[Editor’s Note: Spoilers ahead.]
Television revivals are tricky. Streaming services have allowed us to revisit old favorites in new, high-definition productions, but a well-executed revival is rare to come by. Two of my comfort shows faced rude awakenings with recent revivals. The new “Gossip Girl” soiled the show’s name with subpar acting and plotlines. “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” single-handedly destroyed the character of Rory, my adolescent role model. (But I digress.)
In December, “Sex and the City” made a return to HBO Max through the reboot “And Just Like That...” nearly two decades after the show ended. The original series embodied the spirit of Manhattan and its self-proclaimed “fabulous, single women.” It was iconic, trailblazing and definitive of the early 2000s cultural turning point. Carrie Bradshaw walked so Serena van der Woodsen from “Gossip Girl” could run, or rather strut, along the same blocks of the Upper East Side.
While my first encounter with the show was in high school, years after the show’s wrap, Carrie’s world had struck me as timelessly enviable. It was studded with stunning outfits, dating adventures and a loyal friend group. If these three aspects were the heart and soul of the original series, the revival simply flatlines. I will concede and say the show’s dedication to fashion is alive and well. My favorites from the revival included Carrie’s light blue Norma Kamali bodycon dress and purple sequin Fendi Baguette bag, Miranda’s red Likely jumpsuit and the consistently impressive shoe collection ranging from Manolo Blahniks to unfortunate (yet forgivable) Birkenstocks.
“And Just Like That…” tests the waters of mature and vulnerable romances. Miranda’s passionate-love-turned-platonic-companionship with Steve is unstable and sex-less. Charlotte struggles to balance her pursuits of social status with her communication with Harry. Most surprising though was Big’s death. Hastily and sloppily, the show’s most significant and controversial male character was eliminated from the picture, pushing Carrie back into single life. It is unfathomable why producers decided that after six seasons and two movies of Carrie and Big’s whirlwind romance, the revival was the time to kill their darlings — literally.
Let us discuss another ludicrous loss. The revival does not include Samantha, reducing the friend group to a trio. She’s not dead though, she just “moved to London.” Through my excessive use of TikTok and guilty commitment to Hollywood drama, it is my understanding that Samantha’s actress Kim Cattrall had struggled with personal differences with producers and co-actors. A revival without Samantha is unsurprisingly disappointing and sass-deprived. I question whether a revival without the fourth member of the girls’ brunch group was worth it. The plot doesn’t do the London excuse justice, painting Samantha as a friend who doesn’t text back or show up to Big’s funeral. Her fiercely loyal and protective older-sister persona is completely compromised.
What the show lacks in allegiance to familiar faces, it attempts to make up for in poorly-done 2021-appropriate “wokeness.” Miranda horrifies her classmates and law professor by spewing a chain of microaggressions in one of her first scenes. The no-nonsense lawyer suddenly presents herself as a clueless “Karen” who seems to learn about the Black Lives Matter movement through misinformed Facebook posts. Meanwhile, Carrie is starred in an over-exaggerated and painfully obnoxious podcast that focuses on social awareness and sexual exploration in an inorganic way.
Regardless, some of the show’s efforts are realistic in the way they portray Manhattan’s Gen-X navigating the new Internet era. Charlotte and Harry’s gradual adaptation to their child’s newfound non-binary identity and Carrie’s efforts to remember her coworker’s pronouns are endearing — similar to how a mother might use “Instagram” as a verb.
In short, the best thing to come out of this revival may be the accurate casting of a grown-up, ever-ginger Brady or Carrie’s seemingly infinite purse collection.
And just like that … another revival lets us down.
Show: “And Just Like That…”
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis
Favorite episode: “Diwali”
If you liked: “Sex and the City”
Where to watch: HBOMax
Shamrocks: 2 out of 5