The Untold Truth Of Sex And The City
Few TV shows have had the same cultural impact as Sex and the City. The show literally defined many fashions, footwear, foods, and friendships in the noughties. Most women already know if they’re a Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte and can’t help but think of the Fab Four whenever they drink a Cosmo.
Sex and the City dates back more than 20 years. It was first aired in 1998 on HBO, and soon became a mega hit. Its four main cast members — Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis — shot to incredible fame. The show’s creator Darren Star went on to create several other popular women-in-the-city shows, like Younger and Emily in Paris — but the four actors and Star himself are all still probably best known for Sex and the City. There’s no doubt about it — this show was a huge deal!
However, there are still some secrets about Sex and the City that may surprise even the biggest fans. Curious to find out what really went on behind the scenes? Here is the untold truth of Sex and the City.
Carrie's glamorous footwear on Sex and the City ruined Sarah Jessica Parker's feet
Fashion played a huge role in Sex and the City. And shoes were an essential part of the show’s fashions. As the character Carrie Bradshaw once realized, “I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes, and I have no place to live!” While we all loved seeing Carrie clatter around New York in her seemingly endless collection of expensive footwear, it turns out that it wasn’t always fun for Sarah Jessica Parker.
In 2013, the actress revealed that the heels took a toll on her feet. “I literally ran in heels,” she confessed to The Edit (via E! News). “I worked 18-hour days and never took them off.” Apparently, she discovered years later that Carrie’s heels had actually done some permanent damage. When she hurt her ankle filming I Don’t Know How She Does It, she went to a foot doctor. “He said, ‘Your foot does things it shouldn’t be able to do,'” Parker said. She then explained that her bones had actually moved around and were in the wrong places. Yikes, that doesn’t sound good!
The cast of Sex and the City were pressured "to look great all the time"
Most of us know that Hollywood puts a lot of pressure on its female stars to look a certain way. These days, things are changing, thanks to more and more women speaking up (via Business Insider). However, back in the ’90s and 2000s, women on TV were still, for the most part, expected to be thin and beautiful.
Unfortunately, this seems to have been the case for the women of Sex and the City. Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda on the show, opened up to The Edit (via People) about her experience on the show. “Girls has been important in changing the game for female actresses,” Nixon commented. “In Sex and the City we had to be thin and look great all the time; in Girls they have permission to be more real and less airbrushed.” We think it’s great the Nixon is being honest about the unrealistic and misogynistic version of women that was presented on the show! It certainly couldn’t have been easy for the main cast.
Sex and the City's creator wasn't pleased with how things ended
Darren Star created Sex and the City, but by the end of the series, he was no longer involved in creating the plot lines or scripts. As he revealed to Kindle Singles (via Vogue), he tried to give the team of writers free rein, saying, “If you’re empowering other people to write and produce your show, at a certain point, you’ve got to let them follow their vision.” As a reminder, in the final episodes of the series, Carrie ended up in a happily-ever-after scenario with Mr. Big, which made for one of the most romantic TV scenes. However, Star wasn’t pleased. “I think the show ultimately betrayed what it was about, which was that women don’t ultimately find happiness from marriage,” Star confessed.
Even though Star was disappointed with the romantic ending, Sarah Jessica Parker thought differently. She told Yahoo Style (via Independent), “As I recall, the way Carrie and Big married was something she wanted.” She went on to explain that she didn’t see the ending as Carrie giving up or settling with someone out of desperation. She added, “The beauty is we can all have lots and lots of opinions about lots of choices Carrie made that we object to or that we stand by.”
Sarah Jessica Parker almost quit after filming the Sex and the City pilot
It’s hard to imagine Sex and the City without Sarah Jessica Parker at the helm as Carrie Bradshaw. However, it turns out, we almost got a very different leading lady. In 2016, the actress confessed on an edition of The Jess Cagle Interview for People that she was very hesitant about taking on the role after the pilot was picked up. “I met my agents in L.A. — Kevin Huvane — and I was like, ‘Do you think maybe I could not do this now?'” Parker recalled. At the time, she had gotten into a routine of doing plays and films, and she knew that Sex and the City would make this impossible. As she put it, she thought the show would “hold [her]hostage to a commitment.”
However, Parker’s mind was changed when the network explained that she’d never be held hostage. She explained that they said, “No, no, no. We don’t function like that. We want you here if you want to be here.” Thank goodness Parker was convinced to continue in her role — we can’t imagine a different Carrie!
