Carrie Bradshaw must face the realities of getting older in this new spinoff series.
While reboots of ‘90s shows are nothing new, And Just Like That, a continuation of Sex and the City, is surely the most hotly anticipated of them all. But is this reboot merely fan service, or is it able to stand on its own?
And Just Like That brings the characters of Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, and Charlotte York into the 2020s. If you notice a name missing in that list, that’s because the fourth member of the friend group, Samantha Jones, will not appear because actress Kim Cattrall declined to join the project.
The first two episodes are available to stream on HBO Max starting Dec. 9, with the remaining episodes dropping weekly.
The original Sex and the City was known for its glitz and glamor (and Galliano), which often camouflaged its damaging messaging on sex and relationships. Aside from a few minor characters, And Just Like That, which finds its leading ladies navigating their 50s, has a much more wholesome focus on supporting your friends and family when they need it most.
Picking Up Where We Left Off
When we last saw Carrie, in the disastrously tacky 2010 spinoff film Sex and the City 2, she and her husband Mr. Big had finally made peace with the fact that marriage changes both parties’ lives forever. In the film, Carrie runs off to Abu Dhabi with her girlfriends while struggling with the fact that her single, woman-about-town days are over. In the end, she and Big reconcile and make the choice never to have children, deciding they would be happy with “just us two.”
In And Just Like That, viewers discover what kind of life Carrie and Big have created together. She’s now a podcaster with a New York street style Instagram account; he spends his days in the office and rides a Peloton to stay in shape. At the end of the day, they cook dinner together and listen to records.
It’s an idyllic life, and in the first episode, it seems like the characters of And Just Like That might have morphed into a Real Housewives franchise, spending their days bickering over petty drama while wearing over-the-top designer outfits. Case in point: Charlotte finally cajoles her youngest daughter Rose into donning an Oscar de la Renta dress for a big night out, only to find out Rose has added a t-shirt and sherpa hat to her ensemble. All is fixed when fashion-forward Carrie compliments the outfit. There’s a moment of bliss when all three friends are enjoying the lives they’ve created for themselves and their families. Then, it all comes crashing down.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but Carrie’s life is changed in a big way. Grab the Kleenex box – And Just Like That will have any tried-and-true SATC fans laughing and crying simultaneously.
Sex and the City was part of a group of groundbreaking shows like Friends in the ‘90s and early 2000s that depicted urban young adults becoming each others’ chosen family. In And Just Like That, one of the main themes is being there for your friends, in joy and in grief. Miranda and Charlotte sleep over at Carrie’s apartment, bring her food and magazines, and try to keep her spirits up. The original Sex and the City may have started as a light-hearted show about New York City’s hookup scene, but the real love story was always these four women supporting each other (everyone knows Charlotte’s famous line “Maybe we can be each other’s soulmates”).
Will Millennials and Gen Z Enjoy And Just Like That?
In the first two episodes, And Just Like That manages to craft a compelling story arc that will have both SATC-obsessed and new viewers wondering what comes next. The show’s producers and stars haven’t been quiet about their desire to appeal to younger viewers, despite the main cast being 50-plus.
“Fourteen-year-old girls walking the dog with their dads call out to me, ‘I can’t wait!’ ” Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Carrie, told Vogue in November. “I think young women still really relate to this story. It’s about finding friendships that matter, looking for work that fulfills you, and pursuing love, even when it drags you, bloodied, down the street.”
Of course, the show’s themes are a big part of its popularity, but in many cases, it’s the fashion that piques the interest of Millennials and Generation Z. Browse through TikTok and you’ll see twenty-somethings recreating the Sex and the City characters’ most iconic outfits. And Just Like That doesn’t skimp on the fashion either – Carrie favors flowing, wide-legged trousers and dainty hats, Charlotte still opts for classic, feminine silhouettes, and Miranda… well, we don’t need to talk about how badly they style Miranda. Some things never change!
Luckily, the show’s writers seem to be in on the joke that Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte probably remind younger viewers more of their moms than the influencers they follow on Instagram. After an embarrassing situation in class, Miranda quips, “It’s a miracle nobody pulled out their phone, or I would be a meme now.” A Karen meme, to be exact. The characters of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte are still recognizable, but they’re no longer party girls. They’re wives and mothers, and to a large extent, their lives revolve around their loved ones.
HBO built up an audience with shows like Sex and the City by allowing the sex and nudity that viewers couldn’t find on networks like CBS and ABC. But, at least in the first two episodes, And Just Like That doesn’t try to force the same amount of nudity on the same actors 20 years later. That isn’t to say that the show has a more moderate view on sex – Miranda lets her son’s girlfriend sleep over (then laments finding used condoms on the floor of his bedroom), while Carrie has a storyline about masturbation after her podcast cohosts accuse her of being too uptight.
The first episode finds all three characters happily married, and enjoying sex only within those relationships. However, a lot could change throughout the course of the show. Long before And Just Like That premiered, Sex and the City superfans have speculated that Miranda Hobbes could have a queer storyline (Miranda is played by actress Cynthia Nixon, who is married to a woman). A connection between Miranda and Carrie’s nonbinary friend Che Diaz, played by Sara Ramirez, in the second episode hints at the possibility.
It’s almost impossible to imagine that the writers won’t explore this possibility. Years after it first aired, Sex and the City has been criticized for not featuring enough characters of color and for leaning on stereotypes in its depiction of gay characters. And Just Like That neatly solved that PR problem by introducing a character of color to befriend each of the white leading ladies. While the approach may be formulaic, each of the new characters is well-formed, with hints of their own larger storylines to come. Miranda’s professor Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman) is experiencing infertility, while Charlotte’s new friend Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) is an it-girl whose life may not be all that it seems. Will Che’s storyline have something to do with Miranda? Ramirez seemed to hint at it in a recent interview with The New York Post, saying that “Che is very much a sexually empowered person, and they do not shy away from getting to know people.”
Although it remains to be seen where And Just Like That will take the characters of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte, you can get a hint of what’s to come from Is There Still Sex in the City? It’s the latest book from author Candace Bushnell, whose envelope-pushing sex columns formed the basis of Sex and the City. She’s real-life Carrie Bradshaw! Now in her 60s, Bushnell has written candidly about her experience dating after going through a divorce in her 50s. She has also seemingly changed her tune about the importance of having children, telling The Sunday Times in a 2020 interview that “people with children have an anchor in a way that people who have no kids don’t.”
“Then when I got divorced and I was in my 50s, I started to see the impact of not having children and of truly being alone,” Bushnell said.
One of the major themes of And Just Like That is that Carrie is not alone because of her friends. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder…will Carrie and Big’s decision not to start a family become part of the storyline? Will she have any regrets? If so, it will be a huge 180-degree turn from the original Sex and the City, which featured Samantha Jones throwing an “I’m not having a baby” shower just to celebrate being single and fabulous.
And Just Like That is an enjoyable show for fans who want to know how Carrie Bradshaw is doing more than 20 years after the original show premiered, but it’s unclear whether this new show will break ground or just bend over backwards to conform to today’s gender politics. But most importantly, it’s giving Carrie a chance to start over, and I’m excited to see where the journey takes her.