Meredith Blake, Yvonne Villarreal and Maira Garcia
Los Angeles Times
Another season of “And Just Like That” has come to an end, and what a wild ride it has been.
In its sophomore outing, TV’s most unhinged reboot took us from the trash-strewn beaches of Malibu to the snow-blanketed streets of Manhattan. It brought us the return of two essential characters from “Sex and the City,” Aidan Shaw (John Corbett) and Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) — at least one of whom fans were thrilled to see. It gave us fashion that was as head-scratching as ever, including pigeon purses, puffer ball gowns and vaguely menacing jackets.
Unlike Season 1, no one died and there was a fair amount of sex, much of it boundary-pushing or at least cringe-inducing. Penises were pumped. Strap-ons were worn. Orgasms were had (though sometimes they were dry). And at least one middle-aged gay man decided it was time to be more versatile in the bedroom.
Everyone — except for Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez), who wound up working in a vet’s office when their pilot didn’t get picked up — seemed to have vast amounts of money to blow on designer clothing and four-bedroom apartments in Gramercy Park.
In the finale, “Last Supper Part Two: Entree,” our lord and savior Carrie Bradshaw throws a party to say farewell to her Upper East Side bachelorette pad, just in time for Aidan to announce that he needs to put their rekindled romance on hold for, uh, five years. (Good thing she now has a kitten to keep her company in that $15 million apartment!) Miranda mends fences with Steve. Samantha dials in from London. And Che — well, Che remains Che.
Below, we on the television staff unpack “And Just Like That” Season 2, consider whether the show has improved and ponder Carrie’s future as an eccentric cat lady.
Meredith Blake: Any discussion of the season finale has to begin with Aidan and his inexplicable decision to call off his romance with Carrie for five years — an arbitrary deadline that makes no sense except as a narrative contrivance that will: 1) Get his character to go away for a while, and 2) return Carrie to the singles scene for a few more seasons. Like much of the plot on this show, it feels motivated by narrative expediency rather than rational decision-making.
Ever since we met Wyatt over FaceTime, it was clear this kid was going to mess things up for Carrie and her handsome golden retriever of a boyfriend. Still, I found myself irritated by the flimsy rationale Aidan offered. Sure, Wyatt is going through a hard time, took a bunch of ‘shrooms and crashed the car. Sounds like he needs a therapist and some more attention from his parents. So maybe they could just put things on hold for six months and reevaluate? Or maybe Carrie could look for a place in Norfolk? It’s certainly cheaper than Manhattan!
The extreme decision was especially irritating because Carrie and Aidan had been able, until now, to rekindle their romance with an almost suspicious lack of drama, particularly given their turbulent history. The biggest challenge they faced together wasn’t overcoming Carrie’s grief or Aidan’s mistrust — it was finding the right apartment for their biweekly trysts. While anyone who has lived in New York can relate to the struggle to find real estate, Carrie’s solution — buying a massive apartment, presumably with the fortune she inherited from her dead financier husband — was somewhat less accessible. Which leads me to another complaint: Does everyone in this show need to be quite so rich? And when did real estate transactions take the place of believable human interaction?
Maira and Yvonne, what did you make of Season 2? And shall we discuss the fabulous f— elephant in the room, Samantha Jones? Were you thrilled by her return, or just sad she won’t be back on a more permanent basis?
Yvonne Villarreal: Somehow Berger’s Post-It breakup seems quaint and reasonable. As someone who can barely tolerate waiting five minutes in a Starbucks drive-thru line, I have been trying to make sense of this five-year plan Aidan has concocted. (I guess I was hoping all of Aidan’s finger snapping would wake me up from the fever dream. Though, even that detail drove me absolutely insane — the soundless snapping? What?)
Aidan acting like they can’t even look at each other for five years, until his son is out of his teens, is so completely wild to me. There was a part of me that thought maybe I was missing some understanding of his logic because I am not a parent. Then I couldn’t help but wonder if this was Aidan’s twisted ploy at delayed revenge. Asking Carrie, who is pushing 60, to wait five years? And then what? But it’s also in keeping with some of Carrie’s choices in men — guys who have whole lives without her as she tries to find her place within their worlds. It was all the more impossible to be on board with this ridiculous development in the same episode where we got a brief return from Samantha. If anyone would have put a stop to such baloney, it would surely be Samantha Jones.
I don’t know about you two, but trying to process those closing moments alongside that bizarre sex montage was such a weird experience as a viewer. Maira, as an editor, I know you like for us to wrap our stories up with a kicker that brings it all together, so I’m curious how you felt about a minutes-long sex montage to finish off the side character plots. But also, is this the first time Sarah Jessica Parker has shown that much skin in a sex scene for the series? That felt like one of the bigger character developments of the season.
And while I do find that part of the fun of watching this sequel is to see how ridiculous the show can get, I was disappointed it didn’t continue the momentum of feeling a bit like its old self again in the final stretch of episodes. The discussion between Seema and Carrie outside the hair salon was such a powerful moment between friends. I loved how honest and mature Seema is about voicing herself, even while standing outside in salon capes with sopping wet hair. So when viewers learned Lisa was pregnant at middle age, it felt like a missed opportunity to display progress from the show’s last exploration of abortion. Maira, how did you feel about some of the developments this season?
