Every time I write about And Just Like That or Sex and the City, I always feel the need to preface it by saying that the original wasn’t, you know, prestige TV or anything. It wasn’t, like, great. It wasn’t exactly excellent gay rep. It certainly hasn’t aged well, at the very least.
And yet, I can’t stop thinking about how something kept me — at my core, just a rural dyke who owns two pair of “nice pants,” total — watching and watching and watching. And it kept Riese watching and watching, and Carmen watching and watching, and so many of you watching and watching. It is shocking to me how many people are reading these recaps, and that I even came out of recap retirement to write them! Do you understand that children were threatening to axe-murder me about Ezra Fitz the last time I recapped television? That the actual last recap I wrote included the character of William Michael Schuester? That I know Mr. Schue’s middle name is MICHAEL? I am a grizzled lesbian wood witch who has been traumatized by recapping television. Yet, here I am, having volunteered — nay, nearly begged! — for this assignment.
This show is very weirdly like The L Word and Generation Q. A lot — maybe even most of — the time, it makes you roll your eyeballs out of your head. Shane, go to therapy! Carrie, buy some sneakers! But sometimes it just hits so hard and so real, and touches the live-wire of vulnerability buried deep inside your own psyche that you feel impossibly close to these women you would never ever hang out with in real life.
This week’s episode, “Tragically Hip,” feels like Sex and the City at its best. Yes, there’s plenty to pick apart — the original series would have never survived social media — but writer Samantha Irby’s talents are on full display here and these characters finally feel like the ones I know. It’s messy and gut-punchy and hilarious and ultimately triumphant, in those small ways that propel us forward and make a life a life. (Please read Samatha Irby’s newsletter about this episode. Kayla shared it with me this morning and I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard.)
Carrie, it turns out, has a congenital birth defect in her hip, and she needs surgery to straighten it out so she can wear heels again. She’s mostly been limping around using an umbrella as a cane, but when Seema catches her ascending the stairs like Scrooge McDuck, she makes a call and lands Carrie an appointment with a world-class orthopedist in Manhattan on the same day. (Truly the most unrealistic thing that has ever happened in this series.) Miranda and Charlotte, of course, promise to be there through the whole recovery, and they mostly keep that promise. Charlotte even lifts up Carrie and Prince Charmings her to the restroom because she read in a parenting magazine you should always be able to hoist your biggest child above your head in case of emergencies. She’s been doing burpees!
Miranda, however, is slightly distracted. She’s drunk-ordering books for herself about how she has a drinking problem, and then forgetting that she ordered them due to her drinking problem. She’s also crushing on Che Diaz like she’s never crushed on anyone in her life because she’s never had a queer crush before, which of course means she’s crushing on them like a first crush, which means her brain is 13 years old again.
When Che shows up at the hospital to see Carrie, Carrie is rightly like, “Why is my boss visiting me for an outpatient surgery? I can’t even pee by myself! Get them out of here!” Miranda gets them out of there by inviting them to stay for lunch, just the two of them, a couple of strangers telling their whole entire life stories to each other — their trauma, their most formative experiences, their secret hopes and deepest fears — over sandwiches. Classic lesbian first date. It’s very weird seeing Sara Ramirez in a hospital without scrubs, but you do get the feeling Che is prepared to do CPR or open heart surgery at any second, armed with nothing but a butter knife and confidence.
Che says that one time, in the hospital, they got diagnosed with diverticulitis — but their dad thought the doctor said “dyke-culitis.” Like medically, the doctor was able to see on a colonoscopy that they’re gay. I’d like to think I’m that gay too. That’s my main life goal now. I’d like to be getting a mammogram one day and have the tech be like, “Your right breast is slightly bigger than your left breast and — oh, did you know you’re a lesbian?”
Miranda says nothing like that has ever happened to her, but one time she did diagnose herself with fucks-nemia and so she quit her law firm. Che looks at her suspiciously, like does she know that was only the beginning of her evolution? But clearly she does not, all wide eyes and smiling at Che like a wolf; so they do not push it.
Later, when it’s Miranda’s turn to sit with Carrie during recovery, Che shows up at her apartment with a professional mic for better podcasting and also tequila, which isn’t exactly the best gift for a person who’s on Percocet, so Miranda offers to do some shots with Che instead, while Carrie naps. Tequila leads to weed and weed leads to more shotgunning — which Miranda asks for this time — and shotgunning leads to more giggling, towel smacking, hand-grabbing, and just like that… it’s Scissor City!
It’s a perfect time for Carrie to wake up and realize she needs to pee. She calls out for Miranda but Miranda can’t hear her over the sound of herself becoming gay. Carrie finally peeps her and Che doin’ it in the kitchen, in the reflection of a mirror. She looks, gasps, looks away, can’t believe what she thought she saw, looks again, gets confirmation, gasps again, and covers her eyes with her hands. Finally she decides her best bet is to pee into the Diet Peach Snapple bottle on the nightstand, which she is miraculously able to do — but then she spills it all over her bed.
When Che and Miranda finish up, they kiss kiss kiss kiss, and then Che bounces to New Jersey for a gig. Carrie calls out, like, “Hey lesbo, you wanna come in here and help your piss-soaked friend with the BROKEN HIP?”
