And Just Like That… review: Sex and the City is back with laughs, tears and a barrage of blunders

Review at a glance

17 years since Sex and The City’s last episode, and 11 since the car-crash sequel film, three out of four of the Manhattan, boy and Cosmo-obsessed women are back. The first two 30 minute episodes, released today, are awkward, unnatural and at points truly, wincingly, painful. But ultimately, you can’t help but walk away warmhearted having caught up with characters that I for one, had sorely missed.

The real question was always – how are they going to kill off Samantha Jones? The short answer is: unconvincingly. In the first 30 seconds we hear Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) declare “she’s not with us anymore,” followed abruptly by a conversation all too meta to be meaningful. Kim Cattrall, who played Jones, walked after fights over payments and treatment in real life. On screen, Bradshaw explains she sacked Samantha as a publicist, so to London she stormed, cutting all ties with her friends-for-life. “I thought I was more to her than an ATM,” Bradshaw wonders. She was, to which the 94 episodes rooted in the power of soul-mate friendships that have come before attested.

But putting the opening clanger aside, Carrie is back with vengeance, and Jessica Parker’s performance is the stylish superglue keeping the whole thing together. In swathes of swoon-worthy outfits – Peter Pan hats here, Dior New Look-silhouette frocks there, and the heavenly return of those navy blue wedding-day Manolo’s – she cracks out one liners like no time has passed. There’s even the addition of pandemic chic sparkly gloves, for elevator buttons. One cavernous hole – her entrancing narrative that walked us from Fifth Avenue apartments to Seventh Avenue shops is gone. Big shame.

She has also kicked her newspaper column (Sex and the City) for a podcast that will make you want to rip your eyes out. It’s about “gender roles, sex roles and cinnamon rolls,” which says enough. There is also a ‘woke button’ which host Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez), the plot’s non-binary addition, presses when the time comes to have the basics of sexual consent spelled out. Unfortunately, Diaz has so far been restricted to graphic gags and “dyke” jokes. I hold out hope for some more character development moving forwards – there are still eight episodes to come.

There is none, however, for Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon). For some unexplicable reason the ex-lawyer turned alcoholic Humans Rights student is a bumbling buffoon, on a mission to tick off every stereotyped racial blunder in book. It’s presumably the SATC team’s way of attempting to embrace social issues head on, but it does so with the sophistication and nuance of a toddler. If you must produce a hopeless character, lost in a new politically correct world, don’t make it Miranda. She was always the kindest, most caring and sensible one anyway. When she threatens to actually rip someone’s head off, the gig is really up.

Still, there is the arresting and amusing addition of Lisa Todd (Nicole Ari Parker). Though strangely branded “Black Charlotte,” she brings some greatly lacking diversity and the best off-beat glamour to the group. Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) is her usual uptight but loveable self, thank God, while gay best friend Stanford Blatch, played by the late Willie Garson, is truly a class act – which comes with a shadow after his passing in September from pancreatic cancer. It won’t be the only tear shed, though. No more on that for now…

If you’re expecting more of the same nineties heyday Sex and the City, you’ll be disappointed. This is And Just Like That…: the Hollywood polished, filler-pumped version, where light streams romantically through windows, Carrie doesn’t smoke, and jokes about greying hair come two a penny. There isn’t that much sex; one hideously graphic masturbation scene and a bit of teenage banging is all we get so far. But I have to admit to plenty of laughs, and a comfort in the reunion of old friends. Prepare to giggle, cry, and cringe a lot. But essential viewing for any city-loving, drama chasing, fashion fanatic? That it most certainly is.

The first two episodes of And Just Like That are available now on Sky Comedy and NOW TV, then weekly on Thursdays

Source link