Believe it or not, the Autostraddle TV Team has a LOT to say about “And Just Like That” — about the characters we loved and hated, the Sex and the City reboot’s attempt to integrate more POC and LGBTQ+ characters and so much more. In fact we have SO much to say that I am going to stop the intro right here so we can get into it!
Q: First things first: what is your relationship to the original Sex and the City and what were you anticipating for the reboot?
Riese: I started watching it on DVD while living in the NYU dorms in the summer of 2001, and then, back in college in Michigan in the ensuing years, wrecked with anxiety over my boyfriend’s latest activities, I’d curl up in my room, watch Sex and the City on DVD and I’d write in my journal: ONE DAY YOUR LIFE WILL BE FAR MORE FABULOUS THAN THIS. It was my blueprint for an adulthood of creative fulfillment, enriching female friendships, nightmare heterosexuality, sexual liberation and brunch. I watched the fifth season as it aired with my Macaroni Grill friends, and then the final season on DVD in the summer of 2004, which is the summer I actually moved to New York City for good! Then I asked my ex-boyfriend to apologize to my friends and ask for their blessing if he really wanted me back, like Big had done for Carrie in the finale. (He did, but he obtained no blessings lol)
There are lines and plots from Sex and the City that had a fundamental impact on my understanding of relationships and still do, even though I have grown and changed and my perspective on the overall messages of SATC has shall we say, shifted radically. It also taught me that bisexuality was a lie and lesbianism was tedious! So for the reboot I was eager for a more LGBTQ+ representation, I think, but beyond that I mostly just hoped it wouldn’t be completely unwatchable. I remember we had a convo in the TV Channel about whether or not we were expecting it to be good, and I was like “I think it’s gonna be bad.”
Heather: I watched the original Sex and the City with my college best friend who I was deeply in love with. She is the straightest person on the face of the earth, which was fine because I was still pretending that there’s no way I’m a lesbian, so she got to watch a bunch of heterosexual romances and sex so she could build her little fairy tales, and I got to watch her watching them so I could learn how straight people behave and mimic it for another five years. A win-win! I never identified with any of the characters in the original series because I was just a flannel-wearing girl from rural Georgia who barely had enough money to get by and absolutely no interest in men — but dang, I loved their friendships. Their deep, seemingly unbreakable bonds that found them back in each other’s company, day and night, always and always, no matter what else was going on in their lives. I expected this series to be exactly like that series, to be honest, except for I thought Miranda would come out and Che Diaz would be more dynamic and less — well, I’ll get into that below.
Shelli: It came out when I was in middle school but I didn’t really find it until high school, and because I was obsessed with NYC, fashion, writing and anything that had to do with being a cool single girl in a big city — I loved it. I wouldn’t say I lived through Carrie and the girls but I absolutely escaped into the world as I did with other shows and movies about city girls who dressed well and had lotsa sex. I used to imagine that my life would be just as glamorous, sexy and cool when I was a grown-up — my favorite character was (and still is and will forever be) Carrie’s apartment.
I didn’t really know what to expect for the reboot. I know that I didn’t think it was necessary, but I also love nostalgia, so the thought of learning where these characters were now was kind of dope and I could understand why big fans of the show would wanna revisit a world they were so deeply invested in for such a long time. I did however worry that the wrong folks would have too much to say about it. Meaning that yes, while I did watch and dig the original series — it was never meant for me to find myself in. I was a teenage girl watching it, not the 30-something women whose lives it was meant to mimic/see themselves in. The reboot was meant to reflect their lives now as 50-something year old women and the lives of those same women it was originally intended to draw in — so I was wary that the “wrong” pop culture critics/fans and their takes would go to the top of the twitter file and make for much harsher judgement of the reboot than was maybe warranted.
Riese: That’s a really good point, Shelli.
Drew: The first summer after I came out I watched The L Word. The second summer after I came out I watched Sex and the City. I joked that it was because I identified more with being a lesbian than being a woman. But it did feel like an essential part of my The L Word/Buffy/Glee/Drag Race journey of catching up on TV I missed while attempting to be a straight boy.
