When Sex and the City premiered on HBO in 1998, it was packaged as a post-sexual revolution look at four New York City-based professional women pondering the dating and career questions of the day. Based on Candice Bushnell’s bestselling book, the series starred Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, a quirky relationship columnist; Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, a blue-blood gallery administrator with a Pollyanna worldview; Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes, a successful lawyer with a sardonic sense of humor; and Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, a public relations executive with an unabashedly voracious sexual appetite coupled with a flair for the vernacular. The Emmy award-winning series, which ran for six seasons and spawned two full feature films in 2008 and 2010, became a cultural touchstone with women everywhere asking themselves if they were a Carrie, a Charlotte, a Miranda, or a Samantha.
Expectations for the reboot And Just Like That, which debuted its first two episodes on December 9 on HBO were high. After all, it’s been 11 years since Sex and the City II. In addition, since Kim Cattrall opted out reportedly due to a feud with Sarah Jessica Parker, there was a lot of speculation as to how the series would fare without Samantha’s flashy frankness. Furthermore, the unexpected passing this fall of actor Willie Garson, who reprises his role as Carrie’s gay friend Stanford, also sparked interest in the series.
While some of the initial reviews have been mixed, diehard fans won’t be disappointed. What made the original series so successful was not just the blunt, topical conversations about romance and sex, but rather the walk-over-coals-in-spiked-heels friendship between the four women. And despite the absence of Samantha, which is tastefully explained, that loyal sisterhood is abundantly on display. My only bone of contention is the creative decision to kill off Carrie’s longtime love Mr. Big (heartthrob Chris Noth) in the first episode following a now much-publicized Peloton session.
Even AJLT’s bowing to the wokeness du jour by introducing several minority supporting characters who are all presented as being smarter and hipper than our three heroines isn’t as teeth-gnashing as it sounds. And that is largely due to strong writing and good casting. Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez), Carrie’s Hispanic gender-fluid podcast boss, is especially well-drawn.
The reprisal is to be commended for creating credible and relatable post-50 lives for Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda. Not only are we treated to humorous conversations about personal appearance decisions such as to dye or not to dye one’s hair, but we also witness the trio broaching professional and personal crossroads. Miranda, for instance, decided to leave corporate law to go back to school for a master’s degree so that she could pursue a social justice career. Carrie’s involvement in the podcast has taken her out of her comfort zone as the program’s dialogue is far more blatantly sexual than her column or books ever were. And Charlotte, who has been a stay-at-home mom, is focused on helping her children achieve their dreams. AJLT also provides an honest but hopeful portrait of married life after the half-century mark, which is far more about compassionate companionship than lust and longing.
And of course, AJLT still delivers on style with all three ladies dressed in age-appropriate versions of their signature looks. Carrie remains the ultimate fashionista with her accessory flowers, flamboyant hats, and Manolo Blahniks not to mention the rocking little black dress she dons for Big’s funeral.
The big question remains: what happens to Carrie now that her Mr. Big is gone? Like so many other middle-aged and older adults, she is navigating a return to singlehood after so many years of being part of a duo. Will she ever become “the one” for someone else? Or are treasured memories of a past true love sustenance enough?
As Carrie once said, “After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot.” So curl up on a comfy couch with a cosmopolitan. The girls are back!