And just like that… I’m sharing thoughts on the next chapter of the Sex and the City franchise

…and just like that: Carrie and her pals have finished their latest run on the small screen.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since the latest installment of the SATC franchise drew to a close, so you may argue I’m a bit late to the party in terms of sharing what I thought about it. Not so. I’ve merely decided to sit back, think about what I saw for a bit first rather than just react.

What I liked

  • Fashion moments: Of course fashion was going to be on here; it’s part of the franchise’s charactet! I use the term ‘moments’ because there were a lot of looks I didn’t care for. But hey, fashion is subjective! My personal fashion highlight wpuld be that UNREAL orange moment on the Paris bridge – it was a quintessential Carrie Bradshaw look for finally saying goodbye to Big and reclaiming her sense of self as single woman.
  • Big’s early departure: For me, this hit the same way that Scream did when they killed off Drew Barrymore’s character in the first scene – unexpected twist that grips you into thinking “jeez, wtf else could happen after that? Better keep watching”. And, to be honest, there hasn’t been a single part of the SATC yet where Carried and Big have sailed through without something, has there? It took 6 series of making up and breaking up, the first film where he jilted her and she cut him out until then very end, the second film where she had insecurities and ended up kissing Aiden in Abu Dabi. Did we we really predict that they’d make it through this part of the story unscathed?

What didn’t work for me

Image credit: New York Post
  • Lack of development for the secondary friendships: for really the first time in the franchise, we saw main characters pursue and develop friendships outside of the group. But, for the majority of time at keast, those relationships didn’t really progress or be pivotal to the overall series. Dare I say that they appeared to be present merely to tick a few more boxes in helping to make the show more well-rounded? Not simply because of any ethnic representation, but to enhance the traits of those they were attached to. Seema was single in her 50s and struggling with it like Carrie. Lisa/LTW feeds into Charlotte’s image of being a ‘have it all and look effortless’ aspiration whilst still be human and having some wobbles behind the scenes. Nya represents the side of Miranda that’s studious and questioning over their life choices (in this case, having a child).
  • Miranda flip flopping her opinions: She was against pot, then it was fine providing she didn’t directly smoke it. She cheated on her husband when she used to find infidelity deplorable. She didn’t want to be in a conventional relationship but then tried to put herself in one. She wanted to study and help people with her legal knowledge but gave it up to support Che’s career ambitions in LA. She let her hair go grey (which I thought looked great, by the way) and was sticking 2 fingers up at societal pressure for women to “age gracefully”, but dies it back red at the end. I have some more thoughts and theories in the next section that help me rationalise some of her behaviour, but as a passive viewer wanting some light entertainment, it was kinda frustrating.
  • Brady’s sex scene: no, No, NO! Firstly, teenagers don’t have the knowledge or skill to be that gymnastic in the bedroom. I was a teenager once, I knew other teenagers, not a single one of us knew a male our age who had the sexual prowess of young Brady. It was also highly unnecessary – the show isn’t called sex and the city so sex wasn’t implied.

What I feel came under undue criticism

  • Miranda leaving Steve: As an OG SATC fan, this kind of didn’t surprise me, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone really. Throughout their relationship Miranda has had bouts of uncertainty  about subscribing to the traditional paradigms of marriage and family life – she didn’t want to have children, have her child baptised, get married or buy a house outside of Manhattan. After submitting to all of those thing eventually, at some point she was always likely to swing back round and have some kind of self crisis about what her life had become. I read another article that described Miranda as Steve’s Mr Big in that he was always chasing after her as the not quite attainable figure to fit his ideal of the perfect life, and I can get on board with that. With regards to the cheating, a lot of people have levied claims of hypocrisy at Miranda as she got upset when Steve did it to her in the first film. Reading into this like the English/American Studies grad that I am; it could be argued that Steve’s prior indiscretion had altered her previous attitudes on fidelity and she now feels it can be justified if your relationship is unfulfilled. Steve wasn’t getting enough sex so he boinked a random, she felt unfulfilled and banged Carrie’s boss in the kitchen.
  • The main characters not having a firm grasp of modern day protocol: as hard as a lot of people try to be respectful of pronouns, sexuality and religion, we’re human and sometimes we get it wrong. It’s perfectly feasible that women in their mid-50s who haven’t had exposure to that kind of diversity before aren’t going to get it on the first go. But we saw the maim characters try to educate themselves in the best manner they knew how. I personally found this aspect of the show relatable; even though I’m 20 years younger I’ve shared a lot of the same thoughts and experiences. If the main characters would have had everything spot on throughout series, writers/producers would’ve been criticised for not portraying an authentic experience of that generation.

