February 3, 2022
Sex and the City became a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s as four women — Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) spilled the beans on the highs and lows of their love and sex lives as they brunched and partied through New York City in their 30s. The series was far ahead of its time in openly discussing topics ranging from blowjobs to gay marriage to female pleasure. In other ways, the show was stuck in the Stone Age. Plotlines reduced characters of color to IT workers (Aasif Mandvi), waitstaff (Ajay Mehta), and loving partners that miraculously didn’t last (Asio Highsmith as Chivon, Blair Underwood as Dr. Robert Leeds, Sônia Braga as Maria). Of the 107 prospective love interests over six seasons, only three were people of color — and Samantha and Miranda were the only ones who dated them.
So in 2021, when HBO announced a reboot And Just Like That with Parker, Nixon, and Davis returning, the creators knew that something had to change. And it did. The show added four friends of color: Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury), Carrie’s real estate agent-turned-confidante; Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), Charlotte’s wealthy fellow parent and school events organizer; Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), Miranda’s professor-turned-friend; and Che Diaz (Sara Ramírez), a non-binary stand-up comedian and Miranda’s love.
Expectations were running high. But when the episodes finally aired, the show’s attempts to be more self-reflective fell flat and often sounded defensive and cringe-worthy. And Just Like That feels like the characters were in a time bubble and finally woke up after 20-odd years to suddenly discover that people of color and gender identity existed. But perhaps fans are precisely so angry because of what made Sex and the City iconic in the first place.