The much awaited return of the renamed Sex and the City is, in a word, sad
Warning: this post contains language and description that some readers may find offensive. It also reveals some plots points of the show
Sex and the City (SATC) was a made-for-television product of the late Nineties by HBO. The series premiered in 1998, more than two decades ago. Its unnecessary reboot, the 10-episode, now-45-minute-long And Just Like That (AJLT) desperately wants you to believe that the main characters have veritably left that era. But have they? The same blouse unbuttoned does not make the wearer sexier. AJLT is a desperate attempt to bring the women into a post-pandemic world, to show that these Manhattan women in their 50s can be relevant or speak the language of the present age, but not quite the metaverse, yet. The idea is appealing, but the execution forgets that it still needs to charm. AJLT is merely in legacy-protection mode.
When the camera framed the (remaining) three protagonists together in the first three minutes of episode one, we felt like we were seeing scenes and people frozen in time, unruffled by the cyclones of change. They appeared older, no doubt (Charlotte’s and Miranda Hobbes’s kids are teenagers!), but they also looked like they never went further than 2004, when SATC ended. We were still looking at the over-dressing, the It bags (Carrie now carries two at a time!!!) and, gosh, high heels—more! And the action still took place in some hipster eatery. The women still talked about sex—not their own fancy encounters, but Miranda’s, with her son’s spent condom!
The love columnist, now also an unimpressive podcaster, is her usual a-million-things-on-one-body fashionista. In her first appearance, it was busy from the knee up (we had to belief it was still pandemic season?). Her wavy, multi-tone, breast-length hair cascaded from a close-fit cap unto a floral Dries van Noten jacket, cut diagonally by the straps of not one, but two shoulder bags(!): one in black and the other a gold chain. The one with the black—a green bag that was deliberately hung lower—laid on the thigh of her vintage Claude Montana jumpsuit with flowy side panels. We know Carrie is no minimalist. Her tastes border on fashion victimhood. But, was she telling us she could not wait to be all togged up again, now possibly shopping at vintage stores such as Procell? Or, that her obsessions came along with her, right into a new era? Au courant and current must be there!
And her fervid fixations did not stop at clothes and bags, and oversized fabric flowers. As we know, Carrie Bradshaw has a thing for shoes. In one scene, we were reminded of how much she would not let go when she walked into a walk-in wardrobe and came face to face with a cabinet of high heels, and gleefully said, “hello, lovers”. As quickly as our eyes could see, there were no flats, not even a pair of sneakers. In the end, the “iconic” blue Manolo Blahnik ‘Hangisi’ stiletto pumps with the crystal buckle made their obligatory appearance. A throw-back to the scene of the final season of SATC when the wardrobe was empty? Or, the wedding in the film version of the TV series? How much more do we need to be reminded that Carrie is practically wedded to Manolo heels?
To be sure, we watched only the first half of the first episode. So unendurable it was that we did not care to finish, forget moving to the next. In fact, when it was announced right at the beginning, less than a minute into the show, that Samantha Jones had moved to London, after a bad joke about her possibly dead (Charlotte said “she’s no longer with us”), we did not want to go on watching a show we know will still be based on the whiny Carrie Bradshaw (new characters were introduced—expectedly, women of colour, and more decked-up than SATC’s one major black character Louise from St. Louis, played by Jennifer Hudson). Without the PR maverick, there was no one to temper Carrie’s unreasonableness, ultra-sensitivity and pseudo-prudishness. Broaching the subject of sex is not the same without Sam J. In fact, what more about sex have the women not covered that in the first episode of AJLT, they had to bring it up, humourlessly? Oh, Carrie Bradshaw had never seen a man masturbate. So she made Mr Big do it so that she could watch. And we too. No, thank you.
One of our readers in Bangkok wrote to us to ask if we have watched the show. She, an ex-SATC fan, who does not identify with any of the protagonists, said, “I forget how irritating Carrie is. I became depressed after that. And began to question myself if I, too, am guilty of not acting my age 😂. It took me three days to finish an episode.” For us, we did not even bother reaching to the end of the first. With expressions, such as “sexy sirens in their sixties” and “step up my pussy”, and scenes showing the women, still material, consciously coming into the world of no hand shakes and all manner of wokeness, it felt like the writers and producers tried too hard. Even Mr Big tried too hard (or should that be tried to get hard?)! What is truly regrettable is that And Just Like That is not funny. The jokes felt scripted, not the rapid repartees that so characterised the old show. The women’s lives were more mundane too; they attended a school piano recital! How Lion Moms! As we logged off, something came to our mind: Malboros and Metropolitans did not join the materialism and mania.
Screen grabs: HBO Max