Overall, I liked the series. Yes there were some bumps along the way (as many a good series have experienced before it) but be fair – its the first season of a show based on another show from the nineties trying to be relevant in the modern day whilst trying to stay true to the original heart and sole of the  brand. Its a tough sell, one that was always going to disappoint someone.

So I couldn’t help but wonder: what’s next for ‘…And just like that’?

I think the show will ‘carrie’ on to a second series. I think we may start to see one of those secondary character’s come into the fold more as a main character to bring back more of a foursome dynamic (I’m liking Seema for this as she has a Samantha Jones energy about her).

I think we’ll see more of Carrie as she really starts to navigate her way through the dating scene again in her 50s (I don’t know if I see her staying with the hot producer guy but I would love it if she did) and how she combines her current experiences with her new podcast¬† which I think will become more like her column and start to gain traction amongst some of her OG readers as well as younger new listeners.

I think that Miranda could have another crisis of confidence after returning from LA with Che; having put her goals on pause for somebody she loves and now questioning ‘what about me?’. I don’t think there’ll be anything groundbreaking happening for Charlotte, I think we’ll just see more of her going about her business and being Charlotte.

Finally, I predict we won’t be seeing a re-cast of Samantha. After Carrie meets her for cocktails in Paris they’ll start to rekindle their friendship and continue their text relationship, which will become more frequent. Carrie will try and lean on Samantha to do more, to be more – come back to New York or be on her podcast etc, and that will refracture the relationship a little bit.

So that’s me, keeping an balance mind and optimistic heart for the franchise to continue.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

Location, location, location or impractical, unrealistic and impetuous?

I’m sure you’ve heard about Kirsty Allsopp’s recent comments on young people buying a property. If you’re not inclined to read the article, lemme break it down for you:

  • Kirsty stated that young people could easily afford to buy a property if they cut out luxury expenses such as Netflix, gym membership, coffee and going on holiday
  • Kirsty believes that we’ve fallen into a trap of saying buying a property is impossible for everybody, when it’s more a case of ‘where’ you can buy, not ‘if’ you can buy
  • Kirsty herself bought a property at age 21 with family help whilst living in an era of 15% interest rates, low salaries and modest expectations of lifestyle

So is she right?

I have many, many opinions on this that are all very differing! But first, a bit of context – I spent a large portion of my career working in financial services (some of which was as a mortgage adviser) and am pretty cautious about budgeting/spending most of the time. However, like Kirsty, I bought my first home at age 22 with help from my family whilst earning a fairly low salary. I also live in the Hull/East Yorkshire area, which is widely touted as one of the most affordable places to live in the UK.

There’s a lot to unpack within Kirsty’s comments, so I’m going to take them point by point. A reminder that these are my personal opinions; based on research I’ve done on this case, my industry knowledge and the experiences of myself and those around me.

1. People could afford to buy a property if they cut out luxury expenses

So, to read that as a standalone statement is arguably 100% correct. If we’re trying to buy something expensive and we’re not the secret millionaire, we need to budget and save to do so. We know this. But, if we taking a deeper dive, the examples and generalisation of the comments are where some of the argument starts to unravel.

