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Che Diaz was And Just Like That's best addition, giving it a shot of verve and askew energy

  • Sara Ramirez's polarizing character brought real value to HBO Max's Sex and the City revival series, despite being despised many of its fans, says Daniel D'Addario. "In a TV landscape defined of late by its predictability, the Sex and the City update And Just Like That is utterly strange: It’s a show that in many particulars does not work, and that got off to a terrible start, and yet this viewer awaited each week’s episode drop with increasing zeal and relish," says D'Addario. "In particular, one of the show’s new characters — probably the most widely pilloried among Sex and the City fans — gave the series a shot of verve and askew energy that helped carry it over the finish line. Have you guessed who I’m talking about? Hey. It’s Che Diaz. As played by the non-binary actor Sara Ramirez, Che is a character who is, from the first, central to the lives of two of the And Just Like That trio. They are Carrie’s boss in her new role as a podcaster, as well as a sort of guide to the culture of the 2020s for a writer who — movingly and frustratingly — is stuck in the 1990s. And they are Miranda’s object of a sort of obsessive lust, an object against which Sex and the City’s high-strung lawyer can work out her pain at where her life has ended up. (Charlotte has no meaningful relationship with Che but seems generally to wish them well.)" D'Addario pushes back at the three main critiques of Che Diaz -- that Che was only added to bring diversity, that they were annoying and that they wrecked Miranda's life. But Che was intended to be annoying, says D'Addario. "Che is, to my eye, a very carefully and thoughtfully drawn and acted depiction of a (self-declared!) narcissist — a personality type thick on the ground in the worlds of comedy and podcasting," adds D'Addario. "This places Che within the franchise’s long history of New York City archetypes, particularly those around whom set-pieces can be built. (Che’s grand-scale musical performance in the finale was the show’s scene-making at its very best: A picture of a milieu made up of delusional people that one completely believes could be real.) Che’s self-regard outstripping their abilities as a comedian is painful to watch; it’s also very real, as are the other characters’ reactions to their work. Their comedy is certainly not funny. But there’s humor, and pathos, in Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte forcing themselves into enthusiasm about it, even if they’re so out of the loop that they incessantly call Che’s show a 'comedy concert.'"


    • Che Diaz always felt like a TV character: "Sure, plenty of fans will forever despise the stand-up comedian, podcast host, and future Fox sitcom star for breaking up their favorite SATC couple," says Ben Travers. "(Though I really hope resentment doesn’t carry over to Sara Ramirez, a wonderful actor who isn’t to blame for the character’s issues.) What holds Che back is that they always feel like a TV character. They’re never given an interior life for audiences to empathize with, whereas even Miranda, whilst caught in a loosely defined season-long spiral, is still identifiable as a real person. (Granted, a lot of her authenticity came from the original SATC.) Che doesn’t feel genuine, even to the roles they claim as their own. They’re supposed to be a stand-up, but their 'comedy concert' can’t set up a solid joke despite five full minutes of screen time. They’re supposed to be a cool, hip podcast host, but they have a 'woke moment' button like some sort of shock-jock from 1994. They’re supposed to 'do a ton of weed,' but they say things like 'I’ve done a ton of weed.' Beyond the writers’ nagging inability to follow-through on making us believe Che is who they say they are, they’re also… kind of a dick. Che and Miranda’s meet-cute involves Che giving Brady, Miranda’s underage son, weed at a funeral. They also smoke in elevators, have sex in their enfeebled coworker’s kitchen, and tell the woman they love they’re moving to Los Angeles at the same time as 100 other people. Anyone rejecting Miranda’s mid-life transformation is probably stuck on their distrustful feelings about Che. And here’s where the relationship comes in: It’s hard to buy into a couple that feels one-sided, but it’s even harder to invest in Miranda’s inner journey when it’s tied to someone who’s a) annoying, and b) clearly isn’t in it for the long haul. (Prediction: Che will not appear in And Just Like That Season 2.)"
    • Che’s frustrating on-screen quality doesn’t necessarily make Che a poor representation of the non-binary community: "Che never needed to represent an entire community in the first place," says Chloe Stillwell. "The character offers one piece of non-binary representation on-screen, and their flaws add humanness to them." Stillwell adds: "Che is non-binary, drug positive, a famous comic — and noxiously aggressive about everything that they do. Che is not a likable character. But why are they expected to be likable on a show that historically lets its characters be truly insufferable? Why do we accept Carrie’s doe-eyed backwardness, Charlotte’s profane prudishness, and Miranda’s bossy Karen-ness, but feel the need to obliterate Che for not being everything to everyone? t’s a tough question, but the answer begins with the writing. One valid criticism around Che is that they read as a caricature of a non-binary person, rather than a nuanced addition to the already existing tableau of neurotic New Yorkers and AJLT’s new cast...Che just reads like a list of their identifiers. Che is majorly concerned with policing wokeness, to the point of literally having a 'woke moment' button that they use on their podcast, annoyingly titled 'X, Y and Me.' And when they are not aggressively asserting the ideals of progressive social mores, they’re limited to being a projection of Miranda’s sexual fantasies and a tool for her liberation ... or used for a quick laugh while smoking blunts after giving a “comedy concert.” Che’s character suffers from a lack of interiority. But not everyone is complex or sensitive in the real world, and Che’s lack of those things could be read as verisimilitude. Carrie is a raging narcissist who we have lovingly put up with since 1998. Che exhibits some of those same narcissistic tendencies, but they’re just more obnoxious about it. It is genuinely off-putting to watch, though. Che’s hyper-sexuality feels myopic in a show that has always been about normalizing sex, and their comedy is trite. All of their scenes make you tense your body as you brace for the cringe. It may seem odd that the writers would choose to make their first non-binary character such a repellent — but again, everyone in SATC is a bit annoying."
    • Che and Miranda aren't the queer couple the world needs right now: "When looking back on these 10 chaotic episodes, I think the thing that annoys me most of all is the extent to which we’re supposed to think that Miranda is blowing her life up for Che specifically, rather than queerness and/or adventure more generally," says Shannon Keating. "In Episode 9, Steve asks Carrie whether Miranda always wanted to be with women, and she reports that Miranda has always told her this whole thing isn’t about gender or sexuality at all: “It’s not about being with women. It’s about being with Che.” Che is not a woman, but we get the idea here: Miranda isn’t supposed to be going through a queer awakening, but merely a Che awakening. It’s a bizarrely regressive framing, one that, were Che a better-written character, they’d surely hate: You can’t divorce someone from their gender or their sexuality. We’ve all known someone who’s insisted that they aren’t gay, or queer or bi or anything messy and complicated like that, but simply in love with one person, one exception. It’s an attitude rooted in obvious internalized homophobia, one that the show is failing to question if not outright endorsing. Clearly I’m not a Che fan, but they deserve better than that. So does Miranda. And queer viewers do too."

    TOPICS: Sara Ramirez, HBO Max, And Just Like That, Sex and the City, LGBTQ