'And Just Like That…' Feels Like an Ambien Dream

I’m not sure if I want to wake up yet

Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max
Alexa, Play "Moon River"

The women of And Just Like That… (f.k.a. Sex and the City) reunite where we would expect them to: at a trendy restaurant (that looks like Untitled at The Whitney, which is currently closed) for brunch. Of course, they are not reuniting with each other, but with us. For the sake of the viewer, they give us a rundown on their post-Abu Dhabi lives: Carrie co-hosts a podcast now, Miranda is going to grad school to get a master’s in “Human Rights,” and Charlotte just bought two Oscar de la Renta dresses for her tweenage daughters. It’s unclear whether we should view these new endeavors as achievements or cries for help.

Every other character we know from before is also going through it. Steve is half-deaf. Stanford and Anthony’s marriage is on the rocks. Harry is forced into playing the bad cop parent when daughter #2 refuses to wear the Oscar de la Renta dress. Big is addicted to his Peloton. And then there is Samantha, whose absence looms large over the show in that it is about 65 percent less funny now. Where is she? Well, Carrie fired her as her publicist and then Samantha took a job in London and stopped answering anyone’s calls. Killing her off would have been more realistic; if Samantha loved one thing other than dick, it was her friends.

Then there are our new friends. There’s Sara Ramirez as the non-binary podcast host Che, who tells Carrie she needs to “step her pussy up” after she demured when talking about masturbation on mic. There’s Karen Pittman as a grad school professor with fertility issues, whom Miranda immediately microaggresses in a scene that made me want to crawl out of my skin (“I knew that you were Black when I signed up for this class… that was important to me.” Yikes!). Lastly, there is Charlotte’s PTA friend Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), a “documentarian and a humanitarian” whose husband is “an investment banker who might run for mayor.” Because this show takes place in 2021, none of these women are white, #Resist.

The show has references to Ruth Bader Ginsburg dying her hair and Bridgerton, palatial apartments covered in expensive wallpaper, and, of course, outfits with a capital “O.” Carrie even breaks out the blue Manolos from her wedding, solidifying the fact that, like it or not, the movies are canon. What’s missing is the sharp wit of the original series – though in all fairness, And Just Like That… is already far better than those cursed movies (mostly the second one), which assumed that the SATC audience was stupid, which it isn’t. (Except for the members of that audience who have only ever seen the show’s edited reruns on E!)

There are fewer zingers than there were in the original series, and the jokes tend to miss the mark. When Miranda is bemoaning the fact that her son’s room is a “minefield” of used condoms, Charlotte tries to look on the bright side. “At least he’s using protection,” she says. “Now that is seeing the condom as half full,” adds Carrie. Ba dum tss.

The first episode of And Just Like That… feels like the dream of a Sex and the City superfan on Ambien. Non-binary podcasters smoking weed in elevators, Miranda showing early signs of a drinking problem, Anthony running a sourdough company where hot guys deliver hot loaves straight to your door, (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) Big having a heart attack and dying after a Peloton ride with his favorite instructor, “that whore Allegra.” It’s a lot to cram into 45 minutes. Sex and the City episodes were meant to be structured as 30-minute movies (as Emily Nussbaum reminded the world, the show was just as important to the dawn of the alleged “golden age of television” as The Sopranos), and now they’re even longer, chock full of plot. Someone alert Justin Theroux that nothing is finishing prematurely here.

But perhaps this kind of disappointment is just what happens when you haven’t seen your pals in over a decade. There’s a lot to catch up on, and brunch only lasts so long. Hopefully, as is the case in real life, after the initial deluge of information you can settle back into some semblance of a normal relationship. Or maybe the show will keep being insane. I couldn’t help but wonder which I would prefer.