The Conservative Critic
Is the new Sex and the City too woke to try?
After almost 20 years, one of the most popular and iconic TV shows in history, Sex and The City, who basically invented HBO and found a mountain of success in syndication, returned with the aptly named reboot title, And Just Like That.
Only three of the four original starring cast members returned for the reboot after a long-standing and very public feud between Kim Cattrall who played Samanta Jones and the rest of the cast members, particularly Sarah Jessica Parker who plays the leading role of Carrie Bradshaw. So the release of the show was ushered in with a lot of anticipation for how Samantha would depart the friends and what their lives would look like in the new world created for them in the new show.
One clip, in particular, has circulated the conservative web showing one of the characters, Miranda Hobbs played by Cynthia Nixon, spewing a litany of wokeisms. In isolation, it seems like the show is a nauseating ode to cancel culture and the religion of progressivism. But in context, is And Just Like That really that woke?
The conservative critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? And most importantly: Is it liberal propaganda?
Overall rating: Unexpected but pretty good
And Just Like That picks up the story of four female best friends living in New York City ala Americana. The last viewers saw the women they were in their early forties, newly married with small children and enjoying the spoils of being seasoned mid-level career women with either very high salaries, rich husbands or large divorce settlements (or both!). Now the women are entering their late fifties and early sixties and are dealing with the new issues that so many American women face as age deprives them of the joie-de-vivre we have in our earlier years. Viewers see Miranda grappling with an identity crisis and a sexually active teenage boy, Charlotte clinging to the vanity of looking younger and Carrie redefining her career as now a more mature voice on sex and relationships (as opposed to her former status as enginue).
A lot of the criticism of the series (other than misdirected at its politics) has been that And Just Like That lacks the fun and expansiveness of the original. While its true the show is a lot less silly and the world a lot less expansive, this change is clearly intentional and does a lot of credit to the writing team who thoughtfully understand that for so many people in a totally locked-down tyrannical New York City of 2021 and for all women over the age of 50, life is not quite as sparkly as it was twenty years ago and the world does seem quite a bit smaller. Understanding that lens does not make a story sad, it just gives a story some ground to stand on. Even in writing off the Samantha character was done with the utmost respect for the realities of time and friendship, neither of which are meant to last forever.
And Just Like That is written as a drama with some splashes of comedy as opposed to the original format which was primarily comedic (though I’d argue the final season was more drama than comedy). But overall, if viewers can set aside their expectation for raunchy fun from Season 1 Episode 1 of the original show, they will find a quietly empathetic exploration of the fragility of life and the true capacity of our hearts to break and heal again in the natural course of our lives.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: More drama than comedy but good
As a character driven dramedy, it is very entertaining. The plot is rich and the problems are diverse and believable. The show manages to capture an empathetic note -quite surprisingly considering the three leading ladies are all depicted as millionaires – which is a major plus for casual enjoyment of the show. Add to that the nostalgia for the original and the glamorous fashion and there is plenty to keep viewers interested.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
And Just Like That is well shot to begin with. The cityscapes and character tracking is done beautifully and with pretty interesting angles and lighting for a mainstream TV show. In particular there is a scene where Miranda takes a seat at a quiet bar by herself and the light struggles to peer through the shuttered window panes into the venue. By light alone the viewer knows that Miranda shouldn’t be at that bar alone. These subtle artistic choices are prevalent throughout the first episodes as well as the use of musicality.
Much like in the original series, the fashion is a delight. And Just Like That was not able to bring back their original award winning costume designer because she’s busy on her new project, Emily in Paris but their new team has really managed to capture the well established personalities of the women while also introducing cutting edge runway ready looks for viewers to enjoy.
The performances are stronger than the original with some exceptions. The women have all had twenty years to continue honing their craft and they have come back with a lot of integrity in their performances. Sarah Jessica Parker was never half as good in the original series as she was in episode 2 of And Just Like That. And Cynthia Nixon as a very lost Miranda is compelling in a way the strong and powerful Miranda of Sex and the City never fully realized. Unfortunately, Kristin Davis as Charlotte York is the weak link bringing the viewers a fairly silly Charlotte who, to be fair, is very true to the original series but does not fit in the new world. Davis has more to offer and viewers can only hope that as the series progresses she finds more truth in Charlotte’s motivations.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Yeah – but not as mind melty as has been suggested
Is a show about three rich liberal women starring three rich liberal women pretty liberal? Yeah. However, it isn’t the total woke nightmare that the isolated clip of Miranda implies. Contextually, Miranda is now a lost soul. She has been plagued by twitter and insta activism the same as the rest of us and feels like her place in the world is totally upside down. She is trying to be the good little liberal and do the right thing and be accepted by progressive peers but she’s trying too hard and in way too deep on woke culture. That clip is actually very clear in the context of the show that Miranda doesn’t know who she is anymore and is making a fool of herself.
On the flip side of the Miranda dichotomy: she says the reasons she’s back in school is because of the “muslim ban” and she realized she was “part of the problem” in corporate law. The entire concept of the “muslim ban” is a liberal fantasy (it was a very common travel ban to only a couple of countries which is now being used against all kinds of countries due to COVID-19). But also the idea that corporate law is “part of the problem” in relationship to the “muslim ban” (pretending that is real) makes absolutely 0 sense. Further – the fact that her solution to helping people was to throw tens of thousands of dollars at her own education instead of donating that money to already existing human rights lawyers is pretty narcissistic and therefore extremely progressive.
Additionally the show felt the need to recruit shoe-horned minority and gender queer characters to serve some arbitary “requirements” they felt they had from progressive viewers. While I think representation is great, the way they managed it seems forced and inauthentic and treats the characters as sort of “pets” to the story instead of just folding them in naturally. This choice is extremely odd to me considering the original show managed to seamlessly incorporate LGBTQ individuals of all kinds into the story including Samantha who was a self proclaimed “try-sexual” meaning she’d try anything.
Overall, yes of course it is liberal. No hiding that. But it really isn’t more so than most other programming and its not so insufferable that the show is unwatchable. It is more human than it is political.
And Just Like That is worth viewing particularly for women of all ages. Looking past liberalism, the show is a gentle celebration and cautious exploration of femininity and life as it ebbs.