And Just Like That: What Was That?

“Until next time, I’m Carrie Bradshaw and this is Sex and the City”

And so declares our protagonist in the last moments of the finale of the first (and maybe only?) season of And Just Like That, the SATC spinoff series.

But is it really, Carrie? Is it Sex and the City? AJLT was, at best, a vexing fever dream, at worst a legacy-tarnishing abomination that turned four innocuous little words, “Hey, it’s Che Diaz” into possibly the most chilling phrase of 2022.

Despite the 2010 hate crime that was the second Sex and the City movie (which is largely rejected as being part of SATC canon) fans, myself included, seemed cautiously optimistic in the lead up to And Just Like That, that this new limited series would be closer to the original show, as problematic as it is in the rear view mirror, than its cinematic counterparts. But as noted in our piece after the first two episodes dropped, the cracks in AJLT appeared immediately.

From its forced and totally disingenuous wokeness to its assasination of beloved characters, and everything in between, if full body cringing counted as cardio, we’d all have Jennifer Lopez abs. Over the course of its ten-episode run, I found myself asking not only if the writers had ever even seen the original, but had they also ever actually seen how humans interact with each other? If so, it didn’t show. On both fronts.

So while Festivus is generally observed in December, let’s make an exception on this, the fourth day of February, and air our many grievances with And Just Like That. Please know, I’m only hard on the show because I loved the original series so very much. I take no pleasure in this. I desperately wanted to like AJLT.

With that disclaimer out of the way, buckle up, kiddos, because, like Lily’s Goldenblatt’s inaugural tampon, we’re going in deep.

Why was Steve reduced to a bumbling old man?
Let me say right off the bat that, while I did like Steve and Miranda together, I always thought she should have ultimately ended up with Robert Leeds played by the gorgeous Blair Underwood. To me, they always seemed like the more logical match: Miranda a successful lawyer, Robert, a debonair doctor for the Knicks. They had chemistry and lots in common. But Miranda chose Steve and, after an infidelity blip in the first SATC movie, they seemed happy together. Until, of course, AJLT. Suddenly Steve, whose boyish immaturity quite frankly irked me during the original series (Scooby Doo, Steve? Really?) was now a confused, deaf, and bumbling old man shuffling towards the grave despite only being in his 50s. I understand actor David Eigenberg suffers from hearing loss in real life and that it was worked into the story, but there’s losing your hearing and there’s losing it altogether. Was the actor aware his dialogue in AJLT would consist of little more than “huh?” and “what?” The scene where he’s lost at the farmer’s market and leaves his wallet behind? Really? Damn. They did you dirty, Steve.

Too many new characters, not enough time to care
Sex and The City always had supporting characters, whether reoccuring like Stanford and Anthony or one or two-offs like Kyra, Bobby Fine, and Susan Sharon. But in AJLT, with the subtlety of an anvil, the show attempted to address the (very justified) criticism about the original show’s unbearable whiteness and what became of it was each main character basically being assigned a POC sidekick. I mean, an attempt was made, I guess, but it begs the question, what’s worse? A show with shockingly little diversity? Or a show where the people of colour are shoehorned in and treated like props? A real Sophie’s Choice, for sure. Also, with only ten episodes in the season, I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to care about these other characters. Give me a Dr. Nya Wallace-centered show, I’ll take it. But within the SATC metiverse, I’m sorry, I just don’t care about her fertility struggles. Also, there was no movement on that front, instead just the same conversation about whether or not to have kids had over and over again over the course of several episodes. Lisa Todd Wexley, played by the stunningly gorgeous Nicole Ari Parker didn’t have much to do other than serve looks and inexplicably not know how to operate a microphone despite being an uber successful documentary filmmaker. Seema, at least, finally got to have some sex, something seriously missing from AJLT. Why writers chose to then introduce us to yet another character within a couple of the series’ final episodes in the form of Carrie’s downstairs neighbour Lisette, I just don’t understand. Making even less sense to me was why Carrie, a grown ass woman of 55-years-old, gave even one single fuck about whether her neighbour thought she was “cool” or not. Don’t even get me started on Carrie calling her podcast co-host Jackie in the middle of the night for a 2am consultation on how to deal with her noisy neighbour. Who acts like this? By the way, Bobby Lee, who plays Jackie, is 50-years-old! Nearly the same age as Carrie! Why is he being positioned as the voice of youth? I’m so confused!

