Why we care so much about Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall’s falling out

Elise Solé

The Sarah Jessica ParkerKim Cattrall feud has reached a new level of obsession, with super fans taking sides between the beloved Sex and the City actresses.

Parker’s Divorce co-star Molly Shannon even jumped into the fray, telling Entertainment Tonight on Saturday, “Sarah is just so supportive and so wonderful and we just get along so well. It doesn’t really feel like work because we have so much in common, and she loves funny women and is just so genuinely supportive and kind, and like a ‘girls’ girl.’ So, I just feel lucky that I get to work with her.”

The schism between SATC enthusiasts started on Friday, days after Cattrall’s brother Christopher passed away. The actress who played Samantha Jones on the hit HBO show thanked fans for their support on Instagram, then turned her attention to Parker.

“My Mom asked me today ‘When will that @sarahjessicaparker, that hypocrite, leave you alone?’” wrote Cattrall, in a post that received almost 58K likes. “Your continuous reaching out is a painful reminder of how cruel you really were then and now. Let me make this VERY clear. (If I haven’t already) You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your ‘nice girl’ persona.”

Cattrall, 61, also posted a link to an October story published in the New York Post titled “Inside the mean-girls culture that destroyed Sex and the City” detailing the show’s behind-the-scenes drama.

One week prior, Parker, who played Carrie Bradshaw, announced that the third Sex and the City movie had been canceled, telling Extra, “I’m disappointed. We had this beautiful, funny, heartbreaking, joyful, very relatable script,” on the same day an explosive Daily Mail article ran detailing Cattrall’s “outrageous” work demands, which reportedly led to the film’s cancellation.

Cattrall denied the rumors in a tweet that day, calling the drama a “s***storm,” and in a subsequent interview with Piers Morgan called out Parker. “And this is really where I take to task the people from ‘Sex and The City’ and specifically Sarah Jessica Parker in that I think she could have been nicer. I really think she could have been nicer….’I don’t know what her issue is, I never have.”

Cue reports of tension between the two women, some resurfacing from a decade past: Cattrall was irked by Parker’s enormous salary and her no-nudity contract clause despite Cattrall having to disrobe in many scenes, with the collective strife ostracizing Cattrall from Parker, and co-stars Cynthia Nixon, and Kristen Davis.

We’ve all heard of actors who don’t get along with their co-stars, but the Parker-Cattrall story transcends run-of-the-mill gossip, in part because SATC revolutionized female friendships, flipping stereotypes that the female bond is fraught with jealousy, providing a feminist take on sexual pleasure — and permission to dish all the details.

Still, the show ended 14 years ago. Why are fans so rocked by the actresses’ fall-out?

The Sex and the City cast together during happier times. (Photo: Getty Images)

One reason, says Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Bethany Marshall, is that Sex and the City was a form of identification for many. “Identifying with other people is how we learn and locate our place in life and the show provided examples, solutions, and happy endings for people navigating friendship and dating,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The show was a cultural awakening and to learn there was trouble behind the scenes can feel disillusioning or even like a betrayal.”

Female friends are also a crucial part of social structure, says Marshall, and represent an unconditional love unmatched by romantic relationships. “Often times, women confide in their best friends before their partners,” she points out.

Identifying with role models is a positive developmental process, but when people like celebrities or television characters are idealized, their missteps can feel extra crushing.

Ultimately,  we can celebrate Sex and the City regardless of its IRL drama. “The show has an important place in history,” says Marshall, “and we can still have faith in its ideals and messages, even if they’re not upheld by Kim and Sarah.”

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