‘And Just Like That...’: A Handy Breakdown of the Show’s Screw-Ups

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Three women in colorful, stylist outfits stand together in a line, one shocked, one smiling, one distracted.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) leave 'Sex and the City' (and Kim Cattrall's Samantha) behind, in 'And Just Like That...' (HBO)

And just like that, Sex and the City's legacy got pummeled into the dirt. In December, the reboot no one was sure they even wanted came stomping in, Manolos wobbling, Samantha missing, determined to appear relevant in 2022, no matter the cost. And oh, what a train wreck it has been. The season one finale airs on Feb. 3, but getting through the first nine episodes has been a marathon of cringe. You thought 2010's barrel-scraping Sex and the City 2 movie made you want to crawl under the nearest table? And Just Like That... just arrived, screamed "Hold my beer!" and kicked that table across the room.

Here are the ways it has most failed its audience.

The worst sex scenes in history

Let's just go ahead and assume they had to remove the word "sex" from the show's title because of AJLT's unholy marriage to the kind of physical intimacy that makes you want to never, ever have sex again.

A woman with a partially shaved head embraces another woman with a grey bob. The first woman covers the mouth of the second woman during a passionate embrace. They are standing near a stove.
Che and Miranda have all the sexual chemistry of a raccoon trying to hump a possum. 'And Just Like That...' has failed to notice this. (HBO)

Some examples of unsexy sex we've had to witness in this show:

  • Miranda and Che's kitchen finger bang incident, directly juxtaposed with Carrie literally peeing the bed in the next room.
  • Miranda attempting to re-live the kitchen finger bang incident via Steve who, despite being great in bed in SATC, has forgotten how to do third base now.
  • Lily walking in on her mom (Charlotte) orally pleasuring her dad (Harry) in a scene that also included a shiny, bouncing, fully erect, obviously fake penis. (Ew.)
  • Miranda continuing to masturbate while conducting a conversation with her 17-year-old son Brady through the bedroom door. (EW.)
  • Brady getting cowgirled by his girlfriend in the same house he shares with his parents. (This one was more upsetting than all of the teen sex scenes in Euphoria, combined.)

Nothing about this show is sexy. Nothing. Even the silver fox Carrie went on a date with in episode seven ended up spewing everywhere. (Really, who can blame him?)

Making it seem like being friends with Black and brown people is hard

SATC was too white and we all know it—and getting Carrie a sassy Black assistant (played by the wonderful Jennifer Hudson) in the first movie didn't move things along much. But watching Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte each simultaneously acquiring A New Black or Brown Friend throughout AJLT has been clunky as hell.

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Charlotte trying to find a second Black couple to invite to dinner, so Lisa and her husband won't be the only one there? Awful. Carrie dealing with overbearing Indian parents at Seema's Diwali party? Totally unnecessary. And Miranda mistaking her professor, Nya, for a student while making a comment about her braids? Nightmare fuel. ("Hair has nothing whatsoever to do with appropriateness, or intelligence or gravitas, obviously," Miranda fumbles.)

Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, wearing traditional Indian clothing and greeting Seema's parents.
Dear television, why is it always the parents of ethnic minorities that get presented as nagging their adult children to get married? White parents do this all the damn time as well.

The problem with AJLT is that rather than just seamlessly incorporating Lisa, Seema and Nya as new, fabulous characters, the show attempts to use them as learning tools. This, in turn, means AJLT spends a lot of time focusing on the rich, white women’s discomfort with people of color instead of giving their new friends their own storylines. SATC was weird because it ignored the fact that people living in diverse cities tend to have diverse friend groups. But the weirdest part about AJLT is how Lisa, Seema and Nya have little to do beyond teaching Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda lessons.

Everything that happens when Che Diaz is in the room

Che (played by Sara Ramirez) is a nonbinary stand-up comedian who isn't funny but still somehow has a Netflix special in the show. Miranda gets wide-eyed and laughs uproariously every time they open their mouth, and watching Miranda (Miranda!) fan-girling is almost as bad as watching Brady have sex.

When Che is not doing terrible stand-up, they are making an "edgy" podcast that isn't very edgy, incessantly smoking weed (even in elevators—so rude), being aggravatingly cocky, and posing for photos with cartoon versions of what baby boomers think queer people look like. Which is this, incidentally:

Here is an exchange between Miranda and Che that was in no way sarcastic:

Che: You look especially pretty tonight.
Miranda: And you look especially... whatever acceptable, non-polarizing, gender-positive compliment that you feel comfortable with.
Che: You are a lot of fun.

