Emotional Rollercoaster of Carrie Bradshaw: Target Audience and Storytelling Challenges Unveiled in ‘And Just Like That’

Discover the Unexplored Potential and Generation Gap in the Reboot of ‘Sex and the City’ — Unpacking the Patriarchy!

@museumbuzzy
@datingship
11 min readJul 26, 2023

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*** Spoiler Alert | S02E06 ***

As I have repeated several times in my previous blog posts, the main problem of the HBO Max Show ‘And Just Like That’ is that it lacks a main story and causes confusion among targeted groups. It feels like they are throwing all the sociopolitical subjects that emerged after ‘Sex and the City’ regardless of a core concept for telling a story. We heard stories concerning Black and Indigenous people and people of color, LGBTQ, and struggles of adaptation to the 2023 popular culture, such as podcasting in Carrie’s case and raising a non-binary teenager in Charlotte’s case. But S02E06 of ‘And Just Like That’ finally revealed that the Millennials and Gen-Z are not included in their targeted group.

Screenshot from ‘And Just Like That’ S02E06

The opening scene inspired me as Carrie brought her a ring light that we saw at first the influencers and then during the COVID-19 pandemic zooming. I got excited by assuming that Carrie would go on live as she was placing books under her laptop and turning the lights on/off to arrange the optimum camera angle and the light. But surprisingly, all this arrangement was for a Zoom talk (assuming) with an influencer interested in Carrie’s book promotion. However, there was a tiny issue: The Gen-Z (assumed) Influencer had no clue about Carrie Bradshaw’s latest book ‘Loved and Lost’! Carrie felt offended, and in the panic atmosphere, her Apple MacBook fell down and broke. I underline her Apple MacBook to demonstrate how the included ad reveals the targeted audience of the show.

Carrie Bradshaw Influences the latest version of the iPhone.

Carrie’s trip to the Apple Store with Seema sheds the first light on the show’s target group. While Carrie reminisces about her old MacBook, Seema advocates always having the latest version of digital devices. The connection between Apple and the audience becomes more evident as the episode progresses, especially during Carrie’s public reading of her book, which I’ll elaborate on later in this blog post.

Getting Back to the Apple Store: At first sight, I didn’t get the correlation between Apple and the targeted audience of ‘And Just Like That.’ Because Carrie Bradshaw has her iconic image typing on an Apple MacBook at her desk, which is snapped outside her living room. Therefore, I thought including a noticeable ad in this episode should have another mission. As I kept watching the episode, I slowly started to connect the dots, especially when Carrie read her latest book at a public gathering.

Screenshot from ‘And Just Like That’ S02E06 — quotes from Seema
Screenshot from ‘And Just Like That’ S02E06 — quotes first from Carrie (lower left) and then from Seema (lower right)

Meeting the Audience of ‘And Just Like That’ at Carrie Bradshaw’s Public Event

After the failure with the Influencer, Carrie goes to her publisher for her book promotion and gets invited to a reading at a conference only for widow women. As Carrie listens to the previous author, she gets panic. Because she makes a series of jokes about losing a husband, and the audience laughs aloud. She is confused after seeing a group of women handling the loss with humor instead of grief. She was in a panic because her book tells a story of grief. When her turn comes, she first tries a joke which’s idea was developed by Che (who was specially invited to the event by Carrie.) The trick doesn’t work, and in silence, Carrie starts to read from her book ‘Lost and Loved.’ Her talk appreciating and missing the past but motivating and encouraging for the future created a synergy among the female audience, who cheered up. #CLICK

Screenshot from ‘And Just Like That’ S02E06

As ‘And Just Like That’ was produced the following ‘Sex and the City,’ they have the same targeted group — the audience of ‘And Just Like That’ is today’s moms, widows, singles, and divorced women watching ‘Sex and the City.’ Similar to the characters, some older audience probably felt personally losing a beloved husband, some stayed unmarried, and hopefully, some discovered their sexual identity. The message to these already ‘Sex and the City’ watcher women today over 40s is: “Live further, whatever happened to you!” Seriously. Nothing more.