I think that Kirsty could’ve been trying (not very successfully you might argue) to levy her comments at a group I’d refer to as “champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget”. These are the folks who curate an image of an outwardly ostentatious existence – head to toe designer attire, VIP table at the hottest nightspots, driving a top of the range car and jetting off to the latest trendy destination. All of which, is documented on social media. Potentially spending all of their disposable income in a manner that in no way contributes towards being a future homeowner. And that’s their choice to make. Everybody has their own set of priorities, and for some this doesn’t include owning their own home from a young age (or maybe at all). There are many places around the world where renting for the long term is a standard practice and view the innate desire to buy a home as quite unusual. Maybe some young people just want to have a few years of being young; going out, making memories and learning a bit about the world, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The main misfire what Kirsty’s saying is the examples she’s used when describing luxury items – streaming services, coffe-shop coffee, gym memberships and holidays. These are things many of us have and do, but not always to excess, and are things most people would re-assess or reduce if they were saving to buy a property already. However, I geuinely believe that completely cutting everything “non-essential” is not only unrealistic but unhealthy. Going to work day in, day out and not having ANY kind of release to relax and enjoy your downtime a little? Because that’s all it is in a lot of circumstances, a little bit. As I said earlier, everyone has priorities – for some this means hitting the gym a few times a week, a weekly coffee date with pals or having an hour with your family each evening to watch your favourite Netflix series. All experiences that contribute towards having a happier and more fulfilling life. A house should be the icing on the cake to your life, if it’s what you want, not your whole reason for being.

My personal opinion has always been this – what’s the point in buying a house if all you can afford to do is sit in it?

2. It’s not a case of “if” you can afford to buy, but “where”

Again, the statement said by itself does hold a ring of truth. I know lots of people who have bought their first property in an area they can afford rather than the one they would prefer to live in. Their priority was to get on the property ladder as soon as possible, so to them it was a sacrifice they were happy to make. But, being from a very affordable area of the UK, the difference in location was very short. In other areas of the UK, it be not be quite so simple. There are other things to consider in when you’ve move – the location of your support network, your place of employment and how you can get to and from the places you need to. If you rely on family for childcare and they live 50 miles away, is a change of area likely to be feasible? I have an example of this in my own family. 3 years ago, my mother decided to move to the next county. There, she was able to buy a large property for much less than it would’ve cost where she lived before. The new property is 20 miles away, across a large bridge and hidden in the depths of the countryside, vs the 5 miles away she was before. She’s the primary carer for a family member who, in the event of an emergency (and there have been a few since she upped sticks) is now a 45 minute drive away with the risk that the bridge could close in the event of damage ir bad weather. That move, although it seems minor on paper, has caused difficulty within the family support network that she’s part of.

3. Buying a property with family help

Simply put, It’s just not that easy. I’m know that I was fortunate to have had help to buy my first home, and I’m very aware that it’s not something everybody is afforded. Some families can’t afford to help, some may not want to help.

And it’s not just getting on the property ladder; its making sure you can afford to live there too. Once you’ve bought the house there’s monthly bills to pay, furniture to buy and the cost of fixing things that break, such as the boiler.

In conclusion – I think that Kirsty’s comments were a bit too general and lacking in any context to the present day experience of being a young person or buying a home. My understanding is that the people she helps on TV are presented to her and ready to go: deposit saved, know what they can afford and a set of criteria for her to work with. Perhaps it would be advisable for her to concentrate on the area that she’s the expert in and leave the financial and mortgage advice to those expert in that area.

My final thoughts are these: it’s not your age, it’s your stage. There’s no set age by which you need to have bought your first home, getting married, have kids or do anything life changing. Why rush into the most expensive purchase of your life just to keep up with an imaginary timeline of what your choices should look like by a certain point? Goals are great but make them to suit YOUR life and YOUR terms, then make the best decisions you can to help you achieve them.

Thanks for reading,

J xx