Che is a character AJLT made up to teach old, straight folks what nonbinary means. For the rest of us watching, the after-school-special-ness of it is excruciating. What would have been far more engaging is if a little extra time was dedicated to Rock—Charlotte's nonbinary child—and the learning curve Charlotte is on. (Oh, and if AJLT really wanted to make up for the former sins of SATC, it should've introduced a major trans woman character this season. No one was done a greater disservice in the original series than the trans sex workers of season three.)

Equating hearing loss with unattractiveness

For a show that's this desperate to prove how woke it is, it has done a terrible job on the ableism front. (Miranda recovered from her alcohol dependency literally overnight! Because she felt like it!)

Much is made of the fact that Steve (played by David Eigenberg) is living with hearing loss and now needs to wear hearing aids—something apparently inspired by Eigenberg's real-life experience. That's all well and good, but for some reason this development has turned Steve into a bumbling, sexless, shouting idiot-man that Miranda is constantly embarrassed by.

Only in episode nine, after Miranda has already left him for Che, do we get to see the Steve we love and remember. It's too little, too late.

Carrie's "grief"

SATC spent six seasons and a movie hammering in the point, over and over again, that Mr. Big was the love of Carrie's life. So when that nasty Peloton bike went and drove him to a heart attack in the first episode, I really hoped it would give AJLT something meaty to dig into. A well thought-out grief arc for Carrie could have been a total game-changer.

Instead, Carrie's grief in AJLT has manifested thusly:

  • Going for a few long walks
  • Finding a box of records and looking a bit sad
  • Telling Miranda not to argue with Charlotte because "people are gone in a second"
  • A book-writing/seasons changing montage
  • Wearing Big's wedding ring for a day
A woman with long wavy blonde hair sits in a window, wearing a green shirt, behind an open Apple laptop, looking thoughtfully out to the horizon.
Carrie, doing a grief. (HBO)

I know that everyone grieves differently, and that it's hard to convey on TV, but AJLT has Carrie whitewashing her and Big's luxurious home—sentimentality be damned!—and moving out immediately. Just so the audience can see her in her little apartment again like the good old days. It also has her quipping her way through hip surgery just two months after Big's death. Carrie was more upset when Big moved to Paris in season two of the original show, for crying out loud! At least a Filet-O-Fish got chucked across the room that time!

Which brings us to...

Established characters doing things their characters would never do

Did the writers of AJLT even watch Sex and the City before they started writing this thing? Because this show does not seem to know the histories of any of the main characters beyond the most superficial of elements.

Carrie—whose entire career was founded on talking about sex—is now the kind of human who can't bring herself to answer a question about masturbation on a podcast. Samantha—once the kind of friend who ditched out on work to literally spoon-feed a heartbroken Carrie—has abandoned all of her friends (and her beloved New York!) and moved to London because Carrie didn't want Samantha to be her publicist anymore. (Why would Sam ditch all of her friends over this? It doesn't make a modicum of sense.) Stanford—sweet, sensitive Stanford who just wants to be loved for who he is—ditches his husband Anthony (the only good thing left from the original show, by the way) to go to Japan to tour with a TikTok star. I mean... on what planet?

Of course Willie Garson's untimely death and Kim Cattrall's unwillingness to return to the cast posed challenges for the show's writers. But perhaps if more time had been spent planning classier, more character-appropriate exits, AJLT wouldn't have been such a disaster from the get-go.

No character gets a worse deal than Miranda. In the original SATC, Miranda was practical, no nonsense and focused on her career. In AJLT, Miranda is careless, unlikeable and makes sex noises that resemble an angry cow. She's also suddenly a simpleton that has no idea how to talk to Black people, despite living in NYC for 35 years and having had a serious relationship with at least one Black man. (Remember Blair Underwood in SATC season six? How could anyone forget Blair Underwood in season six?!)

Watching Miranda blow up her life and 18-year marriage for a romance with Che—basically three weeks of sex, after a three-month wait to get a text returned—has been agony to watch. For Miranda to be given the line, "I'm living in a rom-com, Carrie!"—after being the one to tell Carrie "You're living in a fantasy!" in season six—isn't just a kick in the chops for the old Miranda, it's a middle finger to her fans too.

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Episode nine was the first of AJLT to find something resembling a natural rhythm. So, who knows? Perhaps the finale will redeem this series on some level. But for now, let's just call And Just Like That... what it was: absolutely baffling.