I’d seen an episode here and there, but watching the show straight through was a totally illuminating experience. Mainly, it made me understand my sister so much better. Sex and the City is her bible — she still references the show in regard to her life — and so many of her choices — for better or worse or worser — made more sense.
Like any of the shows from 10-20 years ago, there were things about it that made me cringe but mostly I really enjoyed the experience. The world of Sex and the City was so different than my own that its errors didn’t feel personal in the way some of the other shows did — even when it was being homophobic or transphobic. Of course, I knew the reboot would be more personal in its attempt to be queer, but also Miranda always felt so queer to me anyway that I was excited to see them try. Losing Samantha — the one character on the show who actually liked sex — was a real loss but I was still on board for queer Miranda.
Carmen: Sex and the City aired while I was in middle and high school, but I didnt start watching it until my freshman year of college, when it was already off the air. My friend and I would go to the video store (yes) to rent DVDs (yes) and watch them while we drank fake cosmos (Ocean Spray cranberry juice and vodka, we’d pretend) in our dorm rooms. It felt really common with all the gays and girls in my college, so much so that when the movie finally came out a few weeks after my graduation it felt like everyone I knew was in the theatre with me opening night?
I moved to New York that fall, and the first thing I did was buy the SATC hot pink DVD set. My first roommate and I watched the whole series from beginning to end as a sort of goodnight routine? It was sweet and fun, and I loved having a bit of Carrie’s city with me as I explored the city on my own.
I don’t know what I expected of the reboot, honestly. I was dreading it when I first heard about it!! I could not imagine a show less in need of a reboot!! And then after they cast Sara Ramirez, I begrudgingly started paying attention. Mostly I think I wanted the same feelings and vibe of the original, but a little less white and a little more gay. Low bar. When the first trailer dropped, I remember thinking — “Oh my God, they are really going to pull this off!!!”
I was… wrong about that.
Q: I’m not sure we can get too deep into this conversation without addressing the name on everybody’s lips: the weed enthusiast, comedy concert legend, queer lothario of Brooklyn, the one and only Che Diaz. Let me ask you this: Che Diaz???
Riese: From their first press of the “woke moment” button I found myself in distress. Sara Ramirez is so great and hot, but everything they do and say is insufferable? There is no comedy at the concert? They show up uninvited to their employee’s hip surgery aftermath and fuck her friend in the kitchen? They are very one-note and the note they are is the note in which God-Des and She performed the eating pussy rap at Shane’s bachelorette party.
Drew: Riese, that is the best description of Che Diaz I’ve ever read in the weeks or decades — unclear — that they’ve been in my life.
Heather: It has absolutely BLOWN MY MIND-GRAPES how many people have insisted that Che Diazes don’t exist.
Shelli: THAT PART.
Riese: Have they??? Insisted that Che Diazes don’t exist?
Carmen: Oh absolutely.
Riese: I absolutely think people like Che Diaz exist, for sure, but that doesn’t mean the way Che Diaz is written is objectively good. I mean their podcast is bananas bad and their motivational speeches in random rainbow-laden public squares feel like they were produced by a straight person putting a bunch of motivational jargon into a queer word bot. The problem isn’t Che, it’s that everybody around Che is written as though they think Che is a demi-god full of wisdom and charisma. I buy that those two heteros at the auction watched their comedy concert ten times, but I don’t buy that Gen Z is creaming all over their podcast.
Heather: Straight viewers: yes, obviously, and I don’t care about that. But so many gay viewers! So many people in our tweets and comments! And I’m just like, “But how? How have you never met a Che Diaz? They’re EVERYWHERE.” I could list, off the top of my head, two handfuls of Che Diazes I know in real life, with their confidence and their swagger and their pep talks and that very “strike first with whatever’s making you feel awkward about me before you can strike me” mentality. And while I do completely agree with you, Riese, that Che is written very one-note, I think Sara Ramirez has brought as much charm and vulnerability to the character as they can.
