This week’s episode was a treat for anyone who’s been waiting for the “Sex and the City” revival to feel more like “Sex and the City.”
Maybe it was just a matter of waiting for a series to hit its stride, or maybe it was the magic of the Carrie necklace, but for anyone who’s been hoping that “And Just Like That …” would feel more like “Sex and the City,” this was your week.
In the opening scene of this week’s episode, we find our leading lady, as we’ve seen her so many times before, perched in the window of her walk-up apartment, writing in the glow of her MacBook, a flicker of Y2K Carrie. Days and nights pass, and seasons change, letting us know that a chunk of time has gone by. That fast-forward proves vital because it needs to feel appropriate for Carrie to start dating again — so she can both sell her new book and liven up this show.
All that typing has led to “Loved & Lost,” Carrie’s latest memoir, which delves into the death of Big. If that sounds dark and sad, it is, which is the exact issue her editor, Amanda (Ashlie Atkinson), has with the story.
“You’re known for writing ‘Sex and the City!’” Amanda tells Carrie, “If we publish this as is, I’m worried your readers are going to pitch themselves out the window clutching their tubs of Häagen-Dazs.” What the story needs, Amanda says, is a “glimmer of hope” that joy is still out there for Carrie.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s a direct parallel to what has been happening with the series. Carrie Bradshaw the writer has an audience, a legacy to uphold. So does Carrie Bradshaw the TV character. Both have longtime fans who expect a certain thing: a fun, pun-filled gal about town whom we can live and love vicariously through.
The ‘Sex and the City’ Universe
The sprawling franchise revolutionized how women were portrayed on the screen. And the show isn’t over yet.
- A New Series: Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte return for another strut down the premium cable runway in “And Just Like That,” streaming on HBO.
- Off Broadway: Candace Bushnell, whose writing gave birth to the “Sex and the City” universe, stars in her one-woman show based on her life.
- In Carrie’s Footsteps: “Sex and the City” painted a seductive vision of Manhattan, inspiring many young women to move to the city.
- The Origins: For the show’s 20th anniversary in 2018, Bushnell shared how a collection of essays turned into a pathbreaking series.
Reasonable people could argue that we, the viewing public, just like they, the fictional reading public, need to let Carrie move on and stop demanding that she show up exactly how she used to. But we haven’t been very good at that. The internet has let out a collective sigh that “And Just Like That …” doesn’t have quite the same magic as “Sex and the City,” in part because all of the formerly charismatic single characters are either married off, mourning or masturbating their way through sexual frustration.
The antidote to that — for the book and for the series — is some good old-fashioned dating. Amanda tells Carrie to go out with at least one guy so she can whip up an epilogue that gives the whole story a little lift. So she does, and in doing so, we get that lift on our TV screens as well.
Seema, who is now occupying Samantha’s chair at the four-top, took it upon herself to sign Carrie up for some dating apps, and late at night, Carrie finds herself swiping. Eventually, she settles on a widower, Peter (Jon Tenney), and later, as they sit down to dinner, they figure out that this is the first date for each of them since their spouses passed. Carrie and Peter order drinks, and the next thing we know, they’re spilling out of the restaurant in a fit of giggles, almost stumbling over each other until they both puke their guts out at the curb.
It’s absurd, and not really believable, but it’s fun, and it’s fodder for cocktail talk at Charlotte’s school fund-raiser, where the whole gang (except Steve — we’ll get to him in a minute) gathers to support their friend. Among the items up for grabs at a high-priced auction: a date with a beloved sex columnist, Carrie.
The event is M.C.’ed by Herbert and Lisa, whom Charlotte is trying endlessly to impress. Earlier in the episode, she and Harry played tennis with them, and it got so competitive that Charlotte knocked Harry onto the ground in an attempt to win the game, leading to an utterly ridiculous but entirely realistic argument afterward. (Charlotte and Harry win the match, for what it’s worth, but they also kind of lose it when Herbert and Lisa catch them fighting.) As any good marriage counselor will tell you, fights among longtime couples are rarely about the things that initiated them — this one seems to be more about mansplaining, insecurity and society’s expectation that women always apologize.
It is also the exact scene we needed to ground Charlotte and Harry’s relationship in anything like reality — we’ve barely seen them look at each other sideways since they walked down the aisle, let alone have an actual spat. Charlotte got so hot, she even dropped an F bomb, something we rarely (if ever?) see her do. I feel more connected to her character now than I have in years.
But there is other behind-the-scenes drama at the fund-raiser. Months have gone by since Miranda’s tryst with Che, and her DM to Che has gone unanswered. Inexplicably, Carrie forgot to mention that Che would be performing at the event, so when Che bounds onstage, Miranda is caught off guard. She had tried in an early scene to revive her physical chemistry with Steve, but it collapsed into anxieties over lube and leftovers. (She apparently has a thing for sex in kitchens.) As she later told Carrie, she feels doomed to live like a sexual zombie for the rest of her life.
That is, until she runs into Che again. She had all but given up on Che, but now she can’t resist the urge to reconnect. She is at the party stag, so there’s opportunity. Steve’s absence goes unaddressed — it seems as if the two simply don’t hang out often.
Miranda tries to be stoic, feigning apathy that Che didn’t return her message — or, apparently, her feelings — but all that falls apart when Che proposes that they spend the night together. The two fall right into bed, and Miranda seems not to give Steve a second thought.
“I’m in love with you,” Miranda tells Che as she bathes in the afterglow. “You’re in love with you, with me,” Che replies.
That might be true. It also might be an incredibly kind way for Che to let Miranda know that she shouldn’t walk away from her marriage to pursue some happily ever after with Che — because Che doesn’t really do that whole scene.
We’ll see. In any case, it’s hard to imagine seeing Miranda resign herself once again to her living-dead marriage.
As for Carrie, there’s a sign of life. Peter shows up to the school benefit as well (apparently this party is the place to be in New York!) and ends up placing the winning bid on another date with Carrie.
To be honest, I don’t really see it with Carrie and Peter — at least not yet. He reminds me of the “good on paper” guy Carrie dated years ago in the Hamptons, whom she wasn’t really into. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Carrie’s finding love again, but before she moves on for good, I would first like to know whether Aidan is still married. I’m guessing many of you do, too.
Things I Can’t Stop Thinking About:
Are we even rooting for Nya to have a baby? Because it doesn’t seem like that’s what she really wants. Which is fine! Neither did Samantha or Carrie or even Miranda, at first. At this point, she seems to be pursuing a pregnancy mostly to make her kind and devoted husband happy, but it’s 2022, and we all know that’s simply not a good enough reason.
Seeing Steve kindly and considerately wash his hands in the kitchen before the act touched my heart and made me preemptively sad for him that he’s probably about to lose it all.
Of course no one is going to bid on a date (even a lunch date) with anybody (let alone a “sex writer”) at a private-school fund-raiser attended by a slew of Gen X parents. Why did Carrie agree to this?
OK Che, we get it, you smoke a lot of weed. You smoke so much weed you can’t keep your DMs straight. You smoke so much weed that it’s step one in your sex routine. We hear you. You smoke a lot of weed.
Source: Television - nytimes.com