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And Just Like That, Here's Everything Wrong With the 'Sex and the City' Reboot

(Warning: There will be spoilers. If you want to be surprised, go watch SATC “Just Like That” and come back later)

I admit I’m a Carrie Bradshaw fan. I was in my twenties in 1998 and living in Chicago when Sex and the City debuted on HBO. It captured, pretty accurately, what life was like in a big city when you’re young and beautiful. What was never accurate was the amount of money Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda had to play with; that was always a fantasy. But the weird encounters with guys who would do stupid things like break up with you on a post-it-note or ask you to do sexually bizarre things you would never ever consider, frienemies who would sabotage you, thinking you had met “the one” over and over again — it all rang true, even if it was exaggerated and at times overboard on the raunch.

I have always been a writer and so Carrie’s storyline resonated with me. At the time the series began, I was working in broadcasting while writing at night, dreaming of the day I’d have my own column. And while I wouldn’t end up writing a sex column, I sure have written a lot about sex and politics in my time behind a keyboard. Maybe that connection is what kept me coming back, season after season and bad movie after bad movie. (The movies were horrifically bad.) I realized, after telling Mr. Fox I had watched the new reboot, that he knew all the characters I was talking about because I had made him watch every season. (We met the same year the show debuted and, as a new girlfriend, I probably forced him to watch it). But the other reason the show landed so successfully with the target demographic was the writing of the characters that we all came to know so well and the relationships that connected them.

Carrie’s on-again-off-again relationship with Mr. Big defined the show. It was the underlying constant running underneath decades of change. As fans, we were taken on a years-long journey that finally resolved with the happy ending we all wanted from the beginning. That brings me to my first problem with the reboot.

They killed off Mr. Big?

Come on. SATC fans have been through the wringer with these two characters. How much more can we take? We had to watch Big marry someone else and lead Carrie into a marriage-wrecking situation that was extremely unfair. (He should never have married Natasha in the first place and everyone knew it.) Watching big-hearted Aiden get wrecked by the tornado that is Carrie and Big was also one of the worst moments in the show. And don’t get me started on the wedding disaster where Big gets cold feet, and they put Carrie in that unfortunate bird/hat thing that we will never unsee. These two have had way more than their fair share of heartache, but it was our hearts they were breaking, over and over. And now, after all that, after the string of people this relationship damaged, Mr. Big bites it after a strenuous workout on his Peloton in the first episode. Come on!

And that’s not even the worst part of it.

They opened themselves up to a huge lawsuit.

A day after the premiere of And Just Like That, Peloton’s stock plummeted. HBO apparently got permission to use the Peloton name but didn’t tell anyone at Peloton that they were planning on killing off Mr. Big on their product. This is the dumbest thing I think I’ve ever seen a media company do … right before Christmas … to a giant exercise company … with lots of lawyers. Wow.

Peloton stock dropped 11% on Friday and continued to drop in the following days. This does not bode well for the intelligence level of consumers — Hello? It’s make-believe! — but that doesn’t change the fact that Peloton investors just lost a big chunk of change, and it appears that the company’s reputation has taken a hit.

Nancy Praeger, an intellectual property lawyer, told the New York Times that HBO might be in trouble.

“The tarnish can be evidenced by the stock price plummeting,” she added, referring to the 11 percent drop in Peloton stock overnight after the episode aired. The stock’s value continued to fall on Friday.
In Ms. Prager’s view, that means Peloton could reasonably consider litigation, especially if HBO did not disclose the story line involving the product.

Peloton is not leaning toward a lawsuit and has put out a statement blaming Mr. Big’s lifestyle. The cardiologist on Peloton’s health and wellness advisory council, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, said, “Mr Big lived what many would call an extravagant lifestyle — including cocktails, cigars, and big steaks — and was at serious risk as he had a previous cardiac event in Season 6.” Those facts, along with his heart trouble, pointed to the cause of death, she said, while adding that “riding his Peloton bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event.” Then they made this ad, which is admittedly hilarious.

Miranda is now a Karen.

Miranda has always been rough around the edges and, in my opinion, the least likable character on the show, but the writers have now turned that up to 1,000 by making her the most insufferable, drunken, leftist white Karen on woke patrol ever.

Mike Cernovich had an interesting take on this development and believes that the writers are mocking the cultural hellscape we are all now living in, which is so different from the ’90s when SATC was in its heyday. Perhaps he’s right. They have not made “woke Miranda” appealing in any way. She’s so determined to fit in with the new morality that she’s failing miserably.

