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How ‘And Just Like That…’ Can Finally Become Chic in Season Three

How ‘And Just Like That…’ Can Finally Become Chic in Season Three

They came, we saw, and Kim Cattrall. But Season Two of Max’s Sex and the City revival was still a mess. Here’s how the gals can right the ship

And just like that… another chaotic, traumatizing, and strangely addictive season of And Just Like That has come to an end. Season Two introduced penis pumps and a palatial new apartment into Carrie Bradshaw’s world, plus the reappearance of her former flame Aidan Shaw and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it return of Samantha Jones.

Ahead of the finale, it was announced that AJLT would be returning for a third season. Max’s Head of Content Sarah Aubrey said in a statement that Season Two ranks as the most-streamed Max original and the most-watched returning Max original ever. (Never underestimate the viewing power of women and gay men). 

Season Two of AJLT was a bumpy ride. Early on, the dialogue was creaky and the direction of some of the characters, particularly Miranda, was completely baffling. But Episode Six, “Trick Or Treat,” provided a small glimmer of hope. Episode Seven, “February 14th” — where Aidan reappeared with a cinched waist that the queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race would be proud of — was the best episode yet. Episode Eight gave us the best scene of the show so far, when Seema and Carrie had a devastating heart-to-heart in the rain outside a hair salon.

With the show gaining momentum toward the end of Season Two, it feels like next season might be a chance to finally get more things right than wrong. What needs to change? And what does it need to do more of?

AJLT has worked best when it has found the right balance Sex and the City’s past and present, where the characters have evolved without becoming completely different people. When Aidan returned, it felt like the “old” characters fell into comfortingly familiar territory: Charlotte explored her relationship with work and motherhood, now that her children are getting older. Career-girl Miranda was suddenly single again and back in power suits. Carrie became the selfish friend we used to love to hate, driven entirely by her own reckless emotions. The Season Two finale dinner party brought together the characters from the “old” show, plus the new faces. For the first time, they were all in a room together — and it didn’t feel totally absurd. 

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Now that Carrie’s new world feels more convincing, Season Three will have to find ways to allow the new characters to flourish without deviating too much from what we love about the original characters. Sometimes AJLT has forgotten that it works best when Carrie is the Main Character and the central prism through which we view everyone else. In Season Three, she needs to be in the thick of it all. Personally, I would love to see her voice-over return throughout the show, not just at the beginning and end of each episode. That way, the threads that bind the characters together will be even more clear.

Speaking of original characters, the third season of AJLT will once again have to answer the “Samantha question.” In Season One, Samantha’s absence was explained in the opening minutes of the first episode and Ms. Jones made appearances via text. In Season Two, I found myself thinking of Samantha much less as I became more invested in Carrie’s current circle. So it was an interesting decision to throw Kim Cattrall back into the mix with a cameo in the finale episode right at the moment when fans had come to terms with never seeing her again. (Was it the most expensive phone call in TV history? Probably). 

Now, conversations have restarted about ways that Samantha might appear on the show. Surely, she could be given solo scenes set in London and communicate with Carrie via telephone call. This was the format for most of the first movie, when the PR maven lived in Los Angeles. With more characters in AJLT, Samantha’s scenes wouldn’t have to be as regular and there would be less pressure on them. Plus, it could bring about a detente in the pop-culture Cold War of Parker vs. Cattrall

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Season Three also has to address the other elephant in the room: That some of the new characters still aren’t working. Carrie and Seema’s heart-to-heart in Episode Eight helped to transform the NYC realtor into a character that fans care about. Che Diaz has calmed down a lot since Season One and, as a result, they have become more interesting. (And dare I say it… kind of endearing?). If Carrie is the Main Character, it makes sense that the friends she has brought into the fold would be the first to achieve that status. But sadly, Nya and Lisa Todd Wexley are still waiting for their breakthrough moment. 

In a response to a post by journalist Louis Peitzman about the lack of scenes featuring Nya — he suggested the AJLT writers routinely forget that the law professor exists — Karen Pittman clarified that she was filming The Morning Show at the same time, so presumably had limited availability. But that doesn’t explain why LTW’s storylines were painfully lackluster, too. It takes more than a sad life event — like a divorce or miscarriage — to make the audience feel invested in a character. In fact, it’s almost harder to care about a character who is going through a tough time when you still don’t really know them. I also couldn’t help but think that, given the political climate, the show missed an opportunity to explore a character choosing to