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And Just Like That... Season 2 Recaptures Sex and the City's Charm

Max's sequel refocuses on sexual relationships in its fizzy sophomore outing.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That... Season 2 (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/Max)
    Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That... Season 2 (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/Max)

    On nearly all fronts, And Just Like That...'s debut season was a disappointment. In bringing Sex and the City into the 2020s, creator Michael Patrick King, a longtime producer on the original series, packed Max's sequel with culturally relevant storylines executed so clumsily that they overwhelmed any potential comedy. With Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) mired in the depths of grief, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) were left to lighten the mood, but time and time again, these once self-assured characters became fumbling women struggling to navigate life, love, and cancel culture in their 50s. The creative team's effort to atone for SATC's lack of diversity was similarly clumsy: The core trio welcomed women of color into the fold, but these new characters existed primarily in service of their white friends, and their stories remained woefully underdeveloped.

    While And Just Like That's first attempt at course correction didn't inspire a ton of confidence, the show addresses many of these issues in its sophomore outing, which recaptures the fizzy, charming nature of the HBO series. In a return to form, Season 2 employs a more episodic structure as it refocuses on sexual relationships. The relaxed pacing gives the audience plenty of time to sit with these beloved characters and, better yet, actually get to know the new additions to the group, as their roles are expanded considerably.

    Carrie and Charlotte benefit most from the format shift. Parker's character spent much of last season adrift, but after taking steps to move beyond Big's (Chris Noth) death, Carrie is finally ready to embrace life again. In the finale, she shared a kiss with her podcast producer Franklyn (Ivan Hernandez), and their relationship carries over into the new season. Though their chemistry is by no means overpowering (Hernandez fared better with Poorna Jagannathan in Never Have I Ever Season 4) the situationship serves as a confidence booster for Carrie, who jumps back into the dating world with the same verve she displayed in the 1990s.

    Carrie's dating adventures don't diminish her grief — early on, she's overcome with emotion while recording her audiobook — but they indicate that the writer, who spent the past year moping around the West Village, and AJLT have identified a path forward. After a largely joke-free first season, humor returns to even the show's darkest moments, as when Carrie attempts to get out of the audiobook taping by pretending she has COVID-19. The episode ends with a wry voiceover that cleverly brings Carrie's current drama full circle, Sex and the City-style.

    Charlotte also enters Season 2 with renewed zeal. Davis' character has always been the most traditional of the bunch (it took Charlotte months to come to terms with her child's gender exploration), but as her children prepare for adulthood, she matures along with them, trying on the role of "sex positive" matriarch for size. Charlotte's storylines are consistently some of the funniest of the season: She and fellow power mom Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) quietly celebrate their inclusion on a student's "MILF list"; later, Charlotte steps into Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) shoes and leads a discussion about "jizz-free sex" over brunch. These situations are wrapped up neatly by the end of each 45-minute episode, but together, they nudge Charlotte towards a larger revelation about her desire to return to the art world. By the time she gets there, her big decision feels earned, despite the ridiculous circumstances surrounding the moment.

    Of the original characters' storylines, Miranda's relationship with nonbinary comic Che Diaz (Sara Ramírez) is the most serialized, but even that's handled with restraint. After throwing herself into this new, queer romance, Miranda comes back down to earth in Season 2 as she and Che face unexpected challenges created by Che's past, their sitcom pilot with Tony Danza, and Miranda's hectic schedule. The narrative arc honors Miranda's character in a way last season didn't (her microaggression spree on the first day of class remains one of the show's more painful moments) and gives Nixon additional material to work with as Miranda works through her complicated feelings about blowing up her decades-long marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg) and further explores her sexuality. Season 2's slow, controlled approach also goes a long way towards redeeming Che, who remains as unfunny as ever — their stand-up set includes a joke about being so lazy they took "an Uber from [their] bathroom to the bedroom" — but gains some much-needed perspective after suffering a career setback.

    Just as AJLT discovers less irritating layers of Che's character, it expands the opportunities for the other newcomers who were underserved in the first season. Seema (Sarita Choudhury), Carrie's real estate agent, continues to fill the void left by Samantha by regaling the ladies with her sexual exploits, including a surprise encounter with a penis pump. Elsewhere, Lisa juggles the demands of her career as a documentarian with her husband's (Chris Jackson) political aspirations, while Nya (Karen Pittman), Miranda's professor, deals with her own divorce as Carrie and Seema encourage her to take advantage of life as a single woman. These storylines enable the women to strike out on their own rather than remain stuck as sounding boards or sidekicks, and the show benefits from better integrating their perspectives into the overall narrative.

    It wouldn't be accurate to say that And Just Like That solves every problem that plagued the first season — the premiere is a particularly heavy-handed affair — but at the very least, the show has stopped taking itself so seriously. In playing up the comedy and returning to an episodic format that foregrounds the sex, Season 2 comes close to reclaiming the magic of Sex and the City, even without Samantha's weighty presence. (Cattrall's single-scene cameo doesn't come until the season finale.) And Just Like That... the future of Max's franchise is suddenly looking bright.

    The first two episodes of And Just Like That... Season 2 premiere Thursday, June 22 on Max, followed by new episodes weekly. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    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, Max, Cynthia Nixon, Karen Pittman, Kristin Davis, Michael Patrick King, Nicole Ari Parker , Sarah Jessica Parker, Sara Ramirez, Sarita Choudhury