Because the thing about Che Diazes is that they can certainly drive you nuts, but they’re also always the people who are there with the perfectly-timed monogrammed handkerchief, the deeply inappropriate laugh that was just what you needed on your darkest day, the way that they are a beacon of courage to people who don’t yet have the ability to be so out and so proud, the suits, the drive, the competence. I think the problem with Che is the problem with every other character of color on the new series: They are all under-written. They’re not there to serve as fully realized characters who volley with the main trio; they’re there to be the backdrop against which the white characters work out whatever thing they need to work out for their own character arcs. I keep saying in my recaps that it’s like Che, Seema, Nya, and LTW exist on a different show, and even now, having watched the season finale, I still feel like that. The show invested more in Samantha’s memory, and her off-screen presence, than it did in any of these characters of color.
Shelli: I — just don’t fucking know. On one side, I dig what Che was supposed to represent and understand why they bought them in. They were to be the millennial representation of a show that would be filled with Gen X’rs right.
Carmen: I do think that’s what they were going for! But that also does not make sense to me, as Sara Ramirez is firmly Gen X in age. Which is great! Sara’s actually an excellent representation of how a queer, person of color Gen X icon exists and is admired by many generations coming up after them. I just don’t think Che as a Millennial/Gen Z icon was ever going to fly.
Riese: Yes, totally! I didn’t really think of it in those terms but you’re right, Carmen. There are so many QPOC Gen X icons bringing the house down on Olivia Cruises and similar spaces (I say this with full-bodied appreciation!) and still earning admiration from younger generations. It makes more sense to position Che in that way than as a Gen X-er intended to be read as a millennial? There’s a whole generation of queer comics in their 40s and 50s that Che could’ve easily fit into, and it would’ve been cool to see that yes, 46-year-olds can also have these identities and approach relationships in these ways that are often ahistorically portrayed as more popular with younger generations.
Shelli: I think it’s hard to pull off. I get that there were only so many ways to bring that in that they could do that would make sense. They couldn’t go the route of giving Carrie a millennial assistant (already did it in the movie), none of the characters kids fit the age bracket, It would take up far too much script time to give one of them a younger neighbor in the way it would make sense, and da da da — so why not a love interest. I GET how they landed on the idea of Che, but the actual portrayal is where I’m stuck. Stuck in the way where yes I cringe at them lots of the time they are on screen but… don’t hate it? I love the idea of writing queer characters who are kind of jerky? Because so often we are used in film & TV to teach, console or make viewers laugh. What didn’t land for me was some of the way the character was written, which felt like it was from another generation’s viewpoint.
Drew: I agree with you, Heather and Shelli, that Che isn’t an unrealistic character. My problem is I don’t think the writers think Che is annoying for the same reasons we do. I get the feeling that they’re like oh these queer millennials with their pronouns and their polyamory it’s all so complicated! And I’m like… no Che isn’t obnoxious because they’re non-binary and non-monogamous — it’s everything else! And OF COURSE there are people like this. Some of my best friends are comedians, but God there are few people more insufferable than an insufferable comedian. In fact, I resent my comedian friends for introducing me to so many other comedians. Any trans comedian who would host a podcast with Carrie Bradshaw and some misogynist dude was going to be terrible. I just don’t think the writers really understand what makes them terrible — are we even supposed to think they’re terrible??
Che feels like someone who is written by people who have never met a non-binary person and have never met a comedian but have heard a lot of gossipy stories about both.
Carmen: Where’s my Che Diaz “woke moment” button! Because now is a GREAT time to point out that even though the writers’ room for And Just Like That included queer, Black, and South Asian writers (along with straight white writers) — there was NOT A SINGLE Latine or trans writer. No one! And I think, more than anything, that shows up in how Che is written and how they were received. No one has spent the last 9 or 10 weeks popping off about Seema or Lisa Todd Wexley (LTW forever!), and I truly believe that’s why. Sara Ramirez deserved better than this role and these writers. They just did.
