'Sex and the City' Subtly Addressed the 9/11 Tragedy

No one expected the tragic events that happened on September 11, 2001. Everyone had to process what took place and figure out how to adjust, and this also included television.

Quite a few shows on air at the time took place in New York City, and they either addressed the tragedy or did so in a very subtle way. Sex and the City was one of the shows on air at the time, and according to Marie Claire, the show was one that gently addressed what had happened by changing the opening credits. 

What is ‘Sex and the City’ about?

The show is about sex columnist and fashionista Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her three best friends, Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall). Together the three explore relationships and dating in New York City.

While the show focuses on the women’s romantic relationships, it is also about the bond the four women share and how they are always there for each other. The show, created by Darren Star, originally aired on HBO from 1998 to 2004. It was also inspired by Candace Bushnell’s nonfiction book with the same name. 

How the show addressed the tragedy

Up until season four, episode 12, the opening credits of Sex and the City showed the twin towers twice. One view of the Manhattan skyline includes the buildings, and then there’s a close up with Sarah Jessica Parker’s name.

After the 9/11 tragedy, the show’s creators decided to change the opening sequence to show the Empire State Building instead. In episode 13 of season four, Vulture also points out that Samantha and her love interest at the time, Richard Wright (James Remar), dance on a rooftop that showed the twin towers in the background, and the show removed them from this scene as well.

In addition to this, the season four finale is about changes and new beginnings. At the end of the episode, Carrie states in a voice-over, “seasons change, so do cities.” Then there is a dedication, saying, “dedicated to our city of New York… then, now, and forever.”

Other shows that addressed 9/11

The West Wing: According to The Wrap, The West Wing creator and showrunner Aaron Sorkin wrote a specific episode about a fictional terrorist attack, which aired three after the 9/11 attacks. 

Law and Order: the show had many episodes that revolved around the attacks. One in which a woman’s remains were left at Ground Zero as a way to cover up a murder.

Third Watch: this show about New York City’s first responders aired a nonfiction episode, followed by two episodes showing its main characters helping with the aftermath.

The Sopranos: like Sex and the City, Bustle pointed out that the Sopranos also had the twin towers in the opening credits. They were shown briefly in Tony Soprano’s review mirror. After 9/11, the show edited the towers out, and another shot of the Manhattan skyline was used as a replacement.

Another show that was on air and took place in New York City at the time was Friends. The show did not directly address the tragedy, and an article by Digital Spy discusses why.

Executive producer and director Kevin S Bright explained the show wasn’t a topical one. Still, they wanted to comfort their audiences by trying to be funnier than the show has been. The show also made very subtle nods, like placing an American flag in the coffee shops.

In addition to this, the season eight premiere episode was dedicated to “the people of New York City.” They also had to edit out a scene in the third episode of the eighth season, in which chandler made a joke at the airport about a bomb.

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