And Just Like That: Season 1 REVIEW – A Hot Mess

The show hasn't quite found its groove yet. Could a second season turn things around?

And Just Like That
And Just Like That

I’m a Sex and the City girl — I’ve watched the series and films more times than I can count. As we saw with the mediocre movies, sometimes more isn’t always better, and while they are highly consumable garbage, they weren’t authentic in the way the series was. So, when I heard about the reboot, I wasn’t optimistic, especially since the show would be carrying on without Kim Cattrall’s iconic Samantha Jones.

Yet, I wanted to feel hopeful, I wanted the reboot to be enjoyable and relatable in the way Sex and the City was. I also liked the direction of the new show, since there aren’t many TV shows focused on the dating lives of older women in their 50s. To say I was disappointed with where we ended up is something of an understatement. However, there’s a spark of promise in some of these storylines, and if we get Season 2, it’s possible that the series could improve.

Or maybe I’m deluded.

Firstly, the format of the show has changed. Before, we had Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) narration of her column connecting all the plotlines together. Now that Carrie isn’t writing her column anymore, it didn’t make sense to have the narration be a part of the show. Without Carrie’s narration, all the plotlines feel so disconnected, with each character’s arc now a series-long affair as opposed to episodic.

In the original show, Carrie was the main character, so the episode’s main plot was always related to her, with the other three women holding narrative threads that link back to this bigger plot. In a way, each episode is a perfect standalone, while all still connected to a bigger picture. And Just Like That has a structure that is more drama than comedy, so the payoffs and resolutions only come at the end of the season, and now, the three women are all main characters.

Carrie’s part of a podcast just for fun, since she doesn’t need to work for a living. Miranda’s (Cynthia Nixon) no longer a lawyer, making the decision to go back to school in the wake of the big changes that rocked the world in 2020. And Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is a full-time mom to her two children. The three women lead very different lives, so it makes sense that their friendship isn’t the rock that it used to be, and that they have their own friends independent of the group.

While I agree that this is realistic, it also dilutes one of the best parts of the show, which is the table conversations. Whenever Carrie and the gang met for brunch, lunch, dessert, dinner or drinks, it felt like real gal pals having real conversations. That same energy isn’t present in And Just Like That. Maybe it’s because the actresses haven’t played these characters in over 20 years, so the scenes come across as more ‘acted’ than authentic.

Sarah Jessica Parker seems the most in tune to her character, though I wish that the dialogue allowed her to be more comedic. Carrie was really funny – I think all of us can remember that “Are you comic?” Petrovsky line – and much of that came from her being a writer. She’s not even funny on the podcast, not that the podcast itself offers any laughs — I have absolutely no idea how Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) made any money from that. Che is Carrie’s boss at the podcast, and is also Miranda’s love interest for the series. What about Steve (David Eigenberg)? Well, Miranda seems to have forgotten all about him, and desperately wants to escape their boring, married life.

I understand the intention of the storyline – after all, Miranda seems the most affected by all the changes happening in the world, it could have set off a mid-life crisis, which is why she decided to go back to school, and why a romance with Che would be so appealing. Miranda and Steve haven’t always had the most smooth-sailing of relationships, and they have gone into ruts quite a fair bit. So explore that, show that, help us understand why she makes the decisions she makes.

I’ve never seen Miranda so cold-hearted and mean as she is in this series. Her treatment of Steve, her condescension about heaven when Carrie is speaking about her dead husband, how she hooked up with Che when she was supposed to be taking care of Carrie post-hip surgery – I don’t know who this character is anymore. Is this the same woman who bathed Steve mom’s during her health crisis, or followed Charlotte all the way home to make sure she was okay? I don’t know if this Miranda plotline is meant for a bigger picture that I’m just not seeing yet, but it really sucks to see characters you were so fond of become unrecognisable.

Charlotte definitely got the better deal when it came to character arcs – how she and Harry (Evan Handler) dealt with all the changes pertaining to Rock (Alexa Swinton), as well as her cute and relatable moments with Lily (Cathy Ang). Even though Davis does over act sometimes, like in that fight with Harry after the tennis match, everything still feels authentic to Charlotte, while also leaving room for acceptance and growth. Also, we get Anthony because of Charlotte, and I’ve never been more grateful for that. Mario Cantone is the one bright spot of humour in the show, and is always dependable for a laugh or to stick it to Carrie.

Carrie’s story was probably the most compelling of all – grief after a spouse’s death, adapting to life without them, the awkward dating phase, as well as dealing with ageing in a society obsessed with youth and beauty. Her new friendship with Seema is one of the better parts of the show, and while Seema does feel like a Samantha replacement, Sarita Choudhury is so cool that I don’t even care.

I was rewatching Sex and the City with my husband – who stopped at Season 2 and was game to start again – while watching And Just Like That on my own, and the contrast in quality is very apparent. Even though Sex and the City is far from perfection, what the show excelled at was having the characters interact with the world outside them. Carrie’s whole apartment situation, the Manhattan vs. Brooklyn conversation when Miranda and Steve moved, trying hot new restaurants or scamming their way into cool hangouts – New York was real and present. Now, everyone’s rich with no money troubles, and the setting’s devoid of personality.

And yet, even after my massive disappointment in how the season turned out, is it strange to say I still have hope? With better writing and more episodes per season, they could turn things around. If not, there’s always Sex and the City.

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And Just Like That
And Just Like That will never live up to its predecessor. But maybe, with better writers, it could become a competent show.