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And just like that … the series hit a nerve

January 20th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

The girls are back - sans Samantha, but their concerns and struggles still reflect those of their original audience.

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As the Sex and the City  follow-up draws to a close, our editor Siobhán Cronin recalls the attraction of the ground-breaking series, during which she was writing a singles column, jetting to France for lunch, and frequenting vintage shops. No wonder the Gen-Xer loved the original

AND just like that … the fab four were back. Scratch that … And just like the fab four, one was missing.

Yes, Samantha may have done a ‘Lennon’ on it,  but that hasn’t stopped the terrific trio ploughing on without their sexy siren.

The critics have given a mixed reaction to the return of the Sex and the City girls, but those of us who felt our Irish lives of the nineties had found a mirror in Manhattan, have found plenty to recognise in this season, too.

Miranda’s struggles with the ‘woke’ generation, Carrie – always happy to talk about sex with her friends – struggles now to share her intimacies with the podcast generation, and then there’s Charlotte negotiating life with a husband and challenging teenagers. Mix them all together and you have us fiftysomethings, the Generation Xers.

What many critics didn’t spot, however, was why SATC had found such a very loyal audience in Ireland, and not just because we swooned over its witty lines, great clothes and locations, but because – as with Samantha’s one-liners – the timing, for us, was perfect.

It landed towards the end of the noughties – we had come through the depressing eighties as teens, grown into confident young women in the early nineties and had landed the big city jobs just as Ireland, itself, was growing into the sophisticated upstart of Europe.

For me, personally, there were so many similarities, it was verging on creepy.

A few series in, the Celtic Tiger was beginning to take hold here. I had landed a senior role in a national paper in Dublin and my features editor suggested I write a weekly column on what seemed to him, I suspect, a ridiculously glamorous life. And so, ‘Single File’ was born, with just one brief: tell it like it is.

Those were certainly the days of vulgar excess in Ireland – and an endless stream of front row seats to concerts, theatre, corporate launches and chic nightclubs. Remember those heady days when nightclubs were constantly opening – not closing?

I even found a photo of me sprawled across a table in a short-lived club called ‘Sin’ in Temple Bar – kind of summing up the whole ethos of the era.

In between champagne-fuelled perfume launches, long liquid business lunches, and shopping weekends in European capitals with like-minded friends, we had to rush home once a week to keep an eye on the goings and (literal) comings of our like-minded souls in New York.

And, like Carrie, we couldn’t really afford the lifestyles – but credit cards were a novelty we were encouraged to embrace. And most of us lived to regret.

And yes, it was tawdry at times, but as traumatised children of the eighties, we also embraced a version of that well-worn l’Oreal phrase which originated in the 70s – ‘because we were worth it’.

If I was to sum up the vulgarity of the era it would be in a work trip I was offered just days after starting my ‘glam’ job in the city – I was one of six journalists flown, for lunch, on a private jet to the Champagne region of France for the unveiling of the new range of a well-known spirit. I was back home in Crumlin by 5pm. I don’t think even Carrie could top that!

My own life became something of a parody of what was happening my on-screen compatriots, it seemed. My best male friend was a flamboyant but incredibly witty gay man, and my closest female friend was a veritable partner-in-crime on our legendary nights out.

I once heard a man on a bus reading my column aloud and suggesting our nights out were pure fantasy.

If you’re out there reading this now, mate, let me assure you we did meet two US airforce pilots on a night in The Viper Room on Aston Quay – they did ‘make their excuses’ when we tried to bring them into the legendary Manhattan café for an early breakfast, and my gay buddy did once tell a man he woke up with: ‘You have to go home now, my parents are coming over’ – only to be told: ‘Actually, you are in my house.’

There was just so much we had in common with Carrie et al, it seemed – the unsuitable men, the all-night analysis of that text or phone call, the regrets, the vintage dresses, the yearning for handbags, the rise of cupcakes – hell, we even went to New York and did the Sex and the City tour, during one of those many pre-Christmas shopping trips, of course.

Close to burn out, I opted to bring an end to the newspaper column – weirdly – on the very same week as the last SATC episode aired – so the de rigueur end-of-series watch-party served a dual purpose for myself and my willing protagonists.

We drank so many Cosmopolitans that night that we had to watch the episode again the next day to refresh our memories.

And, yes, during those dizzy years, I did have my own Mr Big. He was a tall, handsome businessman I met in a club  and, like Carrie and Big, we danced around each other for years. And just like that … he’s right here beside me now.

But exercise bikes are banned from our house!

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