‘And Just Like That’ Recap: Carrie, Please Just Leave Natasha Alone
As we slide into the third episode of And Just Like That . . ., we’re immediately told that Carrie has relaxed into her role as the supposed resident sex expert at her podcast, by way of a dirty Citibike joke. At the same time, it’s made abundantly clear (for the thousandth time) that Che Diaz (played by Sara Ramirez) is easily the coolest person on this cast.
It’s a relief that we’ve transitioned past the extremely uncomfortable — and screechy — fight with Miranda at Big’s funeral in the second episode and have moved on to Che being both hilarious and compassionate. Carrie, who’s dressed in a very, shall we say, eclectic outfit complete with a sparkling long-sleeved sheer shirt underneath a puff-sleeve, polka dot dress, and a Gucci belt bag tossed over top, introduces the idea that she’s “happy, sad” following Big’s death.
The show wants us to think Carrie’s moved into a space where she can look fondly and gratefully at the time she had with Big, while also feeling sad about him not being here. As Che says, being happy, sad is a beautiful way to look at grief.
And yet. We’ve been riding shotgun in Carrie’s emotional rollercoaster for decades now, so we know better. She may arrive at happy, sad again down the line, but if ever there was a flashing red sign that reads “DANGER AHEAD”, it is Carrie being at peace with the loss of Big.
Refreshingly, we get a more honest insight when Carrie meets up with Miranda for the will reading, though not before Miranda is roped into going to Che’s Netflix comedy filming (for which she is thrilled to an apparently giddy degree). It all takes a sharp turn into angry, sad though when Carrie finds out that Big has left Natasha (yes, his ex-wife Natasha) a million dollars in his will. What ensues is a clashing of technological eras, where Carrie starts with some light social media stalking before descending into full-blown, real-life creepiness. Blinded by her own grief, Carrie blows back into Natasha’s life (the same woman whose life she imploded decades ago).
I can empathise with Carrie feeling like she needs closure from Natasha, since she can’t very well ask Big about his will. But she also doesn’t really have the right to just blow in and demand answers from Natasha. I think I speak for all of us when I yell at my television for Carrie to just leave poor Natasha alone. It’s these Carrie clangers — the moments that are selfish but understandable, and completely eye-roll-inducing — that make And Just Like That . . . feel like an authentic Sex and the City reboot. The fact that it all amounts to Big just feeling guilty about screwing Natasha’s life up years earlier only serves to remind us of the ways Carrie and Big’s relationship was not perfect, not ever.
The cutesy side story in episode three is between Stanford and Charlotte, who are vying for Carrie’s love and attention. While this is sold to us as exactly that, it really feels more like Stanford taking over Samantha’s post next to Carrie to balance out the foursome once again. What’s more pressing is Charlotte’s daughter Rose explaining to her that she doesn’t identify as female and, no shocks here, Charlotte doesn’t manage the conversation well. You can tell she wants to understand her kid but also doesn’t know how to navigate it, and when she raises the topic with her long-time friend, Anthony, she’s told to ignore it altogether, which (it goes without saying) is terrible advice.
Thankfully, we see one of our newer characters, Che, shine a light on the topic during their comedy show. This scene is interesting because it clearly sparks something within both Miranda and Charlotte. While Charlotte appears to leave the show feeling more confident in understanding and accepting different gender identities, Miranda seems to have more questions about her own sexuality after Che says “better to be confused than to be sure — because when you’re sure, then nothing can change. And we all have something we need to change . . . so change! Do it!”.
After the comedy show, Charlotte and Carrie skip the after-party and head home, but Miranda goes back into the bar looking jazzed, where she has a very intimate moment with Che themselves. But that’s not Miranda’s entire story in episode three, and frankly, the writers are obsessed with her. Because, if there was a hum of alcoholism coming from Miranda’s camp in the first two episodes, it feels like a yell or a scream in episode three. We may all remember her popping in for a cheeky vino on the way to her first class, but she was also impatient and rude to the bartender at Big’s funeral, complained that her wine took more than 30 seconds to arrive at brunch and, the final giveaway? Charlotte finds a handful of tiny bottles tucked into the front pocket of Miranda’s backpack. Don’t get me started on Carrie telling Charlotte to “stop noticing things” when she tries to express her concerns over Miranda’s drinking. Bad, bad friend behaviour.
Miranda has always been done pretty dirty, but even this feels like too much. While everyone else’s storylines are putting along at a reasonably steady space, Miranda’s feels like whiplash. In this episode alone, we find out that she and Steve haven’t had sex in years, she may be an alcoholic, and the episode closes out with her allowing Che to blow their smoke into her mouth. All interesting stories, sure. One or two would have been plenty.
Before I sign off, I want to say that I’ve thought a lot about this show since writing my first recap last week. I’ve read and listened to all of the opinions and hot takes from people who are of varying ages and levels of love for Sex and the City.
One such take is that anyone under 35 isn’t really entitled to an opinion about this reboot because it’s not been made for us — we were too young to watch the original show in real-time and so we do not have a leg to stand on now. I can’t say I disagree. The masturbation scene with Big was uncomfortable and all of the overt nods to time passing (Miranda’s hair! A falling out with Samantha! Instagram! A podcast!) are clunky at best.
But as I’ve watched the first three episodes of And Just Like That . . . I feel like I’m trying to solve an unsolvable riddle. In the ‘90s and ‘00s, Sex and the City was revolutionary for so many reasons, but like a lot of shows from the same era of television, it hasn’t aged well. The critiques about transphobia, racism, and gentrification are valid and undeniable. But the very same problems are shining through in this series — Anthony (a gay man) making comparisons between Rose coming out and her wanting to be a dog when she was younger is just one horrible example. Miranda’s entire storyline with her professor, Nya, is another.
What I can’t figure out is what exactly the writers are trying to do here. Is this reboot just as problematic as the original show or are these latest faux pas’ so overt, as if to say, “don’t worry, fans, we’re in on it now — we were always part of the solution!”. And can a show that perpetuated such damaging ideas for so many years (decades, even) ever really be part of the solution? Personally, I don’t think so.
Have the racist comments and ignorance about gender identities been included for people in their 50s and 60s who are the same ages as these characters and may feel the same way? Do I just not get it because I’m in my 30s? I have no answers, except to say that maybe this confusion stems from And Just Like That . . . not being made for me. I have no answers, just questions.
Will any of this stop me from having opinions about the show each week? Hell, no! And I hope it won’t stop you either. I’ll see you next week for my next recap of And Just Like That, which you can stream right now on BINGE. And you can read my last recap here.