This article contains spoilers for the first two episodes of And Just Like That …
Waiting for the sequel to Sex and the City and just like that … (Binge, Foxtel on Demand) felt a bit like approaching a school reunion. There was a strange mixture of curiosity, anticipation and fear of making contact with once more familiar faces. How would the passing of more than a decade affect Carrie and Co, the friends who are so closely connected to their time at the turn of the century? And since this is SATC area, what would you wear? (In Carrie’s case, it turned out to be strange hats.)
For six seasons, between 1998 and 2004, the fashion-conscious writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her friends – the publicist Samantha (Kim Cattrall), the lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and the art dealer Charlotte (Kristin Davis) – scurried through Glitzy, up-and-coming Manhattan with chic restaurants, chic bars, cool clubs and enviable apartments. They wore flashy clothes and very high heels while gossiping about their love life, sex life and job over cocktails and cupcakes. Whatever it was, Sex and the City was a show about female friendship. (And yes, I would prefer to erase any memories of the deplorable films that followed the TV series.)
For fans of the show, the occasional drop-ins, and even those who hate it to complain about its superficiality and narrow-minded worldview, the hyped 10-part sequel raised questions. How would it deal with the significant absence of vicious libertarian Samantha after Cattrall’s refusal to participate in the production? How would women whose social and sexual life formed the content of the series in their thirties work as subjects in their fifties when they have settled into married life and two of them have children? And how would a show built on a quartet of white, cis-gender heterosexuals play out at a time when such a show wouldn’t even be commissioned without significant changes?
Chris Noth as Big and Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie in the first episode of the Sex and the City revival And Just Like That ….Credit:HBO max
A few answers came to light in the double episode opener. A driving force behind the original series, creator, writer, and director Michael Patrick King provided a mixed bag, some things well handled and some awkwardly, despite the fact that he managed to cause a series shock. Samantha’s absence was dealt with sensibly early on and reflected the much-noticed gap in real life: There had been an argument with Carrie, first professionally and then personally, whereupon Samantha left for London and avoided contact. Interestingly, like the days when actors left Neighbors and their characters allegedly moved to Queensland, Samantha was not killed and left the door open to return. Given that she was a cancer survivor, a more resolute explanation could have been, and not even have required a lame line about her being tragically hit by a bus as she crossed Fifth Avenue.
There was also a lovely afterword with Samantha’s formally disregarding the request for no flowers at Big’s funeral (Chris Noth, and yes, his character’s death was the shock). Touched by the gesture, Carrie allowed the coffin to be draped by the exaggerated floral decorations in the minimalist white funeral home. It seemed completely appropriate since this is a Sex and the City sibling, so style is important and subtlety is not a priority.
In a chunky case of overkill, Charlotte’s new character “LTW” (Nicole Ari Parker) was featured as a “documentary and humanist … and she is on Vogue’s International Best Dressed List”.Credit:HBO / Binge
To fill in the void Samantha had left and address the show’s lack of variety, was a trio of new characters, all women of color. Charlotte’s school friend Lisa Todd Wexley, “LTW” (Nicole Ari Parker), stormed into a restaurant where the women dined like a couture-clad returning to SATC. A chunky case of overkill led Charlotte to prepare for her arrival by stating that she was “a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, her husband Herbert is an investment banker open for mayor, and she is on the International Vogue Best Dressed List “. Whoa, fivefold punch.
And as if those credentials weren’t enough for her to join the elite clique, she swung at their table and expressed her fondness for fries while wearing a bracelet – by an obscure, aspiring indie designer from Mississippi – that caught Carrie’s admiring eagle eye. Later she gratefully accepted a plastic cup containing the wine Miranda had smuggled into a concert at a music school. Welcome to the gang, LTW.