Miranda tries to play it cool, it’s fine, everything’s fine, she’s a top lawyer and she can logic and reason and argue her way out of everything and it’s fine. Carrie feels less than fine, due to her apartment smelling like weed and her clothes smelling like pee and also she just had to sit through her friend having sex with her boss in the kitchen while she was in a benzo haze. Not as bad as waking up in an empty bed where your husband used to sleep beside you before he died in your arms, but not exactly a peaceful slumber transition. Carrie is so mad. Like that kind of mad where you’d rather sit there in your own pee pajamas than let the other person help you because you are SO MAD. Miranda keeps moving, talking, getting fresh sheets from the drawers, fresh PJs, and finally Carrie is like, “STOP. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. LIKE, IN AN OVERARCHING WAY. WHAT IS GOING ON!”
Miranda finally cracks. She says she’s unhappy. No, not just unhappy. She’s fucking miserable. She hates her marriage, she hates her life, and yeah, she’s drinking too much, because it’s the only thing that fuzzies the awareness that she’s walking through the world like some kind of brunch-lady zombie. Carrie says, very compassionately, “Since when?” And Miranda says, “I don’t know. Since forever.” She says she’s sorry about Che and the Snapple pee and just everything, but what just happened in the kitchen, she’s never felt like that. Like ever. In her five decades on earth, she’s never felt that way before.
(For everyone out there saying people like Che Diaz don’t exist? Oh, they do. And may the goddexx bless you with the great good fortune to stumble upon a butch just like them at least once in your life.)
Anyway, Miranda goes home and pours out all of her alcohol.
Things are also queer over on Park Ave. where Charlotte’s kid has started going by “Rock,” which Charlotte finds out on a PTA Zoom because all the other parents are calling them Rock. Oh, also, their pronouns are they/them. Charlotte marches into the living room where Rock’s playing video games and Lily’s doing homework and demands to know what in the trans heck is going on. Rock, unfazed, says they came out in a TikTok, and it’s not their fault their mom and dad didn’t see it. They play it for them. They’re wearing a backwards baseball cap and rapping about R-O-C-K — and in my favorite moment from the whole show, they start singing along with the TikTok and so does Lily. R-O-C-K. It’s perfect.
Charlotte and Harry don’t handle the news super well. They have a meeting at the school to ask why no one told them this was going on, and also to demand some answers about why they’re letting teenagers choose their own names and gender. The teacher and the counselor patiently explain that they allow teenagers to choose their own names and gender because they’re the ones who know their own names and gender. They offer therapy, but Charlotte and Harry aren’t sure their child needs therapy. But no, the therapy is for Charlotte and Harry. Rock is thriving, thank you very much. Harry doesn’t want someone else talking like they know his kid more than he does; it really upsets him. Charlotte doesn’t want to overreact. Or under-react. (Carrie: “Charlotte, when have you ever under-reacted to anything in your life?”) Like how does their child know this? They’re just a child! What if they’re just trying to be cool!
Rock’s teacher is like, “You know, generally, human beings take the path of least resistance. So choosing a marginalized and deeply oppressed identity, one that is, in fact, the hot button political issue of the moment, one that leaves them open to being scapegoated by an entire political party and multiple religions, that’s not exactly a ‘cool’ choice.”
Charlotte’s going to get it right, and she finally uses the correct pronouns at the end of the episode, which makes Carrie smile and pat her knee, but man, she is torn out of the frame.
I never really know how to write about fictional parents and their fictional queer kids because I was honestly kind of raised by wolves, but this does feel pretty real in the very privileged world of wealthy white people who send their kids to private school on the Upper West Side and care enough to do so many burpees they can carry a grown woman to the toilet, in the off-chance they ever need to scoop up their teenagers in a fire and haul them over their shoulders down five flights of stairs and across the block to Central Park. The endless fretting and ultimately the getting where they need to be. The main thing that feels right, though, is that Rock knows who they are, that their friends are on-board, and especially that they have the full love and support of their sister.
I seriously cannot believe how fucking gay this show is. I knew it was going to be gayer than the original, but I didn’t know it was going to be mostly gay. Like 2/3 gay. We’ve only seen sex on-screen one time in this whole season, and it’s been queer sex. Truly, who’d have thunk it?
Hey guess who also makes an appearance this week? Samantha Jones! Not in person, but in a story Carrie tells about how Samantha had to pull out Carrie’s diaphragm in season two, and it took like a whole entire minute of her fiddling around in Carrie’s vagina, and that’s friendship. Carrie texts to give Samantha a heads up. She was on pain meds and she said Samantha’s full name. Samantha texts back, says “One of my finest moments” and that she’s glad Carrie’s vagina’s getting some airtime. Carrie takes it one step too far. She tells Samantha she misses her. She gets three dots back, for a second, then nothing.
I know a lot of people really hate this reboot. I know a lot of people don’t want to see Big dead, don’t want to see Carrie Bradshaw with hip problems, don’t want to see Steve — the only really good guy on the show — getting tossed to the sea like this, don’t want to see Miranda struggling with the reality of her enormous privilege and her depression at being closeted her whole life, don’t want to see Charlotte bumble around in the same way. But I really kind of love it. Life is hard and messy and heartbreaking and unexpected and if the last two years have taught us anything it’s that nothing is ever permanent and so many things are an illusion (including control of, like, anything) and the most we can ever really hope for is to love and be loved and to be lucky enough to be aware of it in the moment.
Or, in the wise words of Samantha Jones, “This love stuff is a motherfucker.”