HBO has had countless hit shows over the years, but few have had the big cultural impact of Sex and the City. The raunchy dramedy series became a sensation that inspired two movies as well as the current spinoff And Just Like That. There are generations of diehard fans of the show, and that includes none other than actor-writer-producer Billy Eichner. And the Bros star explained why SATC showing a gay bar on TV “felt so radical” at the time, and how the series ultimately impacted his career.
Sex and the City premiered back in 1998, before it became commonplace to see queer stories play out on the small screen. Combine that with how sexually powerful the four women were, and it was a show unlike any other on the air. Billy Eichner wrote an essay for People about how the show impact him when it was originally airing, specifically related to LGBTQ+ characters like Willie Garson’s Stanford Blatch. In his words:
My earliest Sex and the City memory is that I was home from college, flicking channels and I remember watching an episode or two. It was the episode where Stanford goes to a gay bar in his underwear. You did not see many shows at that point that had scenes at gay bars, let alone with guys standing in their underwear for Underwear Night. The fact that Stanford was going to gay bars felt so radical and really pulled me in.
Some serious points were made. While Stanford wasn’t one of the four main Sex and the City characters, he got a number of iconic sequences during the show’s original run on HBO. Offering a (mostly) authentic view of gay life in New York City, we saw him in a real queer space like Barracuda bar, and attending events like an underwear party. And that instantly made Billy Eichner a fan during the show’s run on HBO.
Eichner’s personal story about SATC is made all the more powerful considering that Stanford actor Willie Garson died in 2021. There are no doubt plenty of LBGTQ+ fans out there who feel that special connection to his character for the way queerness was portrayed on the show.
Later in that same essay, Billy Eichner revealed that his fandom for Sex and the City actually helped Billy on the Street’s development. What’s more, the Carrie/Mr. Big relationship was something that inspired Eichner while writing Bros. In his words:
Sex and the City is really one of the great modern romantic comedies, even though it's a series. It’s that mix of fantasy and reality, which is what the great romantic comedies are. It definitely inspired Bros, not only in the way that we romanticize New York City, which has always been a classic location for romantic comedies, but as we developed the script. We talked about the Carrie Bradshaw-Mr. Big dynamic being one of the inspirations for the way that we built my character Bobby, and the unique unexpected chemistry he has with Luke [Macfarlane]'s character, Aaron.
Luckily for Sex and the City fans like Eichner and myself, many of our favorite characters returned for And Just Like That, which is available with a Max subscription. Although there have been some exceptions, like Kim Cattrall’s Samantha who is noticeably absent. But Cattrall will cameo in AJLT’s Season 2 finale.
Since And Just Like That was recently renewed for Season 3, maybe the streaming hit will have a role for Billy Eichner. It seems like a full circle moment for him to appear, even just as himself. Fingers crossed.
And Just Like That airs Thursdays on Max, where the original Sex and the City is streaming. Be sure to check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch.