Candace Bushnell launched a phenomenon when she published “Sex and the City,” her 1997 anthology of New York Observer columns, which were adapted into the massively successful HBO series (which in turn spawned two movies). Her follow-up, “Is There Still Sex in the City?” isn’t out yet, but it’s already been snapped up by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content to be transformed into a series.
So is this a replacement for that third “Sex and the City” movie that was unceremoniously scrapped? (Thanks a lot, Kim Cattrall.) Not exactly. Don’t expect Sarah Jessica Parker or a resurgence of the “Are you a Carrie or a Samantha?” debate. (Besides, you’re a Miranda. It’s time to be honest with yourself.)
The book “Is There Still Sex in the City?” which comes out in August, is another collection of essays, this time dealing with the lives of the over-50 set. But “The Golden Girls” this is not. There’s no time to retire to the lanai when these characters — looking for love in the big city — are so busy testing the waters on Tinder, sleeping around, starting new businesses and doing unprintable things to keep certain body parts looking youthful.
Bushnell has had other books turned into television series, but none as popular as her first. “Lipstick Jungle” — a 2008 series based on the 2005 book — and “The Carrie Diaries” (a 2010 young adult novel turned 2014 CW series) were both canceled after two seasons.
But the television landscape is very different these days. With the advent of streaming services, there’s a feeding frenzy for fresh content (or what used to be called stories), which is why every day there’s a new alert about a book getting a Netflix adaptation. The upshot is that there’s now a greater diversity of programming so, while 10 years ago a book about the sex lives of 50-somethings — even one by Candace Bushnell — might not have had a prayer of getting adapted, these days there’s a competitive bidding war to snap up rights.
Paramount Television has had considerable success with other adaptations. The company co-produced the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” (also with Anonymous Content) and “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” plus Amazon’s “Jack Ryan.” (Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) They also have adaptations of “Catch-22,” “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” and “The Vampire Chronicles” in the works.
Does that mean this new series will rise to the level of “Sex and the City”? It’s hard to imagine replicating that kind of cultural touchstone, especially in today’s fragmented market. But does Bushnell, who is writing the pilot for the series, have a shot at creating something entertainingly recap-worthy? Abso-ahem-lutely.