Riese: Right. And I don’t want to generalize even though I am about to, but going back to Drew’s point but they are simply such a bad comedian. There are so many trans comics doing compelling, subversive and often very dark stuff (which I love of course because I’m dark). And AJLT is giving us Change Your Life Change Your Pronouns Suck My Dick??? A non-binary comic saying “suck my dick”? REALLY?! Like come on?! I don’t think the writers find Che annoying. I think they think they wrote a character that is a successful queer lothario and that they want us to laugh at their jokes and cheer at their speeches.
Q: How has Miranda’s queer awakening landed for you?
Riese: I was very excited about it but I have found myself pulling my hood over my eyes and sliding off the couch onto the floor during all of their scenes together! I feel such intense second-hand embarrassment, I truly have not stared directly at the television with my eyeballs unobscured and focused for the entirety of any Che/Miranda scenes. Her breakup convo with Steve was so unsettling? I feel really bad for Steve? I guess I am still waiting for Che to tell Miranda they’re spending the summer living in a van on a comedy concert tour with a $3-a-day food budget and visiting ex-lovers on farms across the hinterlands and see if that is the kind of thing Miranda has the physical energy to enjoy or the emotional energy to endure.
Heather: I think Miranda’s queer awakening made perfect sense for her character, and I think it played out in a way that was realistic.
Carmen: I agree!!
Heather: Again, the idea that Mirandas don’t exist is SO WEIRD. I wish everyone who is out here yelling about THERE IS NO WAY Miranda would act like this could read our You Need Help inbox! There are so many women who have realized they’re queer, or realized they want to be in a queer relationship, after being married to men for a very long time! And there’s very rarely some neat and tidy way for the queer person to make that happen! It makes sense to me that Miranda would treat Steve the way she did, even though it made me bummed out for Steve. Falling in love, falling in lust, falling down the queer rabbit hole for the first time, it really does kind of make people go a little bit crazy.
Riese: I didn’t say it didn’t make sense for her character or that Mirandas don’t exist. I just said I did not enjoy watching it!!
Shelli: I fucking dug it to bits. Because it was like, damn this is a reality for so many women right? And I hate to talk so much about age/generations, but it’s an even bigger reality for women of that generation, so I think it’s great that they showed it. Because it’s probably the story of some fan who watched the show originally and gets to see their story represented with these people they have followed over the years who feel like friends — because that’s what envelopes us into these shows right? Like, that’s what gives them this longevity is because we feel so connected to them that they feel like part of our lives, and isn’t that the beauty of TV & Film? Like, isn’t that the point — to be able to search and connect outside of your real life and sometimes find that solace or sameness that you’re in search of?
Drew: Nothing about this journey for Miranda strikes me as false. But I think people need to learn the difference between “this isn’t realistic” and “I don’t like this” or “this isn’t being done well.” I do think the main problem with the storyline is Steve.
I hate that I’m defending him because with the original series I was extremely anti-Steve. But it’s gross what they’ve done with him AND undercuts Miranda’s storyline. Imagine how much more interesting it would be if Steve was fingerblasting Miranda bi-weekly and yet she still felt drawn to explore her queerness. Maybe some straight couples really do go years without having sex but I don’t buy that for addicted-to-her-vibrator Miranda or owns-a-bar Steve.
Heather: Yes, and let me tell you what I hated about this storyline: The way the writers gave Steve a disability to make him seem older, more bumbling, and more pitiful.
Shelli: I fucking hated how they made Steve look!! I think there could have been a way to show him moving through this storyline without kinda erasing the Steve we know so well. The way they basically made him out to be some geriatric bozo was rude as shit.
Carmen: Also? Ableist as fuck.
Carmen: I found out from the Sex and the City podcats that listen to (Every Outfit on Sex and the City, and yes I’m that person, but it’s so good and funny and surpriginly gay as fuck) that they wrote in Steve’s hearing loss because the actor who plays him, David Eigenberg, has experienced real life hearing loss and uses hearing aids. The fact that the writers turned it into a recurring punchline? Made me absolutely sick to my stomach.
Riese: (I’ve also been listening to that podcast!!!)
Heather: When Miranda yelled at Steve to put in his hearing aid, which he found in the couch cushions, so she could ask him for a divorce, I was as grossed out as I ever have been with this whole fictional universe.