And Just Like That… Just Doesn’t Get It
Is it even possible?
I am very protective over Sex and the City.
The show, for what it was, created an entire subgenre of American television and it did it while being funny, heartbreaking, and entirely lovable.
But as television has caught up to and now passed SATC in the groundbreaking department, it’s now a relic. A show that used to be one of the most highly rated on television is now criticized for its whiteness, its classism, and its Bechdel test failures.
When the show was at the height of its popularity in the 90s and early 2000s, these things were commonplace on television. It was how they did it that was so revolutionary — frank conversations about sexuality were all but common. Being on HBO gave the show that freedom. And HBO also made it so that show was cinematic — the cast included movie stars and it had producing and showrunning that made it seem more like film than anything else on television.
Here’s where And Just Like That… comes into play. The museum piece that is SATC simply cannot withstand the criticism. As a result, when they decided to tackle this reboot, they also wanted to atone for their sins.
What we have learned in the past few years is that some things should just be left in the past. SATC is the perfect show for NYC bus tours and Instagram 90s fashion accounts — when you try to revise something that was never designed that way, one of two things happen: 1 — the current incarnation is completely unrecognizable from the original or 2 — everyone sees right through what you’re doing and calls you out for doing it solely because you think you have to.
Unfortunately for And Just Like That…, both of those things happened.
Even if they could fix SATC (they can’t), they didn’t even try. They pretended to right some wrongs, but it was all so fake. And we saw right through it. They promised us change and all we got was a pitiful attempt.
Here are some examples:
Che. I want to be upfront and say that Che grew on me as the show went on, but at the end of the day they are still a self-proclaimed narcissist. The non-binary representation was nice, but the character was so unlikeable. And I’m not the only one that thought that way: see here, here, and here.
Rock. Charlotte’s child Rock could have been the catalyst for a much more robust storyline, considering that we already had Che‘s perspective. Charlotte, throughout all of SATC, wanted a cookie-cutter, nuclear lifestyle. Rock being Rock does not play into that plan and Charlotte was bothered by it for all of…three seconds. I am in no way saying that parents should have problems with their children’s decisions and shouldn’t love them regardless. But Charlotte is Charlotte and it could have at least been an educational experience for those with questions and curiosities.
Seema Patel. Indian woman representation in American media is not a common thing. And out of that we got…one Diwali celebration. Her character in no way needs to be defined by her ethnicity, but many plot points involving her Indian background that were set up went absolutely nowhere. Just false promises. She really just became replacement Samantha.
Nya Wallace. She’s there to give Miranda a place to express her white guilt and when that storyline wraps up (?), she’s all but relegated to the sideline. Her B-plot involving her infertility seems like a wonderful thing to explore in a show about women of a certain age, but wasn’t really given room to breathe. Before the series aired, we were told that the new additions to the main cast would even have some of their own scenes that didn’t involve the original trio and Nya got the most of those — but she was the most welcome addition and I could have taken a lot more.
Lisa Todd Wexley. She was given absolutely nothing to do except be a part of Charlotte’s story. Yikes!
And I think that I’ve (sort of) figured out why the reboot can’t seem to find its footing between not defining characters by their ethnicities or gender identities and being able to use a character’s unique characteristics in their storyline.
Sex and the City was all about labels. It was about defining the cultural landscape. When it came to men, the ladies of the show dated men of all types: the men who cry after sex, the sugar daddies, the pitiful yuppies — for example. It was all about categories and finding out which category of men you liked most.
And for women, it begged the question: Are you a Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, or Samantha? Because you could only be one of those four — those are the four types of women, right?
And this was a valuable thing for the time. Sex and the City was a cultural barometer for life and love.
But now we live in a world where labels are antiquated. It doesn’t matter if you are Indian, or non-binary, or a Miranda, or adopted, or rich, or Jewish, or a widow — you’re you. These qualities make up who you are and you are a unique mix of your background and your lifestyle — but none of those things solely define you.
Sex and the City (or And Just Like That…) is having a hard time without labels. And it’s having a hard time finding how to represent diversity without abandoning it all together.
As a result, the show not only doesn’t feel like itself in any way, the characters don’t either. Our three returning ladies have all changed (in some ways for the worse) and our new characters weren’t given a real introduction.
If a second season does happen, I sure hope they find that footing. The movies soured the SATC legacy and I thought they left a bad taste in my mouth. If AJLT ends here, that taste will only be worse.
I can’t believe I’m asking for more, but the show deserves more.
…And Steve deserves more.
For more Sex and the City on Feature Presentation:
Candace and Carrie Can’t Help But Wonder: Is There Still Sex in the City?
Candace stars off-Broadway and Carrie premieres on HBO Max.