This article contains spoilers for the first two episodes of And Just Like That.
Early on in the first episode of Sex And The City revival And Just Like That..., Miranda Hobbes tells her friends they “can’t just stay who they were” forever. True, she’s talking about her decision not to dye her hair back to its signature red for her first day of university, but the message is clear from the offset – this is Sex And The City, but not as we know it.
Of course, this much has been obvious to fans since the reboot was first revealed to be missing one very significant cast member, and throughout the first two episodes – which are available to stream on Now as of Thursday morning – it’s apparent And Just Like That... is an attempt to move the franchise into the modern world, and rectify some of critics’ major issues with the original hit series.
We have to say that overall, those first two episodes do a pretty decent job of it, albeit a heavy-handed one. Then again, Sex And The City is a show that gave us lines like “when you’re tired, you take a nap-a, you don’t move to Napa”. Subtlety has never been its strong suit.
Here are some of our biggest takeaways from this new chapter in the Sex And The City story…
First off, how do they deal with the Hermes-clad elephant not in the room?
Well, it takes all of one minute for Samantha Jones’ absence to be brought up. During a chance meeting with none other than Bitsy Von Muffling, the newly-diminished trio are asked where their “fourth musketeer” is, and it’s obvious that all three members of the group are uncomfortable.
Initially, Carrie tries to pass Samantha’s move to London (where she’s now living) off as an exciting career move, but it transpires there’s a lot more to it. We soon discover Samantha left New York altogether after Carrie decided that with her books no longer selling, she didn’t need her services as a publicist. She, Miranda and Charlotte have been trying to get in contact with Samantha, to no avail, which seems fitting given the nature of Kim Cattrall’s exit from the franchise.
Obviously, it can’t be denied that Samantha is a big miss, but we applaud the producers for not trying to sweep her absence under the carpet. As Carrie herself puts it, she “thought the four of us would be friends forever”, and while it’s obviously sad this proved not to be the case, going down this route feels more appropriate than playing the whole thing down.
Where are the central characters at in their lives?
In fact, it’s been 11 years since we last caught up with the girls, and in that time, Carrie has begun contributing to a podcast and posting her favourite fashion finds on Instagram, Miranda has decided to study for a masters’ degree in human rights law and Charlotte is still loving life as a mum, though she seems to be struggling to understand the mindset of her youngest child, Rose.
And Just Like That... also reintroduces pretty much all of the supporting players at new points in their lives: Mr Big is now a Peloton devotee, Anthony has his own baking business and he and Stanford are back to sniping at each other once again, which feels kind of right.
As well as the aforementioned Bitsy Von Muffling, look out for a wave of cameos from former cast members too, including one reappearance we were delighted hadn’t already leaked online.
And how do the new additions fit into everything?
Episode one introduces us to three key new characters. The first is Lisa Todd Wexley, dubbed “LTW” by Charlotte. Nicole Ari Parker’s character is a sort of amalgamation of the central trio, with the fashion prowess of Carrie, the work ethic of Miranda and the disarming poise of Charlotte.
Unfortunately, Lisa is also the least fleshed-out of the new arrivals, at least at this early stage, but we’ll hopefully get to know more about her as the series unfolds.
By contrast, Sara Ramirez’s scene-stealing Che settles in and shows us who they are pretty much immediately. The host of the podcast Carrie contributes to, Che is responsible for most of And Just Like That’s comedic moments.
The character also does a brilliant job of addressing one of latter-day Sex And The City viewers’ many critiques, by holding up a mirror to Carrie about her prudishness, particularly for a woman who supposedly penned a go-to column all about the subject of sex in the 1990s.
The third of the new additions is Miranda’s college professor Dr Nya Wallace, who is at the centre of episode one’s most toe-curling moment. Things get off to a shaky start in Miranda and Nya’s first meeting, when the former bends over backwards to show herself as liberal and open-minded, only to end up being insensitive and insulting. After another incident involving college security, Miranda steps in to offer help a little too heavy-handedly, and is accused of having a “white saviour” complex.
These scenes are uncomfortable, but intentionally so, and seem to be And Just Like That’s way of acknowledging past mistakes with regards to race in Sex And The City.
Recounting the incident to Carrie later on, Miranda says she’s afraid of saying “the wrong thing in this climate”, which we hope is not intended as a free pass for her behaviour. Of course, this could also be the writers’ way of having Miranda make excuses for herself – and deflect from the fact her new-found alcohol habit could well be impacting her judgement, too.
How else does And Just Like That reintroduce our Sex And The City faves in the modern world?
The first line of dialogue in the whole show is Carrie lamenting the fact that social distancing measures are over as she’s pushed past in a restaurant. We also learn that Mr Big picked up some new rituals in lockdown, namely listening to his vast record collection and throwing himself into exercise.
In other words, it’s safe to say that And Just Like That... is not shying away from bringing the pandemic into the story.
But that’s not the only change we see on screen. Compared to the widely-panned second spin-off film, the show highlights the privilege its central cast has as three wealthy white women, particularly during Miranda’s conversations with her professor. We’ve already touched on the awkward and uncomfortable nature of these scenes, but it’s a promising sign that And Just Like That... is not afraid to address these themes rather than simply introducing actors of colour into the fold and calling it a day.
Through Carrie, we also see other ways the world has moved on. When she struggles to contribute to a podcast discussion about masturbation, Che calls Carrie out directly, after which we see her staring into a Word document trying to spin the incident into one of her signature one-liners that even she seems embarrassed by.
There’s one other major change, too
By now, you may well have heard about the major twist at the end of episode one, which sets the tone for the rest of the series. Just in case you haven’t, we won’t spoil it for you at this early stage, but what we will say is that And Just Like That... is clearly taking a more somber and serious approach than its predecessor.
There are still moments of comedy there, and when the three members of the central cast appear together it feels genuinely electric. But also, And Just Like That... hits harder than Sex And The City ever has before. Once you’re in the thick of it, it becomes evident why they chose to make the reboot its own show, rather than simply calling it a continuation of the original.
Finally… is it any good?
For even more casual viewers of Sex And The City, And Just Like That... is a must-watch. Not only is it packed with nostalgia, this new show also makes a deliberate effort to try and take on some of the criticisms levelled against the show over the years, and in the space of two episodes is also moving the cherished characters we’ve been watching for decades into unexpected and challenging places.
That being said, while it comes nowhere near the lows of the second Sex And The City film, we’d still say that if you’re not already a fan of the original show, we don’t anticipate And Just Like That... would do much to change your mind.
Still, if you’re among the millions who got Carried away (sorry, we had to) first time around, then get ready for more laughs, more drama, and a lot of tears.
The first two episodes of And Just Like That are available to watch now on Now and Sky, with a new instalment arriving every Thursday.
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