Sex and the City is my favorite show, and I was counting down the days to the premiere of its reboot season, And Just Like That…. The reboot follows the present-day lives of its predecessor’s characters nearly twenty years after its conclusion, but sadly, the producers’ efforts to make the reboot push as many boundaries as the original leaves a taste of gross overcompensation in my mouth.
Samantha Jones was the lifeblood of Sex and the City, bringing humor and charm to her relatively predictable friends. I support Kim Catrall’s decision against returning to act in the reboot, following personal conflicts with lead actress Sarah Jessica Parker and payroll disputes. With that said, I conclusively stand against the production team’s decision to make the show without her. Maybe I am a pessimist, but there is no one walking this planet that could make Sex and the City what it is beside her.
The show was destined to be terrible without Samantha, which is why even the showrunners’ best efforts to salvage her universally loved character could never have been enough. Her appearance in the show was through a few short texts to Carrie, the show’s protagonist, after it was revealed that Samantha left the friend group. A couple of scenes depicted Samantha’s distanced care for the girls, like her purchase of flowers for Big’s funeral, but without Catrall’s stellar performance there was no way to convey Samantha’s sarcastic charm. I suppose I’m glad they didn’t kill her off, but I spent every episode missing her progressive and perfect character.
Sex and the City was a groundbreaking piece of feminist media at the turn of the century, but it was ultimately a product of its time and has aged a bit questionably when examined through a present-day lens. The creators knew that there were stains of intolerance on the show’s reputation, and they were tasteless in trying to combat that image in the reboot. Instead of developing truly comprehensive POC and queer characters in the show, the writers used minorities as props and plotlines to check off a diversity box in order to assuage their white guilt.
As a person of color, I am in favor of representation in media and have experienced the effects of misrepresentation within the homogeneity of Hollywood. Unfortunately, the irresponsible thought process behind making every new character fall into a minority identity category came across like a sorority being exposed for racism then using their members of color in all their Instagram photos afterwards.
It seemed as though the production team feared the reboot would push less boundaries than the original and decided to go so far in the direction of wokeness that the show unintentionally became a caricature of Hollywood’s efforts towards inclusion. The three main characters of And Just Like That… are white women. Since the writers couldn’t change anyone’s race, they – of course – had to make somebody gay. It couldn’t have been Carrie, because queer people can only be supporting characters without the show becoming entirely queer. It couldn’t have been Charlotte, because prudes can’t also be gay. So by process of elimination we get Miranda in her queer era.
With the production team down a main character, it would have been so much more valuable to develop an existing character’s relationship to their queerness. Anthony was openly gay from his debut in season 3, and with the death of Willie Garson who played Anthony’s husband, it would have been nice to see his plotline showcased more instead of haphazardly making Miranda queer.
Despite glaring plot holes and production missteps, the spirit of Sex and the City somehow remained alive. There was something truly je ne se quoi about watching Carrie spill a Diet Peach Snapple bottle of her own urine on her bed while Miranda hooked up with Carrie’s boss a room over (one of my favorite scenes in the history of the franchise). And Charlotte’s child’s “they mitzvah,” catered by Anthony’s provocative, male-model-run, bakery delivery service and complete with rainbow yamakas for guests. I applaud the show’s team for sustaining the perfectly absurd situational comedy quintessential to the original series.
And as long as the clothes are good, I will continue watching anything Sex and the City. The costume team was absolutely outstanding for the reboot, blending modern trends with recognizable pieces from the original. Whether a ploy to sell the show on nostalgia or not, I’m buying whatever costume designer Patricia Fields puts in front of me. There were moments where I audibly gasped and squealed because of the emotions her costuming elicited. Carrie’s tangerine Valentino gown, paired with hot pink leather opera gloves and a perfectly nostalgic Eiffel Tower bejeweled bag, worn in the finale was so powerfully styled that it wrapped the show better than any written dialogue could have. Fields said more with that ensemble than director and writer Michael Patrick King could have ever attempted alone. The show’s costuming was a force of nature and the main reason I believe we should all still give And Just Like That… a watch.
I was incredibly disappointed in And Just Like That…. But at its heart, the show was still undeniably Sex and the City, which is why I don’t regret watching all of it twice.
Rating: I N D Y
Olivia Baisier is a sophomore in the College studying JUPS and Journalism.