Since the series finale in 2004, Sex And The City fans have been voracious for any tidbits on the rest of the story involving Carrie Bradshaw and company (including her highly debated romance with Mr. Big). And while appetites have been satiated with two subsequent feature films and a buzzy upcoming reboot (to debut in December 2021 on HBO Max), if you really want to get the scoop on Bradshaw’s journey who better to ask than Candace Bushnell, author of novel Sex And The City, which inspired the iconic franchise and the real woman behind the character that launched a thousand Manolos.
“I think that’s something that people don’t quite get, is how much Sex And The City comes out of me and my life and the work I’ve been doing since I came to New York at the age of 19,” says the 62-year-old to TZR. Well, fans of the franchise and the author will be able to better understand the correlation thanks to Bushnell’s latest venture, a one-woman show titled Is There Still Sex in the City? (based on her 2019 book of essays of the same name).
Debuting at the Daryl Roth Theatre in Manhattan on Nov 13, the 12-week solo act is “my life story threaded through how I created Sex And The City, why I created Carrie Bradshaw, and what’s the real story with Mr. Big,” she says. (It’s reported that the inspiration for the show’s leading man — played by Chris Noth — was former Vogue and GQ publisher Ron Galotti.) According to Bushnell, the long-standing rollercoaster relationship that played out on the show looked very different in real life. “You know Mr. Big was a part of my life, but wasn’t my life,” she explains. “On the TV show, at a certain point, it becomes all about Mr. Big and [ Is There Still Sex in the City?] is all about becoming your own Mr. Big. So, it’s much more of a feminist take.”
Bushnell is also honest about her personal take on the dysfunctional saga that has been the Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big relationship, which was romanticized and dramatized over the series’ six-season run and subsequent films. “It’s a TV show, right? And it has its own logic,” explains the author. “The reason people make decisions on TV are not the reasons people make decisions in real life [...] The audience is invested in seeing those two characters together. In real life, is it realistic? Probably not. But it’s entertainment, that’s my bottom line.”
In addition to her hot takes on Mr. Big, Bushnell’s off-Broadway show also includes some fun anecdotes and true sexual experiences from her early years in NYC. “There are funny parts, sad parts,” she says. “I think one of the sad parts is the real breakup with Mr. Big. There’s some talk about my real Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda. It’s really about my life story intertwined with how I created Sex And The City.”
In planning the retelling of this journey, Bushnell tapped into some self-reflection about her own relationship with SATC’s iconic leading lady, and got honest about her own personal experiences outside of the Bradshaw scope: “It’s about stepping out from behind these personas and being yourself. It’s also about this surprisingly circular motion of life. We feel like life is just a trajectory, an arrow going in one direction but it’s actually not.”
And while the fictional Carrie Bradshaw was last seen embracing married life (and all its complications), Bushnell’s aforementioned “circular motion” found her re-exploring the concept of dating, which she also touches on in the book version of Is There Still Sex And The City? “That book was really about being over 50, friendship, dating, and this new landscape,” she explains. “So, there are different types of people you’re going to run into and there’s the internet. I think online dating certainly changed things a lot. Pornography changed things a lot. For me, if I’m dating someone, it’s probably going to be kind of old fashioned.”
This new landscape and current social climate will also likely be tackled in the new Sex And The City reboot, which places Bradshaw and the gang (sans Samantha Jones) in a very different climate and age category than even the last time audiences saw them back in 2010. And although Bushnell is not involved in the project, she’s confident it will be very entertaining and a treat for die-hard fans. “I think people still find the characters compelling and their stories interesting,” says Bushnell. “I think we all have these questions about relationships and sex. I mean those are the two things that pretty much everybody’s got to navigate in some form or another.”
As for whether or not she still relates to alter ego Carrie Bradshaw, Bushnell is decidedly on the fence. “I think in some ways I connect to the character,” she says. “But I think these characters have taken on a life of their own. I mean, I say they’re like the characters in the Star Wars franchise [in that] they’ve kind of become larger than life.”