(Spoilers from the Sex And The City revival will be found below.)
When it comes to And Just Like That…, I’ve been watching the chatter on social media and in forums, and yikes. Che Diaz is out there sparking strong feelings again. People are also holding that character to standards that would never fly for Carrie and Miranda, who have been rather terrible to people over the years, too. Miranda is also now unrecognizable from her old badass self, and even though this revival’s writers must have watched the original show, it sometimes feels like they’ve forgotten what made SATC enjoyable.
Look, I know that there’s some lingering sentimentality out there for the original characters, but this show has long since passed the point it should be taken seriously or infuriate us. And at this point, I’m only rooting for Steve Brady and Charlotte York Goldenblatt. (Oh boy, Charlotte? I cackled after her tipsy “I was a person before all of you!” speech to Harry, their kids, and their learned helplessness. And she sold a painting to Sam Smith, so good on her.)
The vast majority of these characters, however, can stuff it. Sex And The City was at least a confection, but And Just Like That… is a buffet of selfishness. These characters are buried so far into their self-involved navels, and Che Diaz is catching the brunt of the ire? I have to wonder if that’s the case because Che was, by the “logic” of this spinoff, supposed to be representative of the LGBTQA+ community. Yet in a show like this, it’s kind-of an unrealistic expectation to ask any member of a marginalized community to deliver a nuanced portrayal. That’s simply not how this series works.
After last week, however, I was at least entertained by knowing that the abrasive spirit of Che is still alive. After the writers shoehorned them into a miserable LTR with Miranda — it was never going to work out, and that had nothing to do with sexuality — Che is finally free to be Che. The writers actually did something interesting, too. Che had failed at moving from being an aggressively bad standup comic to take a shot at a network comedy. That pilot didn’t even make it to air, and Che had broken up with Miranda, and suddenly, Che became many different things, including a lover of animals.
See, that’s cute. Still, people found them insufferable, and then the show doubled down on Che being this show’s version of Satan. Che also wore this Kendall Roy Gucci jacket during their return to the comedy stage. Coincidence?
The standup set led to the return of Villain Che, who was the crowning touch of the first season’s horror-show vibe, even more so than Mr. Big’s Peloton and the projectile vomiting. As a returning comedian — and remember, Che has never been funny, so why start now? — they cracked jokes about dating (the mortified and watching) Miranda that included the following: “She was confused about everything, and I was confused about why I was f*cking her.”
Again, not amusing at all, but I’m not exactly sure what Miranda expected to see while showing up unannounced at Che’s first show after their split. That’s especially the case because Miranda tends to completely ignore that her exes exist and even avoids mutual-friend situations. Che didn’t expect Miranda to care at all, and comedians tend to use negative personal experiences for material. That’s what comics do. Granted, I’m not excusing Che’s bad jokes, but Che never named Miranda during her set, and Miranda shouldn’t have expected butterflies and roses simply because she showed up.
Furthermore, I am more than ready to see Che move back into tearing this show’s little world apart. They’re not exactly an agent of chaos, but they are a reality check because And Just Like That… has made several cringeworthy attempts at inclusivity. Most of them are not great efforts, especially when it comes to Nya, who now only sits in her apartment revenge-buying expensive gifts for her ex’s impending baby. Lisa and Seema are likewise one-dimensional, but Che? Che may not be funny, but they are fun. The backlash to their profound unlikeability actually made me like them, in a way.
Che Diaz dared to be more than a mere prop and a token of inclusivity, which — let’s face it — is what this revival is doing with its new characters. Granted, Che’s villainy isn’t nearly as spectacular as The Gays on The White Lotus, but I’ll take what I can get with And Just Like That…. Furthermore, Che is overall much more palatable when she’s not with Miranda. Those two were miserable together with personalities that clashed 9 moments out of 10. Miranda also deserved to be taken down a few pegs by someone, and I am fine with it being Che who did it. If they decide to end the season by throwing all of Carrie’s Manolo Blahniks into a dumpster, I wouldn’t be mad at that, either.
Finally, let’s do some bullets on the disappointments of this season:
— The show decided to write off the late Willie Garson’s Stanford Blatch by having him run away to be a Shinto monk. And because they couldn’t just let that sentence hang in the air, so the wind could sweep it away, they even photoshopped a grinning Stanford in front of a monastery. This, apparently, was actually a move in service of Anthony’s plot, so that he could be motivated to also let go of his “worldly possession” of always being the “top” in gay relationships. They had to disrespect Stanford in order to inspire Anthony to get into the idea of being penetrated? I guess so.
— Miranda isn’t even a shadow of who she used to be. She has long since quit her job as a law firm partner. She dumped Steve, essentially for being embarrassing. She fawned over Che and became a simpering hanger on, and when she finally decided to work again, Miranda interned at the U.N. and dumbed herself down because she wanted everyone to like her. Ugh.
— Carrie outwardly questioned whether “Big was a big mistake” (which even freaked out Miranda) and she’s decided to throw herself back into this Aidan thing despite two shattering breakups in the past. The show heads into the season finale with Aidan devastated because his son got drunk and wrapped his truck around a tree, and all Carrie can do is wonder what this means for her. Because she sold her Carrie apartment to buy a “palatial” new pad with Big’s money, so she and Aidan could inevitably start irritating each other again.
— Oh, and the Real Samantha is “back.” She’s making her phone call to Carrie next week. If someone wants to edit that out of the season finale ahead of time, that would be cool. (Samantha, you don’t need this mess in your life.)
I’ll close by reiterating that it’s simply not worth it to get upset about And Just Like That…. However, I’m pleased that Steve is thriving. He’s set up a new bar on Coney Island, and he’s gonna sell clams. Dude is happy. Let him be that way. Also, let Che be The Villain.
HBO Max’s ‘And Just Like That’ will stream its season finale on Aug. 24.