On the one hand, very progressive, and on the other, it is comforting. In my reading, it means the combination of two: “Don’t worry if you don’t live your dream life; just find a way to enjoy it.” You will remind them of their mental and sentimental balance, unless they are uncomfortable with their current life conditions. That’s clear.

At this point, I also realized that they didn’t need to set any one fundamental story; instead, they decided to fragment women’s life over the 40s because they rarely had clear messages for explicit situations. That immediately made me think of the marketing research of the HBO Max Show ‘And Just Like That’: I assume one of the most keywords frequently stated by the focus group participants is experience. In correlation with experience, I guess other frequent keywords are LGBTQ, Black and indigenous people, people of color, racism, and women’s rights, along with the disability of predicting the process of any encounters in everyday life. I can prove this no way, but I firmly believe; therefore, the producers decided to introduce a diversity of lifestyles without the burden of connecting the characters beyond the fact that they all live in New York and somehow met. #Shame

Finally, it brings us back to my moment of #CLICK for the obviously included Apple pad. Here comes my following argument: The relationship with technology of the focus group fits into Apple’s marketing strategy: New technological gadgets are not only for the young generations; on the contrary, having the latest version of digital devices is prestigious for an Upper East Side in her 40s self-made single Brown New Yorker, as well as for all those who want to stay trendy in persistence to (in other words, to hide) their uncomfortable feelings to survive in daily life. #BRAVO

The Generational Gap and Avoiding the Potential for Comprehensive Discussion

As I clarified the target group, the Season 2 ‘And Just Like That’ messages also became apparent. For instance, watching the stories of Gen-Z children, the characters. However, we are not watching the story of a non-binary teenager, but how the parents feel about the coming out of their teenager as a non-binary, how they deal with the situation; in other words, how those target moms would relate. ‘And Just Like That,’ all the concerning conversations, among others, about racism, empowerment, and discovering queerness, feel average. #Boomer

For instance, when Charlotte’s daughter shared that she would (finally) have her first sex. Have you seen anything about teenage sex, except random talks of ‘being ready’? No. Instead, we have seen how Charlotte knows her daughter’s right to choose for her body. She even stated how it was difficult back in her teenage years to talk about sex. Moreover, she desperately searched for condoms with a clear message to normalize sexual experience outside the family, in other words, for unmarried partners contrary to heteronormative norms. They even use the term sex positivism. #ThanksForTheLectureGrandMa

I must admit: Nowadays, it’s super easy and catchy to raise a glass to feminist movements. Their problem is: They affirm fundamental human rights as if they are revolutionary by exaggerating the case under the screams of ‘We talked about women, but we talked about women’s freedom.’ The clarification of the target audience of ‘And Just Like That’ helped me also illustrate my last bet: The communication gap between unconcerned about each other generations: On one side, boomers, and on the other, Millennials and Gen-Z. By watching the experiences of parents instead of the kids in ‘And Just Like That,’ women usually aim to adapt themselves to every new contemporary teenager issue, but instead of presenting a comprehensive discussion concerning the case, mothers typically decide to go with the flow (of their kids). Instead of feminist empowerment, it reads more in the way of comforting — again: ‘Let’s not have an unpleasant argument right now.’ This is indeed so patriarchal. Women have been developing different strategies to bypass the patriarchy, asking for the right to self-determination. Most commonly, telling lies, run from home, have (sometimes illegal) abortions, and stay in the closet forever if they are queer. If ‘And Just Like That’ wants to present a feminist reboot of ‘Sex and the City,’ the shocked, affected, open-minded, and accepting mamas must elaborate on the current political and legal conditions to provide social justice for ALL. I’m sorry, but putting a Black woman as a success story to remind us of the contributions of Black and indigenous people and people of color is not enough to raise awareness, for instance, for #BlackLivesMatters. What happens to losers? Who tells the losers’ stories — who couldn’t go to school, get a proper job due to the lack of education, and only afford their basic living expenses by working two different jobs every day in New York? Talking only about winners putting pink glasses on the white privileged public to disseminate color blinding along with the increase in racism — Claiming there is no racism, exemplifying the successful ethnical, religious, or sexual minority public figure.

