and just like that, sex and the city

‘And Just Like That…’ wasn’t good, but a new ‘Sex and the City’ could be

The And Just Like That… finale ended with a little bit of that Sex and the City magic, and just like that, I was left wanting more.

I’m going to come right out and say it: And Just Like That… was a huge disappointment to many fans of Sex and the City, including this writer.

Even though my optimism remained slightly cautious leading up to the series, almost entirely due to the absence of one Samantha Jones, I couldn’t help getting my hopes up for this revival of a show that’s meant so much to me. And that’s definitely not how I’ve felt about all my beloved properties who’ve announced reboots in the past. There’s certainly something to be said for leaving well enough alone, and And Just Like That… did a lot to support that sentiment, but something about Sex and the City coming back in 2021 just felt right.

When the show premiered in 1998, it was groundbreaking in how it showcased women in their 30s and 40s who were sexy, smart, ambitious, not competitive with each other, and…get this…unmarried. While the women spent a whole lot of time discussing men and what they wanted from them, they were all doing more than fine without a man by their side.

The show put women’s sexuality at the forefront, which honestly still feels groundbreaking today, unfortunately. They weren’t just searching for love, they also wanted sex. Good sex, on their terms. They weren’t (always) just interested in being someone that a man would pick. They were the pickers, and their standards were (usually) as high as their vitality warranted.

In many ways, we still live in a world that works hard to dispose of women after they reach a “certain age.” While men are celebrated for becoming more mature and distinguished, women spend all of their money and energy maintaining their youth, because we’ve been shown repeatedly that young and beautiful is the only way we’re acceptable.

Sex and the City unapologetically gave the power to women in their 30s and 40s, and gave us four different role models to guide us through our own vibrant, sexy adulthoods. If nothing else, I was thrilled that And Just Like That… would do the same for women in their 50s and 60s, as I hope to be one some day.

Did it succeed in doing that? Kind of. While there was decidedly less “sex” and “the city” in And Just Like That…, again, owing a lot to the absence of Samantha, it definitely had its moments. Charlotte and Harry still have some heat between them, Miranda’s on a whole new journey with Che, Seema stumbled upon a new lover, and Carrie is waking up to the possibility of life and love after Big. What’s clear is that all of these characters, the old and the new, still have a lot of exploration left in them, which is one of the most important aspects of the series.

On top of the slight lack of its predecessor’s namesake elements, And Just Like That… disappointed fans in many other ways. It all began when we saw how out-of-touch these formerly worldly women had become. I do have some sympathy for this, considering I’m more than 20 years younger than them, and I also find it difficult to keep up without keeping a constant eye on social media, which is just not the Carrie Bradshaw way. However, these women are curious Manhattanites, first and foremost, so we can certainly expect better than we saw from Miranda in that supremely cringey classroom scene.

Another common critique of And Just Like That… attacks the show’s forced “wokeness,” which was clearly an effort to make amends for Sex and the City’s blinding whiteness. Each lead character was given a friend who was a person of color and storylines that were heavy-handed to the point of being cheesy. We did get some amazing new characters out of it, including Seema, Nya, Lisa, and dare I say it, Che, but each of these characters were criminally underutilized, cheapening the whole atonement attempt.

There were also troubling storylines, including Steve’s hearing loss being played for both comedy and tragedy, the many plots that seemingly disappeared without a trace, and the fact that Samantha Jones, the most ride or die friend of the bunch, ditched the group and literally fled the country because of a trivial, completely understandable business transaction. The funeral flowers were a beautiful, Samantha-worthy gesture, but this fundamental character contradiction will always be my biggest And Just Like That… grievance.

Even with all of its flaws, the real reason I was so disappointed with And Just Like That… was that it completely lacked the fun spirit of Sex and the City. It just didn’t feel the same, at all, and it definitely wasn’t a change for the better. That being said, I do believe the And Just Like That… finale was able to pinpoint the reason for that, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for a better future.

And that future is not a second season of And Just Like That…, but a seventh season of Sex and the City. Hear me out.

A foundational element of Sex and the City was Carrie’s column. Her weekly writing assignments gave the show an episodic feel that allowed the women to explore different people, places, and problems in each episode without being continually beholden to larger storylines. Week to week, the show tackled Carrie’s latest insightful (or less so) theory about love, sex, and women in New York City. It kept the show fresh, and allowed them to cover so much more ground than they otherwise would have.

In And Just Like That…, Carrie is no longer a columnist, but a novelist, and the show followed suit, trading in musings of the week for a mess of a season. Gone are the days of penning quick, witty pieces about what’s happening in the here and now. This is the time of larger tomes and stories about things that have already happened. No longer rife with perpetual novelty and possibility, but with reflection and closure. Not about the fabulous life she’s living, but the fabulous life she’s already lived.

The problem wasn’t just that the change to completely serialized storytelling felt like an abrupt departure from Sex and the City. The problem was that And Just Like That… really wasn’t that great at it. The show was constantly dropping plot lines in bizarre places, to either be picked up at an equally bizarre point or not at all. The format also completely failed to give the characters and the show the sense of curiosity and excitement that they’ve always had. It was perplexing at its worst, and just kind of boring at its best.

Thankfully, the And Just Like That… finale gave me new hope that we could still get the Sex and the City revival that we wanted. No, Carrie’s not returning to her laptop to punch out a new weekly column, but she is returning to the microphone on her new podcast, wonderfully titled “Sex and the City!”

This advice podcast would be an absolutely perfect avenue for her to explore the same types of topics that she did with her column, while bringing in all that she’s learned along the way. With the podcast, the show could return to its original format, tackling different stories every week. On top of returning the show to its original glory, this would give more opportunities for the show’s new characters to have their own stories outside of the leads.

Many of the kinks and complaints about the revival worked themselves out before the finale, and all of the characters are now in a really interesting place that I would truly love to explore further. Carrie is dipping her toes back in the dating pool, Charlotte is the loving, committed matriarch to a family that’s growing up in ways she didn’t expect, and Miranda is letting herself make new choices and trying out a life that’s outside of her usual confines.

A second season of And Just Like That… hasn’t yet been confirmed, and the final episode did show “series finale” on HBO Max. However, nobody’s story felt finished and the cast and creator have spoken about the potential for more.

In my opinion, they should leave this chapter behind and go forward with the show’s original title, Sex and the City. What better way to reignite excitement in dubious fans than to ditch the title of the show that let them down and return to the name of the show that they still love. As long as they really do bring back its former flare.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Kim Cattrall will ever be coming back to the Sex and the City universe, but as long as we can live in a world where Sam is an incredible friend from overseas, I think it would be worth giving this show another chance to give us the stories and the characters we love.

And Just Like That… may have been disappointing, but the stage is set for a brighter tomorrow under the Sex and the City banner. The show gave us six seasons and one movie (let’s just forget about the second one) of groundbreaking entertainment, and I know they have more in them. I, for one, am really hoping they get to prove it.