I tend to think of a third Sex and the City movie the same way I think of a mirage: It’s fun to fantasize over for a second, but let’s face it, it’s not real.
Maybe the mirage association isn’t so random, considering I wasn’t a fan of the desert-set second film—but we’ll get to that in a second. Because what’s worth noting today is that Sex and the City 3 is looking like a serious proposition for the first time. Michael Patrick King just gave an interview to EW driving home that the story for a “final chapter” has already formed in his head—and Sarah Jessica Parker approves of it too.
Add in the seeming openness of the rest of the actresses, and you’ve got—well, not a no-brainer of a deal, but 60 percent of one. The other 40 percent of the convincing argument to make this movie comes from all of us, basically. We still reference Carrie Bradshaw on the reg. We’ve responded enthusiastically to a SATC prequel series, even accepting a new Samantha. As Tanya summed it up so brilliantly in this post, “Yes, we still care. And we’re fine with that.”
What’s more: You might have noticed there’s a hole in the movie market right now shaped exactly like this idea. While we’ve seen some great female-driven comedies in the past year or so—think Aubrey Plaza in The To-Do List or Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock in The Heat—Hollywood has yet to recapture the major moment that was the ensemble-powered, box-office-annihilating Bridesmaids. And if the next new girl-group blockbuster has to come from old friends, so be it.
So, yes: The timing is finally right. And the timing is finally urgent. Besides chasing that Bridesmaids gold ring, there’s also the fact that there’s a fine line between “It’s so refreshing that they took some space between sequels” and “Wait, what went down in the last one again?”
What went down in the last one, by the way, still kinda puzzles me. I loved, loved, loved the first SATC movie. The anticipation was out of control, from the announcement to the Fashion Week set run-up to the moment I settled into a cineplex seat on the Upper East Side with my best friends—after waiting in a ticket line that had stretched around the block. And the beautiful thing was, they really nailed it. Sex and the City, the movie, had plenty of flash, but it was also real and complicated and sometimes sad. The genius four-calendar-seasons setup gave it the rich feel of a full season of the show.
When it came to the sequel, I understood the inclination to go over-the-top—to do the $100 million version of the glittery episodes in Paris and L.A.—but I didn’t feel the same emotional connection. Charlotte’s mommy stress, Carrie’s marriage settling, Samantha’s (second round of) libido fears, and Miranda’s career break were no match for the riveting emotional arcs of the first movie. The more extravagant their Abu Dhabi jaunt got, the lower the stakes felt. I came to all these conclusions after watching it on demand, on a sick day, because I was unable to ignore the bad reviews when it came out.
So maybe that’s the reason I’d be down to see Sex and the City 3—2 just felt like too empty of a note to end on. (And maybe, to an extent, that was the plan all along.) But what is the last story that should be told about these women?
What makes answering that so challenging is: I think we’ve all already gotten the main things we wanted for them—and that presents some story difficulty. Nobody wants to watch Carrie and Big break up for the zillionth time—and nobody wants to pay $14.50 to watch them be at blissful peace, either. Charlotte is already a mother, her life’s work as we know it complete, even on exhausting days. Miranda has been in a stable situation for years, and it would take some doing to get everyone on board with a Samantha-retiring-from-sexual-freedom ending. We’re perhaps as attached to her independence as we are to Carrie and Big’s coupled destiny.
If expectations were high for the original movie adaptation, they’ll be stratospheric for any film claiming to wrap the franchise. I wouldn’t want to be in Michael Patrick King’s shoes—but I’ll wear them just for a second, and tell you a few things I’d love to see him do.
Ignoring the recent past—and plumbing the ancient past. You can’t come full circle without hearkening back to your beginnings, and diving deep into the girls’ personal histories is one way to avoid retracing the other movies’ steps. I’m talking the kind of bold plot points that would be inspired by them stumbling on their enthusiastic diaries from the year they turned 22. Do I want to see Miranda doing midday yoga at her new, crunchy law firm? No! I want to see her reading Lean In and reaching new heights as a high-profile, ball-busting lawyer, maybe for Google. (Bonus: scenes inside its super-cool Chelsea offices.) I’d love for Charlotte to have a real, true reinvention, facilitated by her old gallery career—maybe she gets into experimental art circles and starts wearing black lipstick. (What? She’s into Lorde, OK?) Samantha should finally be wising up to the fact that with her PR prowess, she can make anyone famous, including herself—so she does, becoming an ultra-famous life guru, a cross between Oprah and Dr. Ruth, who laughs in the face of cutout-dress age cutoffs. And Carrie? I’m gonna get some flak for this one, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Carrie (whose Russian-era internal struggle over not being a mother was so poignant) and Big become flustered, late-in-life parents.
Sticking to New York. Obviously, a final movie represents one last chance to feature the city—and how cool would it be to showcase elements that prove how Manhattan’s landscape has changed since the show began? I’m thinking sunsets on the High Line and meetings in the new World Trade Center One—and, yes, the gals should obviously, tragically, accidentally end up in Williamsburg, land of the Girls girls and their mesh tank tops, at some point.
Zeitgeist-y casting. All these years later, I still remember Jennifer Hudson’s performance as one of the most exciting things about the first movie. Not only was she fabulous and central to the action, but the choice itself was perfectly timed as J.Hud enjoyed a heady Dreamgirls buzz affair with the same audience that would go on to to watch SATC. What I’m trying to say is, this time around no film will be complete without Mindy Kaling in a substantial speaking role.
Meta moments. Just as the series has been around long enough to be passed to a new generation of young women, so too should Carrie’s writings be enjoying a renaissance in the fictional SATC world. Not that renaissance equals worship—maybe Selena Gomez plays a snarky writer known for her teasing takes on Carrie’s work.
Tiny fan love letters. King said in that EW piece that he doesn’t pay attention to fan feedback on the Internet—but he should, he should! It’s basically a free cheat sheet to the SATC elements that still have the strongest holds on our hearts. So it tickles us now that Bradley Cooper and Justin Theroux played Carrie flings before they were famous? Bring ’em back! So we still regard Berger’s breakup Post-it as the ultimate shameful goodbye? Call Ron Livingston’s people—it’s time for that guy to get his big-screen comeuppance. No, really. It is.
But what do I know? Maybe the girls just buy their beloved diner to keep it from going under, leading to Samantha presiding over a Vanderpump Rules situation. What would you guys love to see happen in a third and final film?