A feminist or Non-feminist Reboot of ‘Sex and the City’?

I’m sorry if someone has already clarified the target audience of ‘And Just Like That’ and I have missed it to read, I’m sorry. But honestly, I’ve deeply struggled with placing the characters to understand their messages. As I’ve written in one of my previous blog posts, the characters are not involved in the HBO Max Show with a story. They had only representative identities of contemporary sociopolitical life. (Though accused of excluding the #MeToo movement by having Christ North in the cast.) Maybe I only hoped to see the mingled women from different generations around emancipation. Excuse me, but they could not somehow write a story for Miranda and Che — in other words, the story of a woman discovering a non-heteronormative sexual relationship. I can’t believe how Che could Miranda ‘Mama’ call since she asked Che to leave their flat once that week. #CLICHÉ

An urgent confession: I don’t even want to get into Miranda’s ultimate breakups. But I have to because we finally hear about a bisexual woman over 40s from the perspective of her prolonged husband and her non-binary publicly known comedian partner. I wouldn’t cross any boundaries by commenting on a bisexual relationship rather than by noting my objection against illustrating a woman in the discovery of her sexuality as the most heteronormative cliché: mothering. However, I have some words about the breakup of a patriarchal marriage. I could not but wonder: Is this really Steve? Did one of the most easy-going, silly but funny, and empathetic guys in New York in the 90s turn into a macho? Steve did not forget, but left the used condom purposefully to tell Miranda hastily that he could also have sexual relationships with others. But it’s not all his message. By representing toxic heteronormativity, Steve also tells Miranda that her relationship with Che is only sexual, unlike Steve and Miranda’s intimacy. #ARGHHH I was more convinced of puppy-face Steve rather than this fragile masculinity who got a nervous breakdown due to his refusal to victimize himself, claimed the property for everything in the house, refused the idea of getting a divorced, and shamed a woman for considering her options to have an abortion before deciding to give birth to a kid as an unmarried mom. #PatriarchyLeaveUsAlone #Now

I feel sad. I sadly think I came to the end of a fairy tale story again with Carrie Bradshaw and, in general, ‘Sex and the City.’ The previous one was when Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha called Mr. Big to get Carrie back from Paris. #NoHeroNeeded But my frustration with ‘And Just Like That’ is unrelated to the love life, unlike in the 90s. Back then, it wasn’t clear why I stood against Mr. Big because I was not yet informed about feminist theories. But today, I watch Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda as if my 2000s independent female characters got lost in the contemporary sociopolitical diversity culture. I feel sorry that they couldn’t evolve following the grassroots feminist movements in the USA. Their new encounters don’t have any ability to confront them with their white privileges. At the same time, they also have the same economic, professional, and social privileges, even though they represent different ethnical, religious, and sexual minority groups. Hence, motivating widow women to keep living their lives under the massage of “Stay on-trend and age gracefully with the latest iPhones — adopt the culture of the #WOKE generation and avoid their fighting as much as you can!” One would definitely call it ‘feel-good (intersectional) feminism.’

#Benching Aidan or Not?

I Hope Samantha will blow our minds to expect and wait for the Season 3 of ‘And Just Like That.’ #FingersCrossed Despite my broken heart, I’ll also-f*cken-likely keep watching the following episodes. Although I dislike the idea of Carrie dating her ex-fiancé after losing the ‘love of her life,’ I have to disclaim: #Aidan4Ever, but he does never deserve #Benching. Don’t you know what ‘Benching’ in dating is? See you next week to talk more about it.

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@museumbuzzy
@datingship

elif cigdem artan, phd | a passionate sociologist curious about the rich tapestry of everyday life - in digital culture and anti-racist gender equity 🎠