Who among us can have it all in New York City? In the 1990s and 2000s, the answer to that question vis-à-vis “Sex and the City,” was: four white women.
Sure, Carrie’s apartment wasn’t a dream penthouse and she stored her sweaters in the oven, but she shopped until she dropped and she certainly wasn’t sharing her living space with her gal pals unless they were coming over for martinis. The original four had careers that were taking off, family money and connections, invitations to every desirable social engagement and love lives that matched the frenzy of the storylines.
This time around, the SATC reboot, “And Just Like That…” was under pressure from the network, the stars, the fans and the critics alike to represent a broader spectrum of characters living their New York City dreams. And while the characters all still exist in nearly unattainable world of luxury and comfort for most New Yorkers, so do (unapologetically) we. These characters are us. And this time around, goodness, some of the new characters even look more like us.
HBO Max teased the diversity over the summer and had us all on the edge of our seats for episode 1, wherein we are introduced to four new supporting characters: LTW or Lisa Todd Wexley (cover girl Nicole Ari Parker), Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), Chez Diaz (Sara Ramirez) and Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury).
On the new series, Nicole Ari Parker plays Lisa Todd Wexley, a documentarian and mother of three who is married to a hedge fund banker. Lisa is introduced in one of the very first scenes of the show as she runs into Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda during brunch. She’s close with Charlotte, as their kids both take piano lessons together.
Karen Pittman plays Dr. Nya Wallace, a professor at Columbia Law School. Though her character crosses paths with Carrie and Charlotte throughout the season, she mostly interacts with Miranda in the first two episodes as she teaches Miranda’s law class. They have an awkward first encounter as Miranda puts her foot in her mouth during her first class, though Pittman told the New York Post that the two eventually become good friends as the series progresses.
“Nya really loves her life,” Pittman said. “She does encounter some obstacles … Miranda helps her work those things out. She goes through just normal everyday things that women navigate through as they realize themselves in the world. Part of what we start out knowing from the start [of the show] is that relationships change over time.”
On the new series, Sara Ramírez plays Che Diaz, a non-binary, queer stand-up comedian who appears on a podcast with Carrie. In the first two episodes, we get a better glimpse of their dynamic as coworkers and friends. After a conversation on the podcast leaves Carrie feeling timid, Che pushes Carrie to open up more and get out of her comfort zone.
“They are a very dynamic, funny character that comes in and sort of challenges other characters’ internalized oppression,” Ramírez said about their character. “They are a character who unapologetically speaks their truth.”
Sarita Choudhury plays Seema Patel, a real estate broker in the city. Unlike the rest of the new characters, Seema doesn’t appear in the first two episodes, but she emerges as Carrie is looking at real estate options. “She’s a fancy lady — high powered, wears very expensive clothes, has a very strong New York but maybe European flair,” Choudhury told the New York Post. “She’s opinionated and is very current as well. She’s on all the apps and has no problem with dating sites. She navigates the world at ease. Seema speaks her mind — so even if there is a contentious moment, it’s revolved in five minutes.” Choudhury added that she looked at actresses like Katharine Hepburn and “early Sigourney Weaver” for inspiration on “how Seema carries herself.”
“Initially, you see her in her job. And as you move along, you get to see a little bit of her personal life,” Choudhury said. “Seema is a very private person, but loud on the outside. And you start seeing that private side toward the end [of the season].”
In late December, Cynthia Nixon, who portrays Miranda, spoke candidly about being unsure she would participate in the reboot, largely due to the lack of diversity the first time around (as well as during the two SATC movies). “It was a very hard decision. I really didn’t think I was going to do it – I was very reluctant. But the more I talked to Sarah Jessica and Kristin (Davis), about the things that I couldn’t go back without – a real sea change in terms of the lack of diversity in the original series, they were on board,” Nixon said.
So, in 2022, And Just Like That… once again asks and answers the question, Who can have it all? And this time the answer is, just about any one of us.