Film&TV, Review

And Just Like That: The Hot Take

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After 18 years of absence, Sex and the City finally returned to our screens on December 9th, 2021 in the form of And Just Like That. While many of us weren’t around to enjoy the original series in all its glory, the reboot was the perfect way to introduce the cult classic to a new generation. Upon hearing about the upcoming series, I have to admit, I had my doubts. After two questionable films, released in 2008 and 2010 respectively, the consensus was to leave well enough alone and to let the franchise simply age gracefully into a timeless classic.

Sex and the City is undoubtedly a classic of our time. While I have only watched the series in the past couple of years, the name has always been in my periphery. I recall even my mother reading the Sex and the City book, written by Candace Bushnell in 1997, when I was barely 7 years old. Intrigued by the bold cover, adorned with a pair of purple stilettos, naturally, I questioned her on the book. Ever the Irish Mammy, she quickly covered the letter e, telling me it was a book about six friends in NYC, called, conveniently, Six and the City’. While feminism, female friendship, and sexuality are common themes explored in more recent series, such as Emily in Paris (also written by Darren Star the creator of Sex and the City), SATC paved the way for this television revolution. Has And Just Like That managed to live up to its parent show’s incredibly high standards?

The first episode undoubtedly got off to a rocky start, with the characters seemingly forgetting their true colours. Miranda, the one who was always the most progressive of the group, awkwardly bumbles her way through a college class, offending everyone in her cringey attempt to be overly woke. Carrie, meanwhile, acts coy when questioned about sexual topics on her new podcast, although she spent the entirety of SATC writing a sex column about her personal exploits. Meanwhile, Samantha, who was always brutally honest and never shied away from a fight, has mysteriously vanished to London after splitting from the group. Charlotte is perhaps the only character who hasn’t changed for the worse, acting as the upper-class helicopter mom we always expected her to be.

Just as I was beginning to think this would merely be a ‘where are they now’ glimpse, lacking any true substance, the plot twist arrived -in the form of Big’s untimely death. I, along with many SATC fans, was shocked at this loss. Seeing as Carrie spent much of the original series searching for ‘the one’, it felt like a huge disappointment not to truly bask in her newfound happiness with her. And yet, as the series progressed, it revealed how truly vital this tragedy was to the storyline.

In SATC, Carrie was eternally dating, and fans revelled in watching her explore the dating scene of NYC. The whole premise of the original show was these four, powerful women navigating romance. Therefore, however tragic, it makes sense to join Carrie, as a now 55-year-old, entering the dating scene again for the first time in years. It also allowed us to see a different side of the sometimes overwhelming character that is Carrie, witnessing her navigate this huge loss in all her vulnerability. It also made for those beautiful moments of intimacy between the women that has allowed fans to identify with them for years.

Miranda also unexpectedly re-enters the dating scene in the new series, albeit from a different angle. Trapped in her stagnant marriage to the bumbling Steve, she turns to alcohol to cope. When she meets Che Diaz, Carrie’s fellow podcast host, her eyes are opened to the unhappiness she has been feeling for “forever”. Miranda feels excitement and passion once again for the first time in years, falling in love with Che, the non-binary comedian, in a whirlwind romance – very out of Miranda’s comfort zone. Although some of the pair’s encounters are stilted and awkward, especially in the finale, wherein Che flamboyantly announces her departure to California by song, and the unmentionable scene in poor Carrie’s kitchen, it’s refreshing to see Miranda act boldly for once, switching up on her usually uptight manner.

Charlotte, although still happily married to Harry, also faces upheaval in her home life, coming in the form of her youngest daughter. Charlotte, the prim, conservative member of the group, has fulfilled our expectations by cultivating her perfect home life. From the posh school, the pristine house, and the glamorous fashion, she has everything in order – until her little Rose bud decides she wants to be called Rock. Although at first reeling from the news, Charlotte goes from resistance to fully embracing her daughter’s identity, even throwing them a genderless ‘they-mitzvah’. I personally enjoyed Charlotte’s character progression most of all, as she talked about nitty-gritty topics she would’ve shied away from previously, such as showing Lily how to use a tampon, while still managing to maintain her effervescent girl-next-door persona.

