From inconsistent character choices, to ham-fisted attempts at correcting the flaws of the original series, to some truly terrible wigs, HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” revival was continuously baffling. And yet, many of us kept hitting play on “And Just Like That...,” which wrapped up its 10-episode season Thursday. Every week, the show generated much social media chatter and memes (“Hey, it’s Che Diaz”). After watching Thursday’s season finale, HuffPost’s Marina Fang and Erin Evans reconvened to talk about the series’ many frustrations, handful of bright spots, and the rumblings that it might continue for a second season.
Marina Fang: Erin, it has been such a perplexing experience watching this revival and thinking about where it fits into the reboot/reimagining/revival industrial complex. On the one hand, no one was exactly clamoring for this! On the other hand, “excited” is not the right word for it, but somehow, I, uh, looked forward(?) to watching it every week. And based on my Twitter feed, a lot of people seemed to have a similar relationship to the show: They were frustrated by it, but they couldn’t help but keep watching it ... and talking about it.
Week by week, I found that my main frustrations mostly fell under three themes: 1. The character choices felt so inconsistent with the people we knew and loved from the original. 2. The characters of color were always going to be secondary to the white leads, no matter what they did. 3. How many times did we need to be reminded that these women are now in their 50s? We know! We get it!
Do you agree, and am I missing any additional frustrations?
Erin Evans: Whew, yeah, those were definitely my frustrations. I think the other big one for me is that — and this has been hard for me to articulate in a way that doesn’t sound ridiculous — but the show was trying to address too many of the criticisms of the original. And in each case, it didn’t really do any justice to itself or the actual realities of our culture today. Yes, “Sex and the City” lacked diversity; no, I don’t want to see a bunch of sidekicks of color. Yes, I want to see queer relationships on TV; but um, “Hey, it’s Che Diaz” seemed like such a caricature in much of the series. The show was just giving #TeamTooMuch way too much of the time, and then it wasn’t funny or sexy on top of that. Ugh. And then, I mean, the biggest trivial thing for me was that the gray wig they put Miranda in got worse and worse with every episode. I think there was one scene in the first episode where her hair looked GORGEOUS, and then they slapped that $10 beauty supply store wig on her and said: “Good luck to you, lady who we do not actually know any more.”
MF: I am cackling.
EE: Oh AND around the characters aging: It definitely seemed like the only way the writers knew how to talk about it was making fun of them getting older. Hated it!
I mean, we all love a good $10 beauty supply store wig when we need it, but on national television? With an HBO budget? Stop the madness.
MF: Of course, it’s important for 50-something women to be represented three-dimensionally on television, and I do think there are a lot of compelling storylines about aging and figuring out what it means for each woman. And characters should get to change and evolve and have existential crises. Miranda realizing she’s lived her life by doing mostly what she was supposed to do and expected to do, and now wanting to live with fewer rigid rules: That’s totally relatable. But the way it all unfolded just felt like, “What is happening?! Who is this?!”
EE: Exactly. It is absolutely fine for her to shift her priorities; but after not seeing these characters for so long, I am still not buying that that shift — hell, personality change — would have happened in this way. It all seemed to just happen all at once. Meanwhile, making Steve look totally helpless, it was just, again, #TeamTooMuch.
MF: Right! I think it would have happened more gradually, not this abruptly. And yes, I never thought I’d be saying this, but justice for Steve! He didn’t ask for this!
EE: He really didn’t. I love Steve; yes, I know he cheated. But I still love him. What were some of the things that kept you watching the series, Marina?
MF: Well, I think we can both agree that someone needs to greenlight an entire show about Sarita Choudhury’s character. Imagine a show about a single South Asian woman in her 50s! And you could have storylines about her fabulously glamorous real estate deals, her probably wild dating history, her family (bring back Madhur Jaffrey as her mom!). Give us that show! Of all of the new characters, I immediately paid more attention every time she appeared on screen. She was so underutilized. And to a lesser degree, I also felt this way about Nicole Ari Parker’s character too. I definitely want to know more about LTW and what her deal is.
But that also goes back to one of my primary frustrations with adding them to this revival: They were never going to be the center of the show, so it was always going to be flawed.
EE: Yep, I agree. I’ve been a fan of Choudhury and Parker for a very, very long time. I saw “Kama Sutra,” uh, way too early in life and was introduced to Parker way back in 2000 when she starred in the TV series “Soul Food” on Showtime. It’s proved that both of them are sexy and can carry a lead role. HBO Max — or any network for that matter — should book them for their own TV series. It could be a spinoff of this, or really anything where they get to be their talented, beautiful selves on screen.
MF: Oh, and every now and then, there were oh-so-brief moments that reminded me of why this franchise has sucked us in for all of these installments. I cackled at Mario Cantone’s line delivery when Anthony tells his date who turns out to be a Holocaust denier to “GET OUT!!!” Just classic Anthony. But also, it’s a cringey scene, which, incidentally, is a theme of this whole revival. Even when something worked, it was often cringey!
I also laughed at that scene when he mutters how he’s not paying the Hot Fellas enough. Were there any of these small moments for you, Erin?
EE: I loved seeing Bitsy Von Muffling at the funeral. That just really was so perfect. I also liked the moments where Carrie was texting Samantha. In my head, there’s no way Kim Cattrall will revive her character; but I did keep telling myself, awww, look at them trying to woo her back. But again, it just takes me back to my belief that they didn’t know what they were doing with the characters. There is no way on God’s green Earth that Samantha Jones wouldn’t have been at Big’s funeral. I don’t care what they were fighting about. If Sam Jones was alive, she woulda been there for her friend.
MF: Yes, she would have booked the very next flight from London! I actually found the texts frustrating because they kept reminding me of her absence. Like, I guess we’re supposed to believe she and Carrie met up for that drink in Paris. How great would it have been to see that? Oh well.
EE: LOL, true. I know they are on a wing and a prayer hoping for a second season reunion.
MF: I keep trying to figure out what exactly about this revival kept us coming back for more each week, despite the litany of frustrations. I guess some part of me still likes hanging out in the aspirational world of these characters. And even though I wrote about how it was weird to watch a show set in a completely post-pandemic world, I guess I did like the escapism, especially while watching it in the middle of winter as we head into Year 3 of the pandemic.
EE: Listen, I’ve tried to stop making my viewing habits make sense a long time ago. I notoriously watch some bad TV and will hate-watch pretty much anything. I kept thinking the “Sex and the City” magic would be sprinkled in a bit more. But also, we’re journalists! It’s literally our job to stay on top of the discourse, so at least in that sense it wasn’t a total waste of time.
MF: That’s true, and the discourse was fun! We need fun!
I am wincing as I type these words, but Season 2? (Deep sigh.) Both showrunner Michael Patrick King and Sarah Jessica Parker have said they’d be interested in doing another season, and the finale very obviously left the door open, ending with several cliffhangers. I think I feel similarly as I did about the initial news of the revival: Do I want this? Nope! Will I watch it if they end up making it? Probably yes. (Deep sigh.) How are you feeling about the prospect of a second season?
EE: I hope HBO Max says no to another season. They should spend their money on a more worthwhile show. Literally anything else.
MF: This is also true. Spend it on a Sarita Choudhury show! Spend it on better wigs!
EE: Please, I beg, if there’s another season of this? Please hire a better wigologist for Miranda.