And Just Like That… it’s 2022, and fans of the original Sex and the City are abuzz from Los Angeles to Lagos following the beloved show’s reboot on HBO Max. And Just Like That drops us right into the tail end of 2021 (minus Omicron), with the three 50-somethings reunited over luncheon.
The first episode of the reboot addressed the absence of Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and killed off Mr. Big (Chris North) – only weeks before the press swirled with accusations of sexual aggravation against him.
Sarah Jessica Parker carries the new 10-episode series, but both original characters and new faces are given more extensive storylines and screen time. Noticeably updated from the original Sex and the City series is a more diverse cast; and while the main characters all dwell within a world of privilege and excess, the representation matters.
Cynthia Nixon recently spoke to News Corps about the importance that diversity played in her decision to participate in the reboot. “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.
Both the original series and the reboot haven’t strayed away from putting privileged people into awkward positions. Nixon’s character repeatedly puts her foot in her mouth during a class session during which she discovered the professor is a black woman with dreads. Parker, now a podcaster, gets put on the spot about, eh, self-pleasure and sidesteps the question. Later, off air, the co-host of the podcast dresses her down for avoiding the topic.
The biggest plot twist of the first episode was the long-rumored death of a main character. Mr. Big, following a session on his Peloton, has a heart attack alone in the apartment and is dead when Carrie returns later from attending a piano recital. Fans were outraged. From the fact that Carrie didn’t call 9-11 on-screen to the massive disappointment of not seeing Mr. Big and Carrie grow old together, social media was livid with the And Just Like That writers. Armed with memes from the original series and plays-on-words worthy of a Carrie Bradshaw column, fans decried (and cried) the untimely death.
Fan favorites continue to make returns in the revival, mostly in thanks to Parker. “I had all of the original stuff in my own storage. Furniture, clothes, everything, packed according to season and episode and scene,” Parker said. On set, she points out the black rotary phone on a peeling white chair by the bed, the round midcentury coffee table, the stacks of old Vogue magazines crowding the bookshelves, all as familiar as objects from a dream. Then there’s the closet.
“I kept every single solitary thing,” Parker said. She begins to rifle through the items, now hanging neatly in the wardrobe. She pulls out the pair of tiny bedazzled Dolce & Gabbana briefs, featured in the season four episode in which Carrie wipes out on the runway; the white denim cutoffs she wore when smoking a bong with her much younger comics-store-clerk boyfriend in season three; the tawny fur coat she bundled up in when sitting on a stoop with the golden-showers-loving politician she briefly dated, also in season three.
And then, of course, there are the vertiginous Manolos: “Here are the Hangisis Big gave Carrie when he proposed; the sandals Aidan’s dog chewed on; the black pumps she wore to the Vogue fashion closet.…” But wait doesn’t Carrie live in the big apartment that Big bought her? What does she need this apartment with all this stuff in it for? Parker pauses, turning away for a moment from her spectacular cache. “One of the questions that’s going to come up in And Just Like That… will be, What is it about a place like this that you need to hold on to for all these years?” she finally says. “Why can’t you just let it go?”