Nevertheless, we must address the elephant in the roomSamantha. Kim Cattrall’s absence from the series was definitely missed her innate candour is, in my opinion, what truly gave SATC its cult status. A character as revolutionary as Samantha Jones has never existed and will never exist again. Evidently, SATC is aware that their vital piece is lacking. While almost dissing Kim Cattrall in the first few episodes, they get more desperate to see her return as the series progresses, culminating in Carrie and Samantha agreeing to rendezvous for a cocktail in Paris.

While the absence of Samantha is sorely felt, I must commend the new characters who (almost) filled the void. Lisa Todd Wexley, Charlotte’s fellow Upper Wester, is introduced in the first few episodes. While she starts strong, her presence peters off towards the end, eventually falling flat as she slips into the embodiment of rich privilege – arriving at a charity event in a limousine. Another new friendship in the series comes in the form of Carrie’s real estate agent. Seema started off uncertainly, comparing Carrie’s thoughtless comment, commending her for “still putting herself out there” to her smashing Carrie and Big’s wedding photo. However, she definitely comes closest to filling the Samantha-shaped hole in our hearts, with her smoking and straight-talking – the perfect combination. Finally, my personal favourite new addition is Miranda’s professor, Nya Wallace. Although the jump from awkward encounters to intimate secret sharing between her and Miranda was slightly sudden, the storyline of her and her partner’s fertility struggles was a beautifully poignant addition to an otherwise potentially overlooked character. I personally greatly enjoyed the addition of these peripheral friendships to the show. While the original series focused on relationships with men, this reboot certainly managed to portray another kind of intimacy female friendships.

We can’t discuss And Just Like That, however, without mentioning the insensitivity of the beloved Stanford’s sudden departure. Willie Garson, who played Stanford, sadly passed away during filming of pancreatic cancer. His departure was mentioned even less than Samantha’s, with his ex-husband Anthony revealing briefly that he left for Tokyo to manage an up-and-coming Tiktok star – and was then never mentioned again. I personally found this quick write-in lazy and, quite frankly, a let-down to the pivotal role Garson played in the original series. Although, granted, he and Anthony were bound to separate, the brevity with which they addressed his absence was downright offensive to Garson’s memory.

Throughout the series, throughout the wokeness and the outright random (Carrie’s hip operation?), we were never let down on the fashion. In fact, in this series, we got perhaps a broader spectrum than ever before – from Carrie’s extravagant orange ball gown for the finale to Rock’s red satin ‘they-mitzvah’ suit. Carrie may now be in her 50s, but she’s still the fashion icon we all wish to emulate. She even managed to make scattering her late husband’s ashes into an iconic moment – storing them in a glitzy, Eiffel tower handbag. The fashionista even managed to “give us a look” for Big’s funeral, donning an elegant black and white number, paired with chunky pearls and a simple fascinator. My personal favourite, however, has to be the glitzy rainbow number she dons as she gets back into her heels for the first time, simultaneously stepping back into herself and her newfound lease of life.

Although And Just Like That isn’t perhaps as revolutionary as its predecessor, we couldn’t possibly expect it to be. In my opinion, And Just Like That, for its few mishaps, is everything we could’ve wanted in a reboot: it’s fashionable, fun, and full of frank moments. It even managed, albeit slightly clumsily, to fit its signature, boundary-pushing themes into today’s cultural climate. Even though shows are bolder now than ever before, And Just Like That nevertheless manage to feature themes still considered taboo in mainstream media today. The brazen, raw intimacy of the show, which is the very reason so many of us tuned in to the original, was maintained in the reboot, thereby reinstating it as a cult classic for this new generation of youth, and for many more years to come.

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