The men were always beside the point on Sex and the City. Despite dissecting them down to their semen over brunch, the truest love was between the core four, and as Carrie narrated in the final moments of the original series finale, “the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” The HBO Max sequel And Just Like That, however, is taking the idea of extraneous men to an extreme, all but reducing the guys to pharmaceutical pamphlets on aging. In the scant scenes in which they appear, Steve (David Eigenberg) can’t hear Miranda, or his son’s enthusiastic thrusting, through his faulty hearing aid; Harry (Evan Handler) is due for a colonoscopy; and Big is dead. Not to emphatically ride for middle-aged cis white males, but in a series that aims to tackle the complexities of women getting older, the men are getting short shrift.
Once upon a time, John “Mr. Big” Preston, Steve Brady, and Harry Goldenblatt were the real ones who captured our flawed heroines’ hearts. (Pour one out for Samantha’s Absolut Hunk, Smith Jarrod [played by Jason Lewis], who would surely be influencing by day and navigating consensual non-monogamy by night in 2022.) Each of these characters were, in some ways, foils: Steve served as a grounding force to Miranda’s Big Law partner energy, showing her tenderness and giving her (even if accidentally, through his sole remaining testicle) a son. Harry was the brash, big-hearted mensch Charlotte didn’t know she needed after the WASP nightmare of Trey. Love or hate him, Big (may he RIP) represented the white whale of the Manhattan dating scene, an emotionally mysterious, stoic complement to Carrie’s never-ending analyses.
All were supporting characters, but we knew these fictional men and cared about at least some of them, far more than the fleeting Funky Spunk or Mr. Pussy. We knew Steve dreamed of opening his own bar (but with Aidan, really?) and that Harry felt strongly about marrying within the Jewish faith. We were aware Big had a heart problem, via his candy striper Carrie, long before Peloton was a glimmer in the collective bougie eye. They held up mirrors to the women too, revealing what they did and didn’t want and humbling them when they needed it (and they all needed it).
In And Just Like That, the surviving male partners feel forgotten. Big is the only actual dead one, but all of the guys seem like ghosts of themselves. Whatever happened to Steve as a bar owner—especially after the devastating blow dealt by the pandemic? Might he be as lost as Miranda in middle age? Even when they were breaking up, Steve and Miranda were always, fundamentally, great friends, making it hard to believe these two wouldn’t be in couples therapy. (That’s a dynamic I’d love to see onscreen, not to mention a plum guest-star casting opportunity.) Steve primarily just loafs—in bed or on the couch—leaving us to wonder if Miranda even attempts to sex him on their Netflix-and-chill nights, only to be rebuffed, or is it the other way around? What does it look like, exactly, to not have sex for years? For a show fond of double entendres, there must be a parallel to be drawn between Steve literally and figuratively not hearing her. (It’s not that Steve losing his hearing doesn’t have a place in this story, by the way, just that it shouldn’t be his central personal trait.)