There’s been no end to the discourse among fans and critics over how And Just Like That is progressing.
The show has made for uncomfortable viewing on more than one occasion — from poorly executed storylines about transgender people to Carrie’s rampant ageism. However, nothing has felt quite so uncomfortable as watching Che’s continued lack of respect for Miranda.
Given the lack of diversity that dogged Sex And The City many fans welcomed the presence of a prominent nonbinary character and the exploration of LGBTQIA+ relationships beyond cisgender gay men and women.
Unfortunately, what fans envisioned hasn’t aligned with what appears on-screen. As much as many of us have tried to embrace the complexities of Sara Ramirez’s character, Che’s unlikable personality has made it difficult.
No, a character doesn’t need to be likable for a show to succeed — we’re looking at you, Carrie — but the fact that Che represents a marginalised community not regularly seen in the media meant scrutiny would be swift and acute.
Those of us who identify as nonbinary want to see a multifaceted, nuanced character who doesn’t adhere to stereotypes. By challenging stereotypes, such characters can break down misinformation about gender nonconformity.
Instead, Che only succeeds in reaffirming them. Most notably in episode four of season two, Alive!, Che assumes Miranda will be OK with a threesome with Che’s estranged husband, Lyle.
All the tell-tale signs were there that Che and Lyle’s relationship was still close, and so seeing the two finally in bed together wasn’t a shock. What was, however, was Che ignoring Miranda’s feelings by instigating a threesome without prior consent.
It was tough enough not to cringe at Che expecting Miranda to sleep in the same bed as Lyle, with the cringe factor only intensifying when Che starts making out with Miranda right next to him. But sex is still very much at the heart of the show, and the thrill of maybe being caught is one many viewers can understand.
Less understandable is Lyle joining in without asking, apparently not as asleep as everyone thought. Nor is it acceptable that Che asks a half-hearted “Are you OK with this?” before continuing.
Cynthia Nixon plays the shock well, with her character Miranda admitting that she needs a second because her initial response is to say no. Even when Miranda eventually says it’s OK and tries to join in, Cynthia’s character represents someone tentatively exploring multiple sex partners with uncertainty.
The issue with the scene isn’t the threesome. And Just Like That would vastly improve if we saw more than monogamous, heterosexual, cis couples having perfectly choreographed sex. No, the problem is the lack of communication, as well as blatant disregard for potential boundaries.
Che never asked Miranda about threesomes prior to this; the couple hasn’t really discussed much of anything in terms of having sexual transparency. Such a portrayal is already questionable for a monogamous couple, but add into the mix a polyamorous one, and the need for authentic representation is crucial.
Nowhere in AJLT has a polyamorous throuple been discussed, so this might not be what Che and Miranda’s relationship will become. Still, while their relationship isn’t set in stone, the importance of communication and trust, especially in a multiple partnered setting, is crucial.
At every stage of the relationship, Miranda is on the back foot, struggling to find her equilibrium because Che doesn’t offer her any. In episode five, Trick Or Treat, we see how an ill-equipped Che lashes out at Miranda after their TV show is canceled.
The way they shut Miranda down, talking to her as if she’s never experienced loss, speaks of the sheer ignorance Che has when it comes to other people.
It also doesn’t matter that this is a comedy series – that doesn’t excuse feeding the fires of misinformation and stereotypes of LGBTQIA+ people being promiscuous. Moreover, it doesn’t help challenge the outdated beliefs that Sex And The City relied upon, largely due to when it was released.
But it isn’t just the fact that Che’s character is a walking red flag that’s the only problem here — it’s also that the creators chose Che for such a subplot.
Yes, you could argue that Che and Miranda are an obvious choice because their relationship is new, and a lot of the other characters are married. However, that argument is flimsy at best: Carrie is single now, Sarita Choudhury’s Seema is also single, and Dr. Nya (Karen Pittman) has left her husband and is looking to find herself.
Each one of these characters could embark on the same journey as Miranda, yet they don’t. Although only the writers could say with certainty why that is, but the concern is that it’s because the creators know such a story wouldn’t track well with fans. (TV and film writers, including those who worked on “And Just Like That” are currently on strike over pay and working conditions.)
Fans already dislike Che and Miranda together; they have ever since their affair in season one. Consequently, having these two unlikable characters testing out less traditional sexual activities is a safer bet.
If viewers don’t like it, it simply reaffirms how “awful” these characters are, which some fans enjoy because they relish seeing unfavourable protagonists feeling the swift justice of karma.
Unfortunately, the characters in the line of fire here are the ones who are representing a marginalised group that’s deeply misunderstood. Due to the weight of that reality, AJLT needs to start thinking about Che beyond filling the role of anti-hero and almost villain in the series.