The (character) assasination of Miranda Hobbes by the coward Michael Patrick King
Apparently in the time between the last SATC movie and the premiere of AJLT, Miranda Hobbes had a lobotomy? It’s the only plausible reason for such a significant change in her personality. Miranda was always the most level-headed, the most pragmatic, the most mature of the women and in AJLT she was reduced to a giggling school girl navigating her first crush. There were so many times Miranda’s behaviour caused such second hand embarrassment, I had to cover my eyes. From the very first episode where she was acting a damn fool with her new professor right up until the finale where she declares she’s headed to California to follow Che and every episode in between, Miranda’s behaviour never failed to confuse me at best, and enrage me at worst. She was a shell of her former self. Charlotte called it when she said Miranda was in the throes of a midlife crisis. Yet the writers positioned it as Miranda evolving and clearly expected us to embrace her journey. If this is evolution, consider me officially a Creationist. Gosh, even the way she knocked on Che’s door that one time when she was “craving her some Che” made me want to jump off my balcony. By the time she was in the stairwell screeching about cookies and Meg Ryan, I wished I lived on a higher floor so my balcony dive would result in my death rather than merely serious injury.

I get she was unhappy and nobody should be expected to settle, but the Miranda of yore would never have been such a passive passenger in her own life for years until someone came along and rescued her. And she most certainly would not have tolerated her gross, disrespectful horny son having loud sex with his mouthy girlfriend under her roof. I kept waiting for her finally discipline this domestic terrorist of a teen but to no avail.

In the finale, when Miranda is justifying dropping everything and following Che like a lapdog, I couldn’t help but remember the Miranda of the original series, telling Carrie she was “living in a fantasy” for following Aleksandr Petrovsky to Paris.How did Carrie not call her out on that? Also in the finale, what was with her shitting all over Carrie entertaining the idea that Big may be in Heaven? I’m also an atheist but I’m not an asshole who’s going to argue with my best friend who’s mourning the loss of her husband. THIS is the moment writers chose to show us a glimpse of our old cynical Miranda? Let the woman believe whatever she needs to believe in order to cope and heal. Damn. Was there a moment in this entire series where Miranda didn’t completely fucking suck?

Dropped plotlines
There were so many dropped plotlines throughout the season, I lost count, the most blatant being Miranda’s alcoholism. After toting around tiny Titos around town in a backpack, she just decided to up and quit cold turkey? And poof! It wasn’t an issue anymore? If only it were so easy! And in what world is it good storytelling to have one episode end with a manic Miranda in a cab on the way to stalk Che in Cleveland (“I’m in a rom com, Carrie!” Ugh, more like vom com) and then, in the very next episode, not show how that insane act was received? Like, at all? What? Make it make sense!

Carrie essentially had nothing to do
After Big died at the end of  episode one, Carrie was left with, well, not much to do. She wandered around her apartment, she walked the streets, she visited a storage locker where inexplicably she had no idea what was inside the boxes until she opened them, she organized her clothes, she tried to find the source of a weird beeping noise (what was the point of this? WE NEVER FOUND OUT WHERE IT WAS COMING FROM?) Yes, she wrote a book but that only lasted long enough to fill a montage. It’s rumoured several flashback scenes and dream sequences featuring Chris Noth had to be scrapped after the disturbing sexual assult allegations against him surfaced, but for whatever the reason, somehow, in the world of AJLT, Miranda became the main character. In the old SATC, I may have welcomed this since, as most of us came to realize in our 30s, Carrie is a toxic mess, but this new Miranda? Hard pass. When I’m craving me some Carrie, we’re in danger, girl. Texting Samantha was the most interesting thing she did.

Time is meaningless
Just what the hell was going on with the timeline on AJLT? At the end of the episode where Carrie has her hip surgery, there is a three month time jump, we know this because she says, “And just like that, three months later, I was back in heels.” During that same episode, Miranda aka “Rambo” DMs Che to meet up again. The subsequent episode opens with the aforementioned montage of Carrie writing her book where we see several seasons come and go indicating that about a year has passed. Yet, later in that same episode, Miranda says it’s been three months since she DM’d Che. Anyone else confused? Could the writers just not be bothered with continuity?

We get it! You’re old!
AJLT never let an opportunity pass where the characters reminded us of just how old they are. In your regular life, how often do you reference your age? Apparently once you hit 55, it’s daily. Even doing something as benign as sitting on steps is met with the dialogue, “I see you. You’re the only 55-year-old on the university steps!” Huh? Another time, Miranda declares, “I’m 55 and I have to pee,” as if urinating something reserved only for the middle-aged.  At Lily’s piano recital, which inexplicably brought out the entire friend group, when Harry asks Steve what’s new, his response is, “I’ve got hearing aids, I’m an old timer now.” Presumably Charlotte and Harry and Steve and Miranda have spent some time together as couples over the past year, wouldn’t Harry know Steve had hearing aids? Even if not, that’s what you lead with? It’s like these people all slipped into a deep coma at age 40 and woke up 15 years later in these 55-year-old bodies they had no idea how to adjust to. I know people in their ’70s who don’t talk this much about their age. Ugh. We get it! You’re old! Yet despite having one foot already in the grave, these women behaved so ridiculously immaturely at times, I couldn’t help but wonder, who acts like this? Wearing sky high heels to paint a women’s shelter? Really? Ugh. Sure.

