When the original “Sex and the City” series was released in 1998, its destiny was uncertain. The HBO show broadcasted a story from a feminine perspective that broke barriers for depicting pleasure, sex and individuality while highlighting the validity and precarity of female friendships. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristen Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) became loveable characters through whom viewers understood themselves — and by mirroring the realities of dating in your 20s, the series and its characters became immortalized in pop culture.
Two decades (and two film adaptations) later, the return of “Sex and the City” arrived in a ten-episode series, “And Just Like That,” produced by the original creators Darren Star and Micheal King and relocated to streaming service HBO Max. Reviving the cherished series was already controversial enough; however, further contention surrounded the reboot regarding the role of Mr. Big, after two women came forward against actor Chris North for allegations of sexual assault. On top of that, the show revealed that Kim Catrall’s beloved character Samantha would be absent from the reboot.
If the controversy wasn’t enough of a red flag, “And Just Like That” proved itself to be a disaster. It disappoints the original series’ impact and panders to its audience, elevating the appearance of progress above the development of the show’s characters, which leaves stiff and confusing storylines.
Plus, the lack of Samantha Jones is loud — too much so to ignore. There’s little good to be said about the series’ revival, which is seriously disappointing.
The writing places the characters in their ’50s and ’60s, which is not the time to hyperbolize aging. Characters such as Steve (David Eigenberg) need a hearing-aid, and Carrie even gets a hip replacement. The demographic of the original series viewers is most likely a similar age to the characters now. And for a show that was once all about the perils of sex, there is little to be had here, which sends a strange message of digression rather than celebrating mature relationships.
In the age of attempting to rewrite past wrongs and lead the way for a more tolerant generation, it is important for television and film to illustrate a new progressive society that honors and represents the storyline of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters. However, there is a way to do that successfully without feeling forced — “And Just Like That” does the latter.
Charlotte and Harry’s (Evan Handler) younger child transitions from identifying as female to non-binary throughout the series, and changes their name. The portrayal of this process is candid in identifying the confusion, hurt and pride Charlotte feels as a parent. But it mostly focuses on Charlotte confiding in Carrie and Miranda, rather than directing attention to Charlotte’s relationship with Rock. It feels as though creators King and Star were completing a checklist and speeding up this process as many other important scenes of education are reductive and demonstrate stereotypes and tropes.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. The relationship between Charlotte, Carrie and Miranda continues to illustrate the importance of important female friendships. The reboot’s best scenes have all three of them together at lunch or dinner, reminiscent of the past series. Depicting female relationships may seem inconsequential, but the reverence for female relationships is refreshing when more and more female-identifying characters are pitted against one another, competitors rather than companions. Fortunately for “And Just Like That,” the writers never fall into that stereotype.
“And Just Like That” fails to meet expectations. In an attempt to be progressive, the show does the opposite and introduces a new reality all too soon without proper care and attention for the past. Some scenes, one-liners and moments land gracefully, but it becomes overshadowed by the disjointedness in the rest of the show. And just like that, it’s better to stick to the original.