Before diving into the show’s six-season evolution (1998-2004), Armstrong takes readers back to Carrie Bradshaw’s beginnings in the pages of the New York Observer ... Armstrong goes deep into the casting, taking us through the surprisingly difficult process of getting the now-famous foursome on air ... While most of Armstrong’s book heaps praise on SATC, she does repeatedly call out its whitewashing. Not only were the four main characters white, but the world they existed in was, too ... The writers and producers of the show are stars in this story as much as the actors, particularly the two at the helm: [Darren] Star and Michael Patrick King. Armstrong details how these two gay men created a very feminine universe, eventually hiring a small army of young female screenwriters to help ... The writing is fizzy and funny, but she still manages an in-depth look at a show that’s been analyzed for decades, giving readers a retrospective as enjoyable as a $20 pink cocktail.
Armstrong’s book is called Sex and the City and Us, though a more accurate title might be Sex and the City and Them. Aside from her intro, it’s shorter on personal anecdotes and cultural criticism, longer on oral history ... The author seems particularly interested in the effect working on Sex and the City had on these women’s lives, and how their writers’ room became a petri dish for the debates Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha would later have over brunch on-screen ... Armstrong’s book is in-depth and insightful, with a fangirl’s reverence for the nitty-gritty of the creative process. She treads delicately around thornier topics, like rumors that have long dogged the series of a rift between Cattrall and her costars, but takes seriously criticisms of Sex and the City’s shortcomings ... Racial diversity, for example, was woefully lacking; the representation of LGBT characters can be cringe-worthy...and the show’s vision of 'choice feminism' reflected the significant privilege of its characters (who can forget the episode in which Charlotte quits her job ahead of trying to get pregnant, senses Miranda’s dismay, and shrieks, 'I choose my choice!').
While we quickly learn that her admiration of the series is hugely personal, at no point does she abandon her job of examining the show and its legacy. And with the help from the series’ creators, writers, actors and viewers, Armstrong takes readers from Candace Bushnell’s column to the show’s inception to the two movies ... She’s present as a writer and as a fan, but removes herself far enough to make no excuses for the series’ embarrassing approach to race and the LGBTQ community ... she examines the long- and short-term effects of the series’ blemishes, and pinpoints what could have been done better ... And honestly, that makes the rest of the book easy and fun to read. Because she proves she’s willing to tell the full story, you genuinely want to follow Armstrong along as she continues to dissect seasons, behind-the-scenes conversations, and opens the door to the writers’ room.
Through interviews with various cast members and writers, including the show’s creator, Darren Star, and executive producer, Michael Patrick King, the author shares vivid stories of the writing process, with particular emphasis on the women writers whose personal dating experiences inspired many of the memorable plotlines. Armstrong is clearly a fan of the show, yet she offers a balanced and insightful perspective of its cultural influence, specifically in relation to our country’s evolving feminist movement ... An entertaining, well-documented consideration of a significant TV series—thoughtful fare for TV historians as well as fans of the show.