Some things are better left in the 90s.
Eleven years. That’s how long it’s been since the last instalment of the ‘Sex and the City’ franchise when they released Sex and the City 2. As a fan, I was satisfied with the way it ended, so when they announced that ‘And Just Like That’ was returning as a limited 10-episode series, my first thought was, “why?”
There was nothing that had been left unsaid, no feuds that needed resolution and no unexplored storylines that needed filling out. Then when I found out that of the four, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis, and Kim Catrall, only three would be returning, my initial “why” turned into a “please, just don’t bother.”
For those wondering why the absence of one character – Kim Catrall, who played Samantha – is such a big deal, it’s because, despite its name, SATC is a show about friendship. And Samantha was the one friend that everyone in life should have the privilege of having. She was warm, fiercely loyal, independent, sexually free, and the only one who didn’t have the traditional storybook ending of marriage and kids.
As sceptical as I was, this is a show that I had been watching and rewatching for years, and with the increasing hype that followed, despite Kim Catrall not returning, I knew I was going to watch it. I got my hopes up because of how much I trusted the actors involved. Seeing them so happy about the show’s return rubbed off on me, and I was down for the ride.
AJLT premiered on Thursday 9 December on Sky Comedy and Sky Showcase at 9:00 pm. The time slot showed promise that the shows’ strongly sexual scenes had not been watered down, which I was glad about. We have seen too many times that when a show returns years later, they change it to appeal to a wider audience, and I was glad that SATC had not faced the same fate. But that is where my positivity ends.
Ever heard the saying ‘less is more? I think the shows’ writer Michael Patrick King could have done with a lesson in this when he returned to create the limited series. The first thing wrong with AJLT is all the PC-making-everyone-feel-included charade they are trying to pass off as true inclusivity, which was painful to sit through.
Although it had its moments, SATC was never the most inclusive show – I get that. Still, nowadays, those groups previously left out of mainstream media narratives have other shows they can turn to who actually cared about representing them from the start. This makes AJLT’s placement of non-binary characters, ethnic characters, and their attempt at challenging gender roles even more insulting because it comes across as a caricature.
The shows that represent everyone don’t need to be so overtop with it because it comes naturally to them. In AJLT, it’s stiff, forced and felt like creator Michael Patrick King was doing the most to make up for excluding all of those groups the first time around.
You are not doing these groups any favours by finally waking up to their existence and then portraying them in very stereotypical ways that probably would have flown in the 90s but are now tired.
My next gripe, which I’m sure you saw coming, was the absence of Samantha. The group simply doesn’t look right as a trio. Samantha was a staple character of SATC and fans knew that her absence in AJLT would leave a huge Samantha shaped hole in their hearts. As a fan, I could have gotten over her absence if they had written her out in a way that was fair and dignified. Instead, what we got felt like a betrayal, not only to the fans but to Samantha as a character.
Even if I could believe the subpar story they wrote into the show, there is NO WAY IN HELL Samantha would have cut contact with everyone in the process. Kim Catrall made SATC, and to make her the villain in all this was wrong.
Other elements have remained consistent, however. The fashion remains iconic but questionable in parts. Carrie is the same as she has always been, pretending to be more open-minded than she actually is. Charlotte hasn’t changed one bit either, as she is still trying to control everything, including her daughter, who doesn’t want to conform to the cliche that girls need to dress girly.
That being said, they dropped the ball on Miranda. If anyone were to get themselves into hot water by simultaneously insulting a Black person and assuming someone’s pronouns, it would have been Charlotte. Miranda may be many things, but being a white saviour is not one of them.
I know they have only released two episodes of AJLT so far, but I am not feeling very optimistic about the remaining eight from what I’ve seen.
Outside of the main four three, a few candidates have been introduced and are set up to fill Samantha’s chair. As happy as I am that they’re both Black women, none of them are characters I can see myself falling in love with as much as I did Samantha Jones.
The unexpected may have happened at the end of episode 1 (I’m still in shock), but it was more infuriating than the works of a good storyline. The writing in AJLT is lazy, to say the least. The characters are almost unrecognisable, and not because they’ve aged gracefully. It’s like the writers have forgotten who is who, and have the characters acting completely, well, out of character.
I now have a reason to hate every Thursday until 22 January when the finale airs because, let’s face it, I’m still going to watch it. So thanks, Michael Patrick King. Next time you feel like rebooting such a beloved, perfectly imperfect show, do me a favour and have the decency to do a reunion like everyone else.
This article was originally published on VoiceMagUK.