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And Just Like That's fundamental flaw was making life after 50 look unhinged and a little sad

  • HBO Max's Sex and the City follow-up series "could and should have been a fun, thoughtful celebration of being a woman in the throes of her 50s," says Jen Chaney. "Instead, much of its comedy focused on how getting older either makes you creaky and out of touch or so impulsive that your friends barely recognize you. There have been several missteps throughout this (limited? continuing? unclear!) series, like Miranda Hobbes’s inability to form coherent sentences when let loose among the woke. But the most fundamental and dismaying way the series failed the Sex and the City faithful was by making life over 50 look unhinged and a little sad, something its predecessor specifically did not do in its depiction of life over 30." Chaney adds: "At its core, And Just Like That … is exploring what it means to age and change, but it handles that subject matter with a clumsiness and, prior to the finale, a grimness that often obscures any intended messages about embracing change. Similar questions about aging were foundational to Sex and the City. When the series debuted on HBO in the late ’90s, it was notable not only for its frank talk about sex but because it depicted women in their 30s and early 40s who avoided marriage and motherhood so they could exist on their own terms and timelines. (The marriage- and motherhood-hungry Charlotte, of course, being the notable exception.) In other words, Sex and the City was the story of a group of women deliberately deciding not to follow the rigid rules traditional society was trying to impose on them until the day they died. Existing as a post-20-something woman can be like living inside a vice: You’re still young but old enough to start sensing a mounting pressure to get serious — about a career, a relationship, a family, homeownership — before time runs out. Sex and the City captured that dichotomy frequently...the ways in which it was highlighted also felt rooted in something akin to reality. On And Just Like That …, a series built around the notion of aging and how the familiar Sex and the City characters, in particular, are handling it, events often seem to be taking place in a strange parallel universe where Carrie and Miranda (and Charlotte, to a much lesser extent) seem either stuck in the past or divorced from their former selves. While Sex and the City acknowledged the anxieties and frustrations of life in one’s 30s, it also made being a woman in her 30s, especially in New York City, look exciting, fun, even glamorous. While the costumes and environs on And Just Like That … are often stunning, the show does not make being in your 50s look fun. Most of the time, it makes you understand even more deeply why Charlotte once wanted to stay 35 forever."


    • Miranda, the most rational character on Sex and the City, became someone totally at odds with her former self on And Just Like That: "Miranda was always supposed to be the rational person’s Sex and the City character," says Sophie Gilbert. "While Carrie et al. were accidentally getting paid for sex, trying to seduce clergymen, or exposing their vulvae for Art, Miranda was investing in real estate, training for a marathon, and working long hours to the detriment of her personal life. The most scandalous thing she did was have a baby. She moved to Brooklyn before even Maggie Gyllenhaal. (I shudder to think how much her house is worth now.) She clapped back at a catcalling sandwich. She gained weight (a cardinal sin in SATC-land) and then attempted to lose it by doing the most sensible of diet plans: Weight Watchers. Caught as she was in the miasma of narcissism and judgment and towering heels that somehow defined female friendship in the late ’90s and early aughts, Miranda cared enough about her friends to essentially tell them when their lovers were wormy ego monsters. And Just Like That, though, has presented a different version of Miranda. How to put it? She’s, well … awful? Awful in ways I am struggling to really define individually, because they’ve blurred aesthetically, emotionally, and illogically into one big mess of plaid and infidelity. But here’s the biggest worst thing about Miranda: She’s done Steve wrong. I’m not talking about leaving him, even though the series showrunner, Michael Patrick King (call him MPK, I now know after enduring And Just Like That … The Documentary), seems to think that’s what’s most offended viewers about Miranda’s arc this season. Of course there’s more to life than a stable romantic companionship and a shared love of sweets. But there’s still something distasteful about Miranda giddily demolishing a 20-year relationship without shedding so much as a single tear for the person she was wrecking in the process."
    • Which did more damage to its legacy -- And Just Like That or Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life?: "Sex and the City sequel series And Just Like That… ended this week, and I’m still processing the mediocrity," says Princess Weekes. "I found myself asking what other far-flung revival has been so bad at understanding the appeal of the original source material in such a visceral way? Oh, right: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Both series were not only groundbreaking for their time but crafted a culture around them. Once you become invested in the shows, it transforms your lexicon. Even as someone highly critical of both the original Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City, they have become comfort food for me. But the spinoffs highlight all the things that were problematic about the original series, but rather than improving in those areas, the revivals have simply illuminated the problems—with the brightest ring-light."
    • Sarah Jessica Parker made sure to avoid discussions about And Just Like That: "My media blackout started on Dec. 1. I said, 'Michael, here we go again,'" she says. "I wrote an email to the people that I’m surrounded by and said, “I just want to remind everybody I’m not interested in hearing good or bad.” The chatter and peripheral conversations are not helpful to me. They don’t make me a better actor."
    • Mario Cantone says "we both cried and it was horrible" when Willie Garson shared his cancer prognosis with him: "I had no idea until he told me," Cantone tells People. "I thought he was kidding. And then he turned his head and I saw his look and I went, and then I sat down next to him. We both cried and it was horrible."

    TOPICS: And Just Like That, HBO Max, Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon, Mario Cantone, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sara Ramirez, Willie Garson