the most common complaints. The show certainly has changed since the 1998–2004 original, but is that a bad thing?

Woke is a term of insult in newspapers such as the Daily Mail. When the Mail describes people as woke it usually means that they are unbearably smug about their progressive beliefs. Of course, that’s not the original meaning of woke. The term was coined to describe a person who is awake to racism, social injustice, and their own privilege.

So, in what ways is the Sex and the City reboot a woke show? For one thing, the casting choices redress the overwhelming whiteness of the original series. The 2021 cast is now much more representative of New York’s racially diverse population.

The reboot features non-binary characters for the first time. Carrie’s podcasting boss Che Diaz prefers to be called they and them. Charlotte’s child Rose changes their name to Rock and also asks for they/them pronouns to be used.

The third thing that gets the new Sex and the City accused of wokery is the developing relationship between Che and Miranda. Though of course, this isn’t the first time that one of the main female characters has dated someone who isn’t a man. In the original series Samantha Jones has a serious relationship with an artist named Maria.

Does all this wokeness make the reboot a less enjoyable show than the original? Absolutely not. I think it makes the show very enjoyable.

The Sex and the City of 1998–2004 often meant a lot to those straight female viewers who could see their own dating experiences in the stories. This made the original show very relatable for some people.

I think the 2021 reboot is also appealing for its relatability. But this time its central appeal isn’t the characters’ dating adventures. To me, the new Sex and the City feels like a show about being middle aged in a culture that has changed a lot in recent years. When Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte make mistakes in the new culture, some original fans, now older themselves, will be able to watch and relate.

If the reboot had placed the trio in an all white, gender-binary New York, the stories wouldn’t have felt nearly as real or as relatable.

So far I’ve said nothing to persuade anyone who thinks that wokeness equals unbearable smugness. While it is true, sometimes, that some people are horribly convinced of their own virtue, I don’t think that’s true of the reboot. Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are never depicted as people who get it right all the time. They make mistakes and sometimes cause offence. This stops the stories feeling smug or preachy, and goes towards keeping it real.

You can find further information about the show, properly titled And Just Like That, on the IMDb website.

Red apple
The big apple!

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