We get it! Big’s dead!
I’m not trying to minimize how devastating her loss may have been, but was there one single moment in AJLT Carrie did not jump on the opportunity to remind us that Big died? In true Carrie fashion, no one was allowed to have a problem because nothing in the world was bigger than Big’s death. Even in the finale when the podcast hosts are swapping worst breakup stories, Carrie takes the opportunity to double down, reminding everyone her husband died thus declaring Carrie the winner/loser of the worst breakup contest. Instead of bringing up Big’s death for the umpteenth time, wouldn’t this have been a fun opportunity for a callback to when Berger broke up with her on a Post-It note? But nope, Big died and nothing before or after will ever count or matter. Carrie’s sorry, she can’t, don’t hate her. Big’s dead, we know! We were there! We watched you not call 911, not fetch his emergency nitroglycerine pills, and not attempt CPR as the life drained out of his body. At least the AJLT writers stayed true to Carrie and her innate self-centredness while they were busy dismantling Miranda.

Where were the laughs?
Look, I get it. Sometimes life sucks. I think the past couple of years have made that abundantly clear. But the original series always found a way to straddle the line between serious and silly. Significant topics like cancer, infertility, and devastating breakups were peppered in with bits of humour. Because that’s life: not everything is terrible, and not everything is rainbows and butterflies. Maybe it’s just me but AJLT felt joyless for the most part. Anthony was the only character who elicited even the mildest of giggles from me.

Just who is that podcast for, exactly?
X, Y, and Me, the podcast on which Carrie inexplicably appears has to be the most confusing podcast of time. It comes off more like a morning zoo radio show from the ’90s with a “woke moment!” button added in to tell you it’s actually 2021/2022. And live call-ins from listeners? On a podcast? Has anyone on the writing team actually heard a podcast? And sure, the popularity of many podcasts confounds me cough*JoeRogan*cough, but at least I understand there’s an audience for them, as truly terrifying as that audience may be, but just who is X, Y, and Me for? I kept wondering why Carrie was on this damned thing to begin with? Shouldn’t someone of her status: a formerly high-profile columnist and best-selling author with several books under her belt, be hosting her own podast about sex, love, and relationships? Basically her column in podcast form?And wouldn’t that podcast have been a good way to maintain the trademark Carrie voiceovers that were missing from AJLT? It took until the final moments of the finale for this to happen when it should have been the case all along. Added bonus: it would have spared us Che Diaz.

Che Diaz
I’m sorry (or not sorry as Charlotte quoting Demi Lovato would say) but Che Diaz is the worst. I won’t go too far down this rabbit hole as there’s not much more I can say that hasn’t already been said by countless other publications and memed to death online but, oof. Despite being inherently unfunny, Che appears to be the only working comic in New York? And worse, they’re rude, too. Lighting up in an enclosed space like an elevator is trash behaviour. So is offering pot to a minor at a funeral of someone you don’t even know. So is showing up to your coworker’s home post-surgery uninvited with a bottle of tequila, lighting up once again, this time in her home, then proceeding to have sex with her married best friend while said coworker is convalescing just a few feet away. Don’t even get me started on the honking noises Che elicited from Miranda. That’s for my therapist and the fine folks at Tanqueray to deal with now. But in addition to Che being a garbage character, I just never understood their relationship with Miranda. They didn’t have any chemistry, Miranda acted like such a weirdo around her, and what did Che see in Miranda, anyway? We’re lead to believe Che is this non-conforming, super cool comic on the brink – exactly what about Karen, er, I mean, Miranda is attractive to them other than Miranda constantly showering them with praise like “you’re like a comedy prophet!” Barf. But, as Che declares in the finale, “what can I say? I’m a fucking narcissist.” No lies detected there. By the time Che started into their rendition of “California Girls” I was convinced the show producers were getting off on torturing us.

Miranda’s wig
This requires no further elaboration.

Rambo
Immediately no.

What the actual fuck is a Comedy Concert?
Seriously, though. Just what, exactly, is a comedy concert? WHO calls it a comedy concert? After “Hey, it’s Che Diaz,” the words “comedy concert” now require a trigger warning. I guess it’s trying to show how uncool Miranda is, calling Che’s comedy special something akin to what your mom would call it, but my mom is near 80 and lives in Winnipeg. Miranda is only 55-years-old (we know this because she told us 500 times) and is supposed to be a sophisticated urbanite. Well, before the lobotomy, anyway.

And just like that, I am done
And yet, dear readers, am I really? Done, that is? After all the aforementioned grievances, after all the times I swore I’d give up, if HBO Max unleashes a second season upon us, would I watch? Yes, yes I would. Because either I don’t love myself enough, don’t value my own limited and precious time here on Earth, or this show has some sort of Stockholm Syndrome over me.

And just like that, I’m Patty Hearst.

RELATED:
And Just Like That: We Couldn’t Help But Wonder, Why?
THE STORY OF: The Tutu In The Opening Credits Of Sex And The City

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