Through the trials and tribulations during turn-of-the-century New York, the TV series “Sex and the City” captured the hearts of women around the world, not just those of New York City. Now a series continuation, “And Just Like That,” offers a new chapter, with the cast navigating life in their 50s in NYC.
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), is a phenomenal character, juggling her jobs as a podcaster and writer working her memoir after the sudden death of her husband, Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) gave up her corporate life for a California lifestyle with Che (Sara Ramirez). Meanwhile Charlotte (Kristin Davis) has become a helicopter mom dealing with her precocious teenagers.
During this season, the show shines a light on three strong-minded and diverse women — Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury) and Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman). Creator/writer Michael Patrick King integrates them into the narrative as regular characters who enjoy nearly equal screen time to the original trio.
The season opens with everyone getting it on, celebrating their lives with nudity galore in the first couple of episodes, including a scene of Miranda and Che fully naked in the pool.
At the same time, the opening episode, built around attending the notorious Met Gala, feels tired since much of what’s on display here -– in the show’s term — is like trotting out yesterday’s styles. When a “Hot MILF” list is distributed at her kids’ school, parents Charlotte and Lisa exult that they are No.2 and 3.
Miranda’s relationship starts feeling more like standard “Sex and the City” fare, when the couple has a misunderstanding — Miranda thinks that Che is pulling away because Miranda wants a relationship while Che wants a more casual arrangement. In reality, it turns out that Che has insecurities about her body and dieting that the couple have to work through. Che’s mindset is okay for the pilot of a TV show, relatable but of a completely different arc from the first season.
These actors bring a necessary vibe to the ever-turning original series but it’s hard to ignore the fact that with each additional character, intended to adjust it to today’s society’s of color, sexual orientation and non-binary labels, makes the casting feel very deliberate and kind of distracting.
Some scenes that once seemed edgy for primetime TV now feel redundant or parodic, such as when Carrie says, “I think my vagina has to write its own monologue” after having been asked to record an advert for a feminine hygiene product. That sort of thing felt like an innovative expression of a woman’s mindset when it originated 25 years ago, but now feels like a half-baked observation. Part of the attraction of “Sex and the City” was how the women courted men through their bare-naked minds, but not necessarily through physical nudity — even though there were Samantha’s sexcapades which were shown in the original series.
The new series obviously suffers from Kim Cattrall’s absence, which was a byproduct of her much-talked about relationship with fellow cast members. There’s a certain energy that Samantha/Cattrall brought to the original series stories that simply can’t be replicated, even though this season has something more than Cattrall’s cameo and John Corbett’s much-anticipated return.
The show revels in fabulous cameos, with Gloria Steinem, Billy Dee Williams and Candice Bergen popping in with quick glimpses into their lives, but doesn’t lend a significant momentum to it other than showing off.
Of course, expectations for this series were very high to begin with, and it’s tough to create a new chapter with only three of the original cast. Creator/Writer Michael Patrick King and the writers devote a considerable amount of time to middle-aged sex in the city, including the topic of aging, a reminder that desire didn’t end upon their graduation from the original series’ demographic.
But throughout this season, most of the characters feel like they’re trying too hard to incorporate today’s society but are missing the point of what made the original series stand out. All of the leading ladies in SATC had fun, got drunk, had sex, and worked hard; they loved their lifestyle that way. In a way, they showed us that love and fulfillment can take many forms. But this new chapter feels Frankenstein-like, stitched together from an assortment of great ideas, but most don’t deliver a significant emotional momentum — except in the scene when Carrie and Aidan are reunited.
Grade : C+
Here’s the trailer of the series.