The cast tried to encourage diverse casting… but it only happened in the last season
With more than 20 years now separating us and the release of Sex and the City, it comes as no surprise to learn that the show has dated slightly. One of the most noticeable things about the show today is that it presents an extremely white cast of characters. As fashion editor Chelsea Fairless said to The Guardian, “That show was as white as it gets.”
However, it turns out that the cast wasn’t comfortable with this lack of diversity. When a Black actor was finally cast as a romantic lead in 2003, Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda, revealed to CBS News, “We all of us, and no one more than Sarah Jessica, had lobbied for this for a long, long time.” She went on to explain that initially creators Darren Star and Candace Bushnell had written the show to reflect the circles they moved in — which were largely white. But for Nixon, this wasn’t a good excuse. “It is six years later now, and I think it’s irresponsible,” she stated.
This book was actually created thanks to the first Sex and the City movie
In the 2008 Sex and the City movie, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie, is seen leafing through a book called Love Letters of Great Men while sitting in bed with Mr. Big. Apparently, fans of the film headed to their local bookshops to purchase a copy of the book, only to find that it didn’t exist. CBS News even published an article about the sudden demand for the made-up book. As Richard Davies, press manager for AbeBooks.com, explained to the Associated Press, he had received hundreds of queries about the book after the movie’s release.
As the Independent reported, the British firm Macmillan eventually caught on to the surge in demand and published a book with the same name! The book contained the love letters of Henry VIII, Mozart, Pliny, Napoleon, and Oscar Wilde. It’s pretty cool that Sex and the City inspired its fans to read — even if the real version of the book had to be created after the film’s release!
Sex and the City was based on a real New York Observer column
As many true Sex and the City fans may already know, the show got its name from a New York Observer column of the same name that was written by the show’s co-creator Candace Bushnell. As Bushnell explained in a piece for The Hollywood Reporter, the column was pretty much all her idea. Peter Kaplan, who was then the editor-in-chief of the Observer, let Bushnell decide what she wanted to write about. “I think it should be about me and my friends, who are all single and crazy,” Bushnell had said. Kaplan then came up with the now-famous title — “Sex and the City.” It’s fascinating to hear about how it all began!
In the book Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love, author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong explained that Carrie was really Bushnell’s alter-ego, a name created so that Bushnell’s parents wouldn’t find out about her sexual escapades (via The Washington Post). In the columns, Bushnell wrote about Carrie as her “friend” — but all of the stories were actually from her own life. It turns out she even had her own “Mr. Big!”
Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw was written as a brunette
These days, it’s impossible to imagine Carrie Bradshaw without her big, bouncy blonde locks. However, it turns out that the character was originally imagined as a brunette in the first pilot script. While looks shouldn’t matter, having a darker hair color definitely would have changed Carrie.
According to BuzzFeed, the producers decided to make Carrie a blonde character just 24 hours before shooting the pilot. Talk about a last minute decision. Apparently, they changed their minds because they wanted Carrie to resemble Candace Bushnell, the original Sex and the City writer.
In fact, looking back at the pilot episode of Sex and the City, you can see that Carrie’s hair hadn’t even gone fully blonde at that point. Sarah Jessica Parker actually had a warm brunette color for that first episode. We’re glad that the producers changed their minds — Carrie’s blonde hair is totally iconic!
The storylines in Sex and the City were based on the writers' love lives
While the original premise of Sex and the City was based on Candace Bushnell’s New York Observer column, most of the plot lines came from other sources. It turns out, however, that none of the story lines were entirely made up. In an IMDb interview (via Complex), Cynthia Nixon revealed that the writers of the show always got their stories from real life. “They had a rule in the writing that they couldn’t put anything in an episode that didn’t literally happen to someone in the writer’s room or someone they knew,” Nixon said. Wow, we’ll definitely be re-watching episodes of the show with new eyes knowing that everything had literally happened to someone!
One of the show’s writers, Liz Tuccillo, explained how things worked in the writer’s room in a piece for Cosmopolitan. She said, “We were all dating so we would got out at night and come in the next morning and have some crazy story.” Apparently, a lot of the stories were seriously shocking. Wow, sounds like being single and unashamed of personal stories were pretty much requirements for writers on Sex and the City!
