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And just like that, another chapter of “Sex and the City” is over.
Simply put, this HBO Max revival — which was minus one Samantha and added a lot of new faces — has divided a fandom. (HBO Max, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.)
“And Just Like That…” was never going to please everyone. That’s just how TV goes. But even those who still prefer to forget the existence of the much-panned films couldn’t have predicted the pure volume of hot takes and chilly tweets that this show would inspire week after week.
The loudest critics of the revival will say they’ve continued the 10-episode journey in the form of hate watching, tuning in weekly knowing that they’ll be bothered by any number of characters or plot points. But I’d argue most have continued because of something stronger — Sunk Cost Streaming.
“Sex and the City” loyalists have invested too much time, energy, tears and laughs to just walk away. We’re in a committed relationship with Carrie and Co. And because we care, we can’t help but wonder until the very end: Can they get it right?
Everyone’s answer will be different, but in the end, here’s my take on the best – and not-so-best – parts of “And Just Like That…”:
Wonder(ful) women – Part of me looks at characters like single realtor Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury), fabulous Park Avenue mom Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) and professor Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman) with such sadness. In the original series, any of these women could have carried the meaty storylines of a main cast member season after season.
It’s a shame this New York City-set world waited so long to literally and figuratively invite women of color to take a seat at the high top, and having them debut in a season where many other storylines had to be served, I feel they were short-changed. Lisa was introduced in a scene in which she ate Carrie’s leftover french fries, and I haven’t been able to erase the visual from my mind since. This glamorous gazelle deserves a main course. In fact, I wouldn’t mind continuing to see more of any of their journeys.
Charlotte York Goldenblatt – Of all the characters, Charlotte was by far the one who seemed like she’d actually lived through the last decade. Yes, she’d experienced it from her million-dollar home, but that’s who she is. Every scene and every line of hers felt ripped from the original show – none perhaps more so than the scene at Lisa’s house when she took a long, impressive dive into the reasons her friend’s art collection was an incredible investment, defending Lisa against her mother-in-law’s criticisms.
It was classic Charlotte – smart, sweet, supportive when it matters, and yes, Carrie, a little smug. (Supportive Charlotte also shined through in the storyline involving her child’s desire to explore their gender identity and be referred to by they/them pronouns.) More than anyone else on the show, Charlotte 2022 came across like that special person in your life who evolves but never changes, in the best way.
How it handled grief – The first episodes of “And Just Like That…” were by no means easy to watch. You can debate all day long whether they should have killed Big. (Honestly, considering the off-screen drama, the producers are probably happy they did.) But you can’t question that Carrie’s grief was portrayed raw and real. It served as a reminder that in the grand scheme of life, although Post-It note breakups sting, they are really just paper cuts compared to real pain.
Che Diaz, the concept – Miranda’s love affair with Carrie’s podcasting boss will go down in “SATC” history as one of the most polarizing storylines in the franchise. On paper, this could have been a real smash of a storyline: Miranda, in a marriage more dead than Big (sorry, Steve), explores a relationship with a bold, non-binary breath of fresh air. Wonderful! The problem, for me, was how they chose to bring this character to life. Which brings me to…
Che Diaz, the character – I’m not in a place to speak on behalf of any community of which I am not a part, so I will refrain from going too deep on some points here. But everything about Rock (Alexa Swinton), Charlotte and Harry’s child, was handled with such grace, which is what made Che Diaz, who is nonbinary, an incredibly jarring presence. Che (Sara Ramirez), a self-described narcassist and so-called comedian, is in many ways the kind of toxic figure I’ve tried to steer my friends away from for a long time. The character triggered my friend radar – beep, beep, this person sucks, beep, beep, retreat, save friend.
When portraying any member of an underrepresented community, perfection is not the expectation, but there’s a responsibility to make it count. When you don’t see yourself on screen a lot – where my fellow Latinx at? – you want to feel like the portrayals mean something. On a platform as big as the “Sex and the City” franchise, it’s hard to see Che as anything other than a gigantic missed opportunity at best and a giant middle finger at worst.
Miranda Hobbes – Miranda’s greatest offense in this revival wasn’t living her truth; it was not being truthful. I remember wondering mid-way through what I’d missed in the last 10 years that turned Miranda, the woman who respected a culture enough to learn Arabic before a trip to Abu Dhabi, into a person who doesn’t respect her very decent husband enough to tell him the truth about where she’s at emotionally.
If Charlotte was the character equivalent of finding your favorite pair of designer heels still fit like a glove, Miranda is that pair of boots you find in the back of your closet that over time have become unrecognizable as something that you once liked. When Miranda called Carrie from a cab and declared, “I’m in a rom-com!,” I paused the episode to cringe. “No, Miranda,” I thought, “you’re in a tragedy.” She would have been better served as a vehicle for a story about true recovery from alcoholism than … whatever this was.
Brady Hobbes – I know the subplot about Brady and his girlfriend’s boundary-less sex life died off after the first few episodes, but I wish it never existed. It set a terrible tone for the series. Someone should have put this storyline on a Peloton.
How they handled Samantha’s absence – We all know Kim Cattrall had no desire to take part in “And Just Like That…,” which is a decision its producers had no choice but to respect and work with. They certainly tried their best, but the idea that the women’s relationship fell apart over a petty dispute was the hardest pill to swallow. That, and who tells their grieving widow friend that you will talk to them “soon” when she asks to speak with you? Not the Samantha I know. Thankfully, we can imagine Carrie and Samantha mending fences in Paris, per the finale. The problem with that? If “And Just Like That…” has any plans for yet another chapter, there’s no doing it without Samantha. (I won’t hold my breath for her return.)
The very best
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon – Before watching every new episode of “And Just Like That…,” I felt the same knots in my stomach that I get before getting on a roller coaster or walking down wet stairs in high heels. That doesn’t happen if you aren’t deeply invested in something. Like it or not, “Sex and the City” lovers, you haven’t been hate watching – you’ve been care watching. And we care because Parker, Davis and Nixon have embodied their characters so fully, so second-naturedly, that each woman and their life feels real.
We’re angry at Miranda, we wanted Carrie to pick up the phone faster to call an ambulance, we cringed when Charlotte made a shameful mistake at a dinner party. They are incredible talents who’ve told decades of story through three distinct pairs of eyes, and for that, we can’t be anything but grateful.
As we’ve learned, it’s crucial to enjoy a ride while it is happening, because it can be over just like that.