This post contains spoilers for the first episode of “And Just Like That,” the new Sex & the City reboot. I am not responsible should you choose to read further! Also, TV Club (we’ll be discussing the season 3 finale of Succession) is on hold until next week because I got so many messages to write about this show instead!
Whelp. Big is dead. Peloton killed him. And Just Like That is going to be about Carrie grieving the loss of her husband and then presumably starting to date again. Could it end with Aiden and some stepkids? We shall see. All I know is everyone online seems really upset about it (“why can’t they just let Big and Carrie finally enjoy their happy marriage???”) and mad at how they handled Samantha’s absence (“it’s so out of character for Samantha to ghost her friends like that!”), and I feel totally the opposite. I mean, yes, I’m sad Big died, but you can’t exactly have a show about three happily married wealthy white women. Plus, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are in their mid-50s, shit happens and THIS IS LIFE.
I think most of you know that one of my best friends lost her husband a few years ago. In the second episode, Carrie decides the funeral home is all wrong and puts together this very modern memorial service in an all white event space. Miranda speaks, there’s a video montage and the three best friends sit together in the first row for support. My friends did that almost exactly. It all hit so close to home, I told my friend she shouldn’t watch it. And I think because of my friend’s story, quite a few women have shared stories with me about losing their husbands suddenly too. In addition to the women I know who have gotten divorced, I’ve come to see second acts in middle age as quite common and a new opportunity for an alternate, but still happy ending.
As for Samantha acting out of character? YAH. No shit. But that’s true to life too. There are people I knew in my 20s and 30s who I thought I would be friends with forever and I have no idea what they are doing with their lives now. And as many of you know, I had a very recent friend break-up, that if you told me two years ago that we would no longer be speaking, I would not have believed you. I mean, that is what happened, right? Kim Catrall and the real life Sex & the City actresses had a business related falling out which resulted in them cutting each other out of their lives. I bet it surprised the shit out of all of them. Why do we think that Carrie and Samantha should be bigger, better, more forgiving people than the actresses who play them?
I didn’t like the way they handled Samantha’s absence for an entirely different reason. I think they made too much of it, using the dialogue as a way to deliver a message to the audience so that fans of the show took their side— we did everything we could. We don’t understand why she didn’t want to be here. We are all united so obviously we are not the assholes. We love the character of Samantha as much as you do and are not responsible for her absence. To me, saying all that felt petty and mean girl-ish. They should have just left it at— Samantha moved to London. We stayed in contact for awhile but then we lost touch. SUCH IS LIFE. The flowers at the funeral would still have been meaningful, but not so loaded. I keep hearing people say— Samantha would never have missed Big’s funeral!!! And to that I say, in life, people surprise you again and again, and not always in good ways.
To me, that has been the craziest part about getting older. I think of myself as a nice, non-controversial person. But I have had falling outs, family rifts where I had to take sides, friends who have moved to faraway places, divorces where I could only choose one, and people who I no longer speak to for reasons that remain unclear. Did we just drift apart over the natural course of time? Or was there something that happened that I am forgetting?
I loved the moment at the memorial service when the woman came up to Carrie to tell her that she decided to forgive her, let bygones be bygones and show up for her old friend in her time of need, despite past grievances. It’s clear that Carrie had no idea there was ever a rift between them. Her friend obviously put a lot more value on their relationship and had been thinking about their falling out for years, while Carrie didn’t even register her absence. That rang true to me too.
In my post about losing and finding community in NYC, written after my friend Lucy told me she was moving to New Zealand, there were lots of comments from people saying they had experienced similar friendship shifts in the past few years, for various reasons. One person shared a quote from an old professor that she tries to remember whenever she has one of these experiences— “Life is a series of attachments and losses.” It occurred to me that while dealing with Lucy’s news (in addition to the friend break-up), I kept thinking about what I did wrong in my life to find myself in this position. Should I have put more effort into maintaining certain friendships? Did I invest too much time in the wrong people? What this quote made me realize is that loss is inevitable. You could lose a friend because you did wrong or because that person wronged you, or it could be that a friendship made sense at one point in your life and then you grew apart, or it could be purely circumstantial. I read somewhere that most friendships are on a life cycle of seven years. You will have a few close friends with you for life, but a lot more that fluctuate due to convenience— where you go to school, your kids’ ages, your co-workers at your current company, etc. These things change and shift over time, not because you made bad choices, but because it’s just a part of life.
Bottom line— Big dying and the unexplainable falling out with Samantha sound about right for a group of women in their 50s. I think a lot of the people writing commentary about the show are actually much younger (they watched the show on re-runs or streaming platforms and not when it originally aired) and don’t yet realize what life has in store.
Another thing I want to address is Miranda. I saw a tiktok where a twenty-something was saying there was no way Miranda would be that clueless about race and racism in 2021. After all, Miranda was always the smartest, most progressive one of the bunch and has been living in NYC for the past 30 years. But, I think younger people are failing to recognize that Miranda has been raising her son all this time. When I think back to the first ten years of parenthood, there is a huge gaping hole of knowledge around pop culture, current events and social issues. It honestly wasn’t until 2016 that a lot of us woke up and saw what had been going on around us while we were busy with bath time, potty training and homework help. Parenthood is its own little bubble. I’ve heard people say they’re mad the writers made Miranda into Boomer Karen. NO. Miranda is not a Boomer or a Karen. Miranda is a well-intentioned Gen X white woman who put her foot in her mouth and then didn’t know how to get it out. To the kids in the class, she might look like Boomer Karen for not recognizing her Black professor due to her braids, but even the professor acknowledged that she had a Halle Berry bob in the school directory and understood Miranda’s confusion.
I like that the SATC reboot is showing liberal middle aged women recognize that we are not considered as progressive as we once thought. Some of it due to perception and some because times are changing and we haven’t been keeping up. This seems to be a theme throughout all the characters’ storylines, which includes Carrie not being as comfortable talking about sex as her younger podcast co-hosts and Charlotte insisting her non-conforming daughter wear a dress. There were a lot of similar themes in The Chair as well (which we discussed in TV Club), which is partly about liberal arts professors failing to understand the needs of their more progressive student body.
I’m not saying the new SATC series is a masterpiece or anything. The writing and the plot lines are just as cliché and ham handed as ever. But that’s the fluff I’ve come to expect. I fully support the broader plot points and I’m interested in seeing older women navigate living in NYC in this phase of their lives. I recently went to a party with a friend that consisted of mostly downtown empty nesters in their 60s, which was so eye opening to me because I had no idea that social scene existed. You just don’t see women over 50 represented much, except as mothers of the main characters, when these women usually have fascinating life stories of their own. I’m most curious about how Carrie is going to deal with Big’s death, because there is no one that society has more opinions about than a grieving widow. I predict “the appropriate amount of time to grieve before dating” will be a BIG TOPIC, both on and off screen. Should be interesting.
Before I sign off, I do agree with one criticism of the show that I’ve been seeing in various Instagram memes. Carrie absolutely should have rushed off to call 911. Big was still alive when she got home!!!!! That was some BULLSHIT.
What do you think of the show so far?
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