Kristin Davis kept Sex and the City a secret from her grandmother
There’s no denying that Sex and the City is filled some pretty scandalous sexual storylines. For actress Kristin Davis, who played Charlotte, this meant that telling certain family members about her role was a little awkward. As she told The Guardian, she asked her parents not to watch a few scenes, including the “self-lurve” scene. Her parents also hid the show from her grandmother until her passing, in case the sexual content was too upsetting for her.
However, Davis’ parents grew to love watching the show. Her father, a college teacher, even used it for his class on “Marriage and Sexuality.” However, Davis admitted her mother wasn’t a huge fan of Samantha’s sexual escapades on the show. Davis herself was even shocked by some storylines — especially when Samantha had her lesbian relationship. Sounds like it wasn’t always easy for someone like Davis to be on such a risqué show!
After a Sex and the City scene, Magnolia Bakery got so popular it had to employ a bouncer
We all remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie and Miranda grabbed cupcakes in the West Village. You probably even know the name of the bakery — Magnolia.
As a local New Yorker wrote in The Telegraph, the small bakery became overrun with Sex and the City fans after having one little cameo on the show. “Not long after the episode was broadcast, the tourists started to arrive and the bakery started charging them if they wanted to take photographs of Carrie and co’s favorite haunt,” she wrote. She went on to describe how, even after the show ended, the tourists kept on coming, leaving “half-eaten cupcakes” in the garbage can outside her house. Eventually, the bakery even hired security staff to stop fans from barging in.
One security guard wrote his own account of the Magnolia phenomenon for The Billfold. Apparently, the staff, like the shop’s neighbors, were annoyed by the fans. As he put it, “If you bought a cupcake from Magnolia, there is a high probability that the person behind the counter hated your guts.” Yikes — if that doesn’t disillusion you about the famous cupcake scene, we don’t know what will!
Yes, the Sex and the City stars actually ate all that brunch food
While fashion was a hugely important element of the show, there was another, equally important thing that appeared in every episode without fail — food! Many actors avoid eating food while filming, as, with multiple takes, actors can end up eating way too much. However, for the Sex and the City cast, it was a different story.
As Sarah Jessica Parker once said, “I always ate the food.” She explained, “I don’t like food to sit in front of an actor and for it to not be eaten. It’s silly.” She went on to say that she and Cynthia Nixon saw eating the food as part of their job. “We didn’t need fancy food, we ate whatever could be made quickly — you don’t want to be ordering caviar!” she joked to Cosmopolitan. Wow, we’re seriously impressed that these actors literally swallowed their pride and ate what they had to for the sake of the show!
Kim Cattrall initially turned down her Sex and the City role
It’s safe to say that Sex and the City would be totally different without Kim Cattrall as Samantha, the most sexually liberated of the four women. However, it turns out, Cattrall wasn’t initially too keen on the show. On an episode of Life Stories, the actress told Piers Morgan, “I think I was scared. I think that at 41, I didn’t know if I could pull it off.” Apparently, she was terrified that the ageism in Hollywood would paint her as “an older woman” who was “preying on younger men.” She ended up turning down the role three times before the production team finally convinced her to sign on, according to Digital Spy.
Eventually, Cattrall said goodbye to the world of Sex and the City for good. In 2017, Cattrall turned down a third Sex and the City film. As she told Piers Morgan, “That was part of turning 60.” Her decision caused a huge reaction online, but Cattrall stuck to her decision. She also added, “I feel that the show is the best when it was the series and the bonus was the two movies.” Fair enough! We’re actually pretty proud of Cattrall knowing when to call it quits.
Sarah Jessica Parker kept almost all of her Sex and the City character's clothes
For many of us, the idea of having just one outfit from Sex and the City would be a total dream come true. The show was filled with wild clothing items and some truly inspirational outfits (via Bustle).
At New York’s Vulture Festival, Sarah Jessica Parker revealed that she actually got to keep around 95 percent of what she wore on the show, as reported by Hello! magazine. “I have it all,” she said. She explained that the clothes serve as a way to remember the show, rather than as everyday wear: “I don’t touch it or wear it, but all of that is really meaningful.” Apparently, Parker even got to keep her “Carrie” necklace. “I love it and it’s tucked away somewhere safe,” the star gushed.
It’s so cool to think that all of Carrie’s incredible outfits are being carefully persevered by Parker. It definitely feels like the right way to commemorate the show.
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