And Just Like That… Review
There’s no way to overstate what a cultural milestone Sex and the City was, during its original run between 1998 and 2004. Not only did it, along with The Sopranos, help put HBO on the map, but the series changed the cultural treatment of female friendship, as well as public discussion of sexuality by women, forever.
Much has been written, over the years, about the negative aspects of the series. It fetishized consumerism to a ridiculous degree, to the point where if any New York City restaurant or store was mentioned on the show, good luck ever getting in there ever again.
Way too many young women in that period of time saw it fit to base their entire personalities on the show, often ending up disappointed (or in debt) when they couldn’t afford as many shoes as Carrie could. The show depicted a version of New York City that almost entirely consisted of wealthy white people. And the two sequel movies — especially the ghastly, Dubai-set second one — were absolutely terrible.
But the show, in its time, was consistently funny, frequently went to serious and poignant places, and succeeded like few others at making a cultural mark.
Now, Sex and the City is back, with a limited series titled And Just Like That..., which debuted two episodes Thursday on HBO Max (For a show that used to always debut on Sunday night, it was kind of incongruous for the new series to premiere on a Thursday morning.) There’s some effective nostalgia for the original show, and a couple of good ideas, but overall there aren’t many laughs, nor is there much here that’s likely to be groundbreaking.
The show features discussions of the type of cultural stuff- Uber, podcasts, Grindr – that didn’t exist during the original run. Also, there’s very little of the silly, pun-filled voiceover, and the episodes are longer, with the first two running about 45 minutes each.
Three-quarters of the cast is back, with Kim Cattrall opting not to return. Her Samantha, despite rumors, isn’t dead; she has moved to London, after a falling out with Carrie, mirroring the rumored real-life feud between Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker. Samantha, however, does remain as an unseen character, still figuring in plots despite her absence.
Much of the supporting cast is back as well, and including all the husbands (Chris Noth, David Eigenberg, and Evan Handler), and both gay sidekicks (Mario Cantone and Willie Garson; the latter was able to appear in three episodes prior to his death in September.)
There are two good ideas at play here. One is that while these characters were so frank and upfront about raunchiness back when the show was first on, the generation younger than them has taken things to such a level that Carrie and friends look like prudes today. Carrie, no longer a newspaper columnist, is now the co-host of a podcast along with two comedians, one nonbinary (Sara Ramirez) and the other a Joe Rogan type, and she finds herself squeamish about discussing overt sexuality.
Meanwhile, Miranda’s son Brady- seen not so long ago as a baby early in the run of the series, is now a 17-year-old horndog, with a girlfriend.
The other great idea is a shocking plot twist that happens at the end of the first episode. I won’t say what happens, except that it resets the show in a row that gives it more potential than it would have had otherwise.
Does it bother me that they’re all older? Not really; that’s life, after all, and there’s a lot of potential for interesting stories about the dating lives of women in their 50s.
Watch And Just Like That…