If Sex and the City was beloved for its glamour and romance, And Just Like That has come to represent exactly the opposite. For the past nine weeks, SATC fans have watched as HBO Max’s reboot debased and demoralized Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), characters who spent the early aughts debating the ins and outs of complicated relationships, but now fail to understand basic concepts of modern life. The days of getting advice from Carrie’s column are long gone; instead, And Just Like That is filled with embarrassing, cringey moments. There are dozens of horrific gaffes throughout the revival’s first season, the final episode of which drops today on HBO Max, but these are the moments that Carrie & Co. will never be able to recover from:
Episode 1: “Hello It’s Me”
For years, the greatest criticism of Sex and the City has been its whitewashing of the vibrant, diverse city it depicts. Whether And Just Like That solves this glaring problem is a question for another day, but the revival does attempt to address it with the addition of characters like Miranda’s professor Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), real estate agent Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury), and documentarian/mom extraordinaire Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker). While all three leads put their foot in their mouths when it comes to this effort to diversify the show (more on Charlotte’s blunder to come), it’s Miranda who delivers the most uncomfortable moment of the entire season. Over the course of two awful minutes, Miranda manages to become the grad school laughing-stock when she:
The scene ends with Miranda promising to “just be quiet” (took long enough), but And Just Like That missed the opportunity to include a shot of one of Miranda’s classmates typing, “Lmao guess what happened in my class today,” and getting three “!!” reactions from their group chat in response.
Episode 4: “Some of My Best Friends”
You didn’t really think the buttoned-up Charlotte would get out of And Just Like That’s diversification effort unscathed, did you? In Episode 4, Charlotte worries that Lisa Todd Wexley (known affectionately by Charlotte, and no one else, as LTW) will think she and Harry are too “vanilla,” so she requires her husband to read up on Black literature ahead of a dinner party. However, their preparation proves to be for naught, as Charlotte confuses one of Lisa’s guests with another Black woman from their Upper East Side prep school. My soul left my body when the woman said, “I’m not Gwen,” and it has yet to return.
Episode 5: “Tragically Hip”
And Just Like That is largely devoid of (intentional) humor, but Episode 5 hearkens back to the physical comedy that made Sex and the City’s early seasons so great. Following her hip surgery — hence the title, which basically guarantees that the episode will be cringey — a laid-up Carrie is forced to rely on her friends for help getting to and from the bathroom. During one of Miranda’s visits, Che, who everyone seems to have forgotten is Carrie’s boss, stops by, and before long, the two are having extremely loud sex in the kitchen. Carrie awakes to the sound of Miranda’s orgasmic screams, but her bladder gets the better of her: rather than just lay low, she decides to pee into an empty Snapple bottle, a task she performs with impressive precision. All seems to have gone well until she lays back on the bed with the Snapple bottle in her hand (also dumb), spilling pee all over her sheets.
There’s a case to be made that this is actually an embarrassing Miranda moment — she’s screaming like someone stuck in a rip tide trying to alert the attention of a lifeguard — but she’s not the one who ends up covered in pee, is she?
Over the past nine weeks, the internet has united against Che Diaz (Sara Ramírez), Miranda’s love interest and the closest thing And Just Like That has to a villain. For reasons beyond our understanding, the show portrays Che Diaz (both names must be used) as some kind of comedy genius, but their “comedy concert” in Episode 3 contains no punchlines, just (valid, but not funny) ruminations on nonbinary representation in media. Che Diaz continues to do “comedy concerts” throughout the season, but by Episode 8, when they speak before a crowd holding some of the least creative LGBTQ+ slogans ever committed to poster board, their act becomes a Mad Libs of generic progressive verbiage. “I want to thank you all for living in your truth today! For saying fuck this rain bullshit and being here for each other. I mean, y’all are making me wet!” they say, while wearing a shirt that reads, “Angels have no gender but lots of sex.” Che Diaz, explain yourself!
The Television Academy should not encourage And Just Like That’s sins, but if someone must be given an Emmy nomination, it should be Sara Ramírez, who consistently says things like “I’ve done a ton of weed!” with a straight face.
When it comes to ageism, And Just Like That is a curious case. In the weeks leading up to the December premiere, Sarah Jessica Parker called out the “misogynist chatter” about the cast’s appearance, while Cynthia Nixon praised the show’s “revolutionary” commitment to honestly depicting 50-something women and their “aging lady bodies.” It’s bizarre, then, that And Just Like That seems to relish making jokes about its 55-year-old characters being on death’s doorstep. It's most prevalent among the women (Carrie attributes her back pain to “old lady disease” before learning about a congenital birth defect in her hips), but the men aren't immune, either: Steve, probably SATC's most popular male character, has regrettably transformed into a bumbling, forgetful man suffering from hearing loss.
Not all of And Just Like That’s aging storylines are negative — the show openly discusses menopause, and Miranda insists on allowing her hair to gray naturally, to name a few — but any forward movement is hamstrung by the underlying suggestion that Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte are now old hags. Needless to say, it’s embarrassing and offensive to suggest that being 55 is a “senior condition,” as Carrie puts it, and the flip-flopping only contributes to the sense that the revival has no clear direction or identity. With HBO Max said to be considering renewing And Just Like That for a second season, getting rid of its implicit ageism would be a great place to start.
All ten episodes of And Just Like That are now available to stream on HBO Max.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.
TOPICS: And Just Like That, HBO Max, Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica Parker