Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first episode of And Just Like That.
With the benefit of hindsight, Sex and the City is perhaps best understood as two shows, not one. Sure, it began as a deep dive into the liberated sex lives and financial independence of professional women in the big city (remember those direct-to-camera scenes with everyday New Yorkers in the first seasons?) and became lauded for its groundbreaking approach to this complicated subject. But eventually, it was something else entirely: a sweeping cultural phenomenon that was as much about escapism, eye-popping fashion, and glamorous vacations as it was about the emotional terrain of dating and finding relationships within a tight-knit group of friends.
If their most recent outing, the 2010 film Sex and the City 2, firmly represented the latter end of the spectrum—the show’s spirit at its most excessive, fanciful, and occasionally problematic—then its latest chapter, And Just Like That…, represents its polar opposite. Yes, our favorite ladies are certainly back—albeit sans Samantha, whose absence is explained via a professional falling-out after Carrie opted to employ the services of another PR. But this time, the show is turning its microscope inward, focusing on the characters’ emotional interior as they reach middle age.
This exploration marks a distinct but welcome tonal shift from the more frivolous moments of seasons past. Major spoiler alert: At the end of the first episode, Big unexpectedly dies, plunging Carrie headfirst into funeral arrangements, grief, and deeper questions about her future. It’s hinted that Miranda may have a drinking problem, while Charlotte’s picture-perfect Upper East Side existence has clearly left her feeling somewhat stagnant. As always, these stories are most meaningfully explored through the prism of the unbreakable bonds of their friendships.
This new iteration of Sex and the City also recognizes that the original show was a product of its time. Even for its most fully paid-up fans (myself very much included), it’s fair to say that many of the show’s plotlines haven’t necessarily aged all that well, even while recognizing how radical they were when they first aired. In place of the original’s lack of diversity and tokenism when it came to sexuality, in the first episode, we meet three new characters who all come with distinctive perspectives that more accurately reflect the social make-up of New York City.