In honor of the 20th Anniversary of Sex and The City, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sex and the City and Us author Jennifer K. Armstrong. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is best known for her work in entertainment journalism, boasting a decade-long career at Entertainment Weekly and authoring the New York Times bestseller Seinfeldia: How the Show About Nothing Changed Everything; a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted; and Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love.
Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love is a story of how a columnist, two gay men, and a writers’ room full of women used their own poignant, hilarious, and humiliating stories to launch a cultural phenomenon. They endured shock, slut-shaming, and a slew of nasty reviews on their way to eventual—if often begrudging—respect. The show wasn’t perfect, but it revolutionized television for women.
Choupette Social Girl: Do you remember your initial response and memory of seeing the first episode of SATC?
Jennifer K. Armstrong: “I wish I did. I thought about this when I was doing the book but it gets a bit fuzzy. I know I was into the show pretty early but I can’t say I have a specific memory sitting down and watching it. Like the reaction everyone who worked on the show had [in the beginning], we didn’t really know it’d end up to be this huge thing. The first episode is not what the show would become.”
CSG: The book is packed with so much information and endless interviews. What was your writing and information gathering process and were there any humorous or memorable interview moments?
JKA: “I have done a couple of these books now. There is a process I have developed but it still feels chaotic every time. I usually rewatch the show in chronological order. While I am doing that, I am gathering as much information as I can online, at libraries, etc. Then, I throw out requests to people I’d like to interview to see who sticks.
Everything Michael Patrick King said was a little shocking. That’s his genius. I have so many quotes in the book where I thought, “I can’t believe I’m going to write this right now”. Like when he called Greg Burns to come in and tell everyone what pussy tastes like. I knew I had to put it in [the book] but oh my god!”
CSG: After writing the book, how has your perspective changed watching the show?
JKA: “I am way more aware of the stories behind the story. Specifically, [knowing about] how the females writers basically had a therapy [session] every day. I sort of knew they used their own lives but not to the extend they did. I believe that’s why the show connects to us so much. It is real stories.”
CSG: If there were a SATC III movie, what unanswered questions would you want addressed?
JKA: “I feel like I’m always bashing Big and I don’t believe they belong together so I’d be curious to what [Carrie] and his relationship would be like now. All they ever talked about on the show was whether they were together or if they were going to break up so now if they are still married, what is that like now? I really hope Charlotte and Harry are still together because they are my favorite. They are the opposite of Carrie and Big for me. I am genuinely interested in how [the characters] are doing in long-term relationships in middle age.”
CSG: The million dollar questions: Aiden or Big?
JKA: “I don’t think she should’ve ended up with Aiden either. He seems like a fine person but I don’t think they fit together. I honestly sort of wish she had ended the series alone or with the prospect of a new person. I really loved her relationship with Berger before he was a jerk with the Post-it. He seemed like an equal and they had a banter. It wasn’t the friction with Big or how Aiden was always chasing her.”