AND JUST LIKE THAT... (2023)
Aired On: Max
Release Date: 06/22/23 - 08/24/23
Comedy. Drama. Romance.
"The series follows Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte as they navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of life and friendship in their 50s."
And just like that, the second coming of Sex and the City came to a (temporary) close. And Just Like That... has been a show that seemed to try a little too hard to both recapture that magic of its original series and infuse itself with a topicality that almost played against itself in just how obvious it was being regarding inclusivity.
Now, that’s not to say that the series was undone by its inclusion of POC cast members and gender fluidity, but it went about announcing them in a “give us a pat on the back” mentality as opposed to mere organic introduction. And whilst it was all a little too easy to criticize the series for aligning its three main white characters – Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw, Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda Hobbes and Kristin Davis’s Charlotte York Goldenblatt – with their own coloured cohort – respectively, Sarita Choudhury’s Seema Patel, Karen Pittman’s Nya Wallace and Nicole Ari Parker’s Lisa Todd Wexley – it did help expand the narrative beyond the trio’s professional and personal highs and lows, and, for many fans, help fill the void so felt by the exclusion of Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones; arguably the one character from the original series that earned the most praise from fans and critics alike.
On the mention of Cattrall, it’s no secret that she harbored no desire in reprising her role as Carrie’s sex-positive PR guru, due in large part to an apparent rift between herself and Parker, so the mere fact that the finale of And Just Like That...’s second season gifted us her return is practically a pass for the entire season alone. Admitting it was purely fan service, Cattrall’s return was already known by viewers going into this second season (which, whilst understandable from a marketing perspective, should have been left as a true surprise for the audience), but despite its 71-second length – the epitome of a cameo – it was pure and beautiful nostalgia, and a welcome reminder of how fabulous the original show was, and what this new show occasionally could be.
Though the show commenced on a rocky start and seemed to almost take pride in its fumbles (just when we thought Che Diaz was being re-shuffled as a character we could barrack for, they go and utterly destroy Miranda with a “stand up” routine that had everyone questioning not only their actions, but the loyalty of Carrie as a friend to Miranda first and foremost), when executive producer/developer/oft-writer Michael Patrick King forewent exaggerated situational humor and stunt-casting gimmicks (wait, was that Sam Smith up in here?) and placed an honest focus on these women and their relationships – both as friends and with their own partners – there was an undeniable sparkle that reminded us why we keep coming back.
And, ironically, it had very little to do with Carrie. Now, of course, And Just Like That... will always serve Parker first and foremost – she earned plenty of mileage this season as she seemed to finetune her on-again/off-again relationship with Aidan (a returning John Corbett), something that ended in a questionable “compromise” that will no doubt have ramifications throughout the just announced third season – and Carrie was a main component of one of the season’s most applaud-worthy moments, but it was Seema (as so beguilingly portrayed by Choudhury) who demanded focus and respect. Tired of being a third wheel to the increasing romance between Carrie and Aidan, Seema spoke a truth that ripped through to the predominant female and queer audiences watching with a relatable passion; she wasn’t dismissing her friendship with Carrie over such a choice, but she was putting her foot down and demanding respect, understanding, and space between them as she personally dealt with her own singledom.
And then there was Charlotte. So often a character that occasionally flirted with setting the feminist movement back throughout the original show with her seeming focus on finding a husband and having a family as the most important aspect of her life, her trajectory in And Just Like That... has come full circle. Whilst there was always a pride that Charlotte took in being a wife and mother, we saw her desire to return to the workforce in the latter half of this season and, subsequently, pave a path to demonstrate that the personal and professional juggle was possible, that celebrating herself professionally is not the selfish act her family view it as, and that her husband doesn’t get the gold star treatment for a couple weeks of pitching in over years of her own service; she lays him out with a “bare minimum” speech that I can only imagine will resonate with a wealth of working mothers across the board.
And Just Like That... hasn’t matched bravery of its original Sex embodiment, but it’s certainly proving it has the ideas to glide along the side – even if its at a slower pace. For everything the show gets frustratingly wrong, it manages to offer up a few pearls of genuine wisdom and wit, always reminding us that underneath this shiny new coat of paint is the structure we originally loved.