Cernovich wrote, “I watched this episode for research and it felt like satire. So over the top. Every scene had stuff like this in it. There’s even a non-binary podcast host. Overall tho it felt pathetic. A bunch of old people who never grew up and trying to relive 30’s.”

He concluded his live-tweet thread with an interesting take. “I watched it for the tweets. Really would have thought this was conservatives satirizing the left.” It did feel that way. Miranda, trying to impress her black professor, tells her she quit her job as a corporate attorney after hearing about the “Muslim ban” — which did not exist. It’s so cringey. But perhaps the worst scene was this one, where, in the span of two minutes, Miranda misgenders someone, insults her professor with a non-PC hair comment, and solidifies the worst stereotypes about white women with short haircuts.

Carrie Bradshaw: Cringe podcaster?

Just, no. Where is Carrie Bradshaw, the writer? She’s sitting in a studio with a non-binary comedian and some dude who looks like he hasn’t bathed in a month, talking about public masturbation. Carrie was a lot of things but she was never gross. And this podcast is gross. Carrie’s “Sex and the City” column may have talked about taboo subjects, but it was never graphic or made anyone uncomfortable. Suddenly, this awful generation of TMI-pushers are trying to destroy Carrie’s tongue-in-cheek, lighthearted approach to sex talk by making her graphic and gross under the threat of firing her. Just, no. 

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The only way this could get fixed is for Carrie to have a revelation that this is not who she is and to quit the raunchy podcast and go back to writing, which is her thing. The plot could hearken back to the night she went to a party filled with bisexuals pushing her to try their fetish and give up her own sexuality, which ended with her cutting those ties and never looking back. That’s Carrie Bradshaw. Carrie doesn’t give in to peer pressure. It would also be a good opportunity to chastise this generation’s penchant for oversharing to the point of making others repulsed. It’s not good manners to make others uncomfortable on purpose. No one wants to hear about people masturbating in public unless they were arrested and fined for it.

Samantha didn’t come to the funeral.

Kim Cattrall has opted not to take part in this series, which at this point is looking like the right call. But her character, Samantha Jones, is Carrie’s ride-or-die friend. There is no chance that Samantha did not even call when she found out that Mr. Big was dead. The idea that Samantha would stop speaking to Miranda and Charlotte is not that outlandish, but Carrie? No way. The storyline they want us to believe is that Carrie no longer needed Sam as a publicist for her book, and that created a rift. I don’t buy it. Sam is a very successful publicist. She never needed Carrie as a client as much as she needed her as a friend. Killing Samantha off would have been a better way to go, and more believable, than having her turn her back on her best friend.

This leads to my main criticism of the new reboot. Why is it so depressing? Carrie has not only lost her best friend but now her husband. How on earth are we going to segue from this to the classic SATC format where we’re laughing most of the time? So far, it’s just been crying, horror, upset, and death. Why are they doing this? We’ve just come off the worst two years of our lives and SATC was supposed to bring some levity and relief, and instead the writers have taken our suffering and increased it. That was unfair and poorly thought out.

This is why Tiger King was such a huge hit. It made us laugh at a time when all we could do was try to survive, battered by fear porn and government mandates, losing businesses, worrying about our kids’ mental health, and trying to find light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Tiger King filled that void with its insane nonsense that gave everyone a chance to laugh again and bond over a shared interest in a nutty show.

While SATC is certainly better produced than Tiger King, it used to give its fans a shared connection and escape from reality that  we all looked forward to. Now, instead of looking forward to episode three, I’m dreading it. What will they do to my characters next that I will hate? is the thought running through my head.

Badly done, HBO. 

The only nice thing I can say is that it’s still beautifully shot. Carrie’s apartment with Big is heaven on earth. I could live in that closet. The fashions are still reliably quirky, and I appreciate so much that Sarah Jessica Parker hasn’t injected her face with fillers making her unrecognizable. She’s in her 50s. Be 50. It’s fine. I wish Kristen Davis had done the same. She looks like a muppet someone made of Charlotte. Ladies, please stop doing this. You look better without all that nonsense. It’s okay to have wrinkles. It’s okay to have crow’s feet and at some point, if you don’t have those things you look strange. I hate criticizing anyone for the way they look because it feels unfair. Davis must have insecurities about aging that she hasn’t gotten over, and that’s her choice. But she’s a beautiful woman and she would be even more beautiful without the fillers. I look forward to the day when Hollywood actresses choose to age naturally and become the good examples to young women they could be. Aging is not a horror. It’s not something to avoid at all costs, or hide from, or nip and tuck away. That just makes it worse.

Will I watch episode 3? Of course. I’m in now. I’m here for whatever they do to this show, but I’m not expecting to like it.