Photo Credit: Blankenhorn / HBO Max

And Just Like That: The Ladies of SATC Are Made New In Reboot

This review contains spoilers.

That HBO would revive one of its most popular and influential original programs is no surprise. Revivals of 90s hits (both on TV and the big screen) have become as ubiquitous as the tiny, rectangular lights dotting the Manhattan skyline. With an established, built-in audience and the benefit of viewer nostalgia, reboots are a no-brainer for networks and studios alike. Unlike other 90s reboots though — that offer audiences a predictable continuation of a winning formula — And Just Like That…sets out to be different from its predecessor, Sex and the City. This is a much riskier venture.

As an avid fan of the original, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on SATC’s re-surfacing (and spoiler alert — this article is full of them!). Some changes work refreshingly well, and others not at all. Much remains to be seen, but after one episode, here are my thoughts.

Samantha’s Move to London

Samantha’s absence was the huge elephant in the room going into the series premiere. Die-hard SATC fans have all been wondering if a revival would even makes sense without Samantha. What’s more, how would her departure be addressed? Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long for an answer.

In the opening scene, Charlotte refers to Samantha as “no longer with us.” At first blush, this reference to death felt like a hard jab, especially considering how lethal Kim Cattrall’s real-life words were for her co-star, SJP. Keep watching though, and it actually serves as foreshadowing for a jolting and unexpected departure later in the episode.

Carrie’s and Miranda’s post-meal discussion of Samantha and her exit to London felt authentic. Hurt feelings, wounded pride, and a vast ocean (both literal and figurative) between friends. These are very real things that unfortunately can happen to the best of people and the best of friends. The ladies’ discussion is painful, awkward and fumbling in a way that rings true-to-life. Women (albeit, people) of every age and stage can be humbled by the loss of a true connection.

Modernization and Diversification

One of the major critiques of the original show is that its storyline and premise didn’t age well. And Just Like That…, however, is giving modern world realness. And I am relieved. Miranda’s retort during lunch that “[w]e can’t just stay who we were, can we?” summarizes the show’s goal perfectly. Rather than continuity, this reboot is seeking to show growth, evolution and redirection. Carrie, the technologically-challenged it-girl who made it through most of SATC without having a cell phone, now has an IG account and hosts a podcast with her queer, non-binary Mexican-Irish boss. The cast is refreshingly diverse. Again, that remains a major point of criticism for SATC that writers of the reboot would have been ill-advised to ignore. They may have gotten away with it back in 1998, but 2021 is a different brand of strappy sandal.

When I read of the diverse new cast, I initially held my breath. Would the new characters of color be one-dimensional, tangential and forgettable? Would their presence feel like forced tokenism? Would they actually advance the storyline or just appear for laughs and the occasional dinner party?

Well, if the first episode is any indication, my worries may be assuaged. Miranda’s racially-awkward conversation with her law professor (Karen Pittman) during her first day of class exposes how shockingly homogeneous her former SATC world was, as she crashes and burns in front of her horrified, much-younger peers. I love that they chose Miranda’s character — an erudite and accomplished corporate attorney — for such an ignorant diatribe. Bias after all, whether conscious or otherwise, is not an illness reserved for only the uneducated and unrefined.

Miranda isn’t the only one struggling to acclimatize in the modern era. In order to make it as a podcaster, Carrie is clearly going to have to “step her [talk game] up.” And in the first episode, Charlotte appears as a self-involved caricature of her former self, clinging to antiquated notions of normalcy. Her suggestion to Miranda that she dye her hair because the “gray is aging [her]” is wildly judgmental and outdated in a world progressive enough for 20-somethings to rock a full head of gray hair or gray highlights; and for 50-something women to finally headline a show about love, sex and relationships. What I have always loved about Charlotte is that despite some superficial leanings, she never lacked depth and heart. Hoping that as the writers continue to modernize Charlotte’s character, they will return her to a kinder, more lovable version of herself.

The New Cast Members Are Fascinating

Each of the kids — Lily, Rose and Brady — are uniquely self-possessed and intriguing characters in their own right. I look forward to seeing what trouble each of them gets into.

Lisa Todd Wexley, played compellingly by Nicole Ari Parker, isn’t the “Black Charlotte” as Anthony incorrectly labels her. To the contrary, her willingness to eat a french fry off of Carrie’s plate (a woman she had met moments earlier) implies a relaxed free-spiritedness. This quality will play nicely against Charlotte’s more rigid exterior as their friendship evolves.

Her husband Herbert Wexley’s commentary during their son’s recital performance was an example of code-switching at its finest. His muttering to his wife — “he don’t got this” after their son’s shaky start, and later “my soul just left my body” — juxtaposed within their very whitewashed world and all of its societal rules and pressures, provided a much-needed and relatable comedic interlude.

Carrie Bradshaw and John Preston

Speaking of souls leaving their bodies, after riding the intense rollercoaster of Big’s and Carrie’s big love for decades now, I can’t believe we lose him in the first episode. A crushing blow. Their chemistry and rapport are so delicious, so light, so completely captivating in the reboot. It is the ultimate payoff after years of watching these two fumble with one another’s hearts. Their comfort and ease led me to relax too — just long enough to believe that finally these two had reached their happily-ever-after. The inside jokes, album listening sessions, and stolen glances are breathtaking. It was as if they lived each day together knowing it could be their last.

Their coupled moments felt like all of Carrie’s dreams-come-true, rolled in expensive cologne and dipped in the finest cognac. They are meant to be savored, as is Willie Garson’s skillful and hilarious return as Stanford Blatch (bittersweet after Garson’s recent, untimely passing earlier this year).

The overarching message (or better yet, warning) of the first episode is that just like that…life can change. And that is perhaps one common thread that both SATC and its reboot will continue to share.

Modernizing a cultural cornerstone is a daunting and unenviable task. After one episode, what remains to be seen is whether that challenge has been successfully met. The good news, though, is that the first episode has made me curious enough to want to find out.

You can follow the writer on Instagram and Twitter at @culturebykaren.



Karen F. ~ travel & culture writer

Freelance culture writer with bylines in Essence, HuffPost, The Root & Blavity. Entertainment lawyer, so culture rules everything around me (C.R.E.A.M.).