Sex and the City has come full circle. Over the weekend, what began as a weekly column in The New York Observer in 1994 racked up $50 million on movie screens across the country, knocking Indiana Jones’ hat off his head.
When Candace Bushnell started the column 14 years ago, there was no telling that her doppelgänger, Carrie, together with Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, would end up recalibrating the lens through which the world viewed New York single life. Candace was simply writing about the life she knew and lived, a life in which a paycheck meant $400 shoes, food and rent be damned. “Welcome to the Age of Un-Innocence,” she wrote. “The glittering lights of Manhattan that served as backdrops for Edith Wharton’s bodice-heaving trysts are still glowing—but the stage is empty. No one has breakfast at Tiffany’s, and no one has affairs to remember—instead, we have breakfast at seven a.m. and affairs we try to forget as quickly as possible. How did we get into this mess?”
Our readers were immediate, passionate consumers of Candace’s late-night archeological dispatches, as new phrases, like gumdrops from some newfangled candy machine, were rolled around on the tongue. Suddenly New York males had to worry about being tagged as “toxic bachelors,” a sin only absolved through purchasing the offended paramour a pair of strappy sandals from some guy named Manolo Blahnik. And when it came to the women, well, as she wrote about Samantha: “If you’re a successful single woman in this city, you have two choices: You can beat your head against the wall trying to find a relationship, or you can say ‘screw it’ and just go out and have sex like a man. Thus: Samantha.” But when Candace was introduced one night to a charming, high-rolling executive, it wasn’t long before she introduced our readers to Mr. Big.
And then the great gust of wind that lifted the column off the page and onto TV screens across the country and around the world came blowing down from HBO’s offices on Sixth Avenue. Now, ambitious young women arrive in Manhattan having literally been raised on Sex and the City, dressed to kill and armed with a quiver of tart-tongued arrows aimed at the hearts of New York men. The success of the column, the TV series and now the movie confirms what America and the world knows: When it comes to wit, sex and style, New York is the center of the universe.