Maira Garcia: For me, this season further highlighted how strangely New York has been portrayed in this series. I spent the last 10 years in the city (Hello, Los Angeles! I’m officially a resident!) and income disparity has become increasingly apparent. To your point, Meredith, about real estate, I get that these are middle-age people who are on the upper end of the income spectrum and therefore better off than the average New York resident, but it makes me panic-sweat about my own financial situation — is this really how people live? The short answer is, no, most people don’t. The average New Yorker is trying to get by and maybe they have the occasional splurge like brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda (if you can tolerate the wait), or a nice cocktail at Death & Co. But that’s the other thing that gets me — the lack of name-dropping, something we saw in the original series. It just doesn’t quite give us the same vibe, where New York hot spots are showcased.
When it comes to the relationships in this series, namely Carrie and Aidan’s, I’m equally baffled by Aidan’s proposal. Are we really expecting Carrie to wait around with Shoe? Is she really made out to be a cat lady? I think not. Waiting a few months is totally reasonable — heck, why didn’t Carrie suggest that Wyatt move in with them on a more permanent basis? His mom described him as a “puzzle.” Weird kids thrive in New York! I was an artsy kid in high school, and I was dying to get out of my small town. Give that kid the big city life, some good therapy, and we wouldn’t have to worry about him getting behind the seat of a car because no one drives!
I was also surprised by Carrie’s commitment to keeping Che in the friend group after their set where they made fun of their relationship with Miranda. Miranda and Carrie have been friends for so much longer, but not only that, Che’s jokes were genuinely hurtful. Can someone please stand up for poor Miranda? Surely, Samantha could have seen through it all. We need her voice of reason. Though I’m glad to see Miranda patched things up with Steve. They have a son together and keeping things amicable is in everyone’s best interest.
Yvonne, the breakup sex and ensuing montage was … interesting. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it; however, it is refreshing to see women in their 50s being sexual and comfortable with their bodies. I applaud them for that.
Blake: That sex montage, much like the one that opened the season, was a tad overwhelming, but at least this time no one was traipsing around their apartment in negligees and kitten heels.
Maira, your point about the NYC name-checking is something that’s been gnawing at me all season. One of the things that made the original series so much fun was seeing which places got mentioned, learning about magical things like Bungalow 8 or Tasti D-Lite or that club where everyone sat on beds. If you didn’t live in New York, it made you want to live there — or at least visit. And if you did, you inevitably sniffed at how obvious the places were. (I say that as someone who started watching “Sex and the City” before I lived in New York, and continued once I lived there.) It’s bizarre that a show set in New York City in 2023 makes virtually no mention of dispensaries or outdoor dining shacks, much less a popular restaurant or club. The reboot is really lacking the sense of place that defined the original; Michael Patrick King and company brought back the sex this season, but forgot about the city, it seems.
And I was also pleased to see Nya get something — [Samantha voice] make that someone — to do in the finale, after mostly sitting around in her apartment all season scrolling through her phone. (At one point I actually started to wonder if Karen Pittman, who plays Nya, was in quarantine during production because it seemed like she was almost never in a scene with anyone else from the cast.) With all due respect to Lisa and Seema, she is easily the most relatable of the new characters — at least for those of us without Birkin bags or little display cases for our designer shoes — and Pittman is totally charming, especially when she’s getting all hot and bothered about olives. Let’s see more of her next season. (And perhaps less of Carrie’s downstairs neighbor whose name I refuse to learn — though I am worried that her conspicuously long conversation with Che was laying the groundwork for a new storyline involving those two. I pray I am wrong.)
Villarreal: And ladies, we must spend some time talking about the brief return of Samantha Jones before we wrap up. Even more exciting than knowing “And Just Like That” would be returning for another season was the leaked news that Kim “I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I’m not enjoying myself” Cattrall would actually be making a return.
And her much-anticipated cameo was both thrilling and another reminder of what we’ll never have again — and how off the characters feel at this stage in their lives. Samantha’s absence as the fiercely loyal, nonjudgmental and totally supportive friend has been felt since “And Just Like That” launched, and the show has tried a number of character combinations to fill that void. But there’s no replacing Samantha Jones. Her return felt true to Samantha’s character in some ways — seemingly putting her issues aside to be there for a friend during a pivotal life transition (Carrie moving out of her apartment, again, but for good). But it also felt bizarre that she would drop everything for that, but not the traumatic and unexpected death of her friend’s husband?
Adding to the weirdness of the moment, the interaction between Samantha and Carrie felt like there had been no tension that had kept them apart all this time, when it would have been nice to have them express, even in passing, how that loss of friendship affected them. With the show returning for another season, it feels unforgivable to know that a call could happen but nothing more.
Garcia: My parting thought is that I’d also love to see more of Nya’s storyline develop now that we know there will be a Season 3. We see her end the night with Toussaint, the handsome Michelin-starred chef who kept being touted but not named. I want good things for her, she deserves it!
And while the cameo with Cattrall was welcome, it’s a reminder that this show is very different from the original and as much as it’s tried to evolve to be more inclusive and modern, it still leaves us longing for more.
Blake: Specifically, more Annabelle Bronstein.
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