Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: “Sex and the City: And Just Like That Returns” But Doesn’t Get Going Until Episode 5 Before the Fizz Kicks In


“Sex and the City” won’t go away. Tomorrow, a second season of its spin off, “And Just Like That,” returns to HBO and Max whether you like it or not.

The first season, of course, began with Big’s death on a Peloton and careened down hill from there. Kim Cattrall aka Samantha, was gone. So was the theme music. Many new characters were added to bulk up the new hour long episodes. The show was no longer a comedy but a diatribe.

Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off, with more of the same woke nonsense. Everything seems very on the nose and obvious. There’s little fizz, just fizzle, as if every character has to deliver bullet points. The Black characters are all reminding us that they’re Supporting Their Community and Standing Up for Black Women. The white characters are bending over backwards to show how liberal they are, on the right side of every topic.. It’s very exhausting.

And then there’s the sex. Sarita Choudhury’s Seema has been given Samantha’s old sex life and costumes, and she wears it well. Sara Ramirez is back as Che, which rhymes with They, having lots of graphic sex with Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda. Like all of us in the audience, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie just rolls her eyes and repeatedly says “TMI.” (She’s right.) Charlotte– Kristen Davis — is busy catering to her two teen daughters and shtupping amiable husband Harry (Evan Handler). Carrie has some dates, too, but nothing substantial. She’s busy trading barbs with Candice Bergen as her former Vogue editor, Enid (a Grace Mirabella stand in). Bergen is exceptional, as usual. Tony Danza also guest stars, and makes more sense than almost anyone else.

So there it is, a laundry list to be checked off. By the end of episode 4, I’d had had enough. But the press package contains 7 chapters, so I plowed on and through. To my surprise, the 5th episode is seminal. And also to my surprise, Cynthia Nixon was the director. (She also has Episode 6.) Suddenly there is light and air. The script is fun, and smart. No more of pounding home who’s this or that. It felt like the best of the old show. The next one did, too, and even number 7. Things are looking up.

“And Just Like That” is still annoying over all. Everyone is RICH, money is no OBJECT. It’s a whipped cream fantasy of New York. Carrie used to live in the West Village. But now she tells a new beau her address is 245 East 73rd St. Did I hear that right? The show has moved uptown between Park and Lex and that may be the problem. When you’re writing a check for $100,000 to Enid without thinking twice (Carrie becomes an investor in a website based on the failed of 15 years ago) there’s nowhere to go but down. How I wish Carrie would lose all her money and have to start over.

Anyway, the three main actors remain very engaging. SJP’s Carrie is much likeable this time around. The various cameos all work, and somewhere in here is John Corbett riding to her rescue as old boyfriend, Aiden. David Eigenberg as Steve finally gives into his negative feelings about Miranda’s changes– and I clapped for him. It’s about time. And the show finally uses former “Hamilton” star Christopher Jackson as uptight Herbert in a refreshing way. (Look for inside jokes about George Washington.)

I don’t know how the season ends, but I guarantee you they’ll all be back one last time for a final season. And then a reunion, followed by Sex and the Nursing Home. God speed.

PS One thing I never got about this show: none of the main trio has a single family member. Nothing. They exist in a time vacuum where there’s no past, and no one who needs them in the present other than each other. This year, even Nicole Air Parker gets a mother in law (Charlotte used to have one), who’s modeled on George Jefferson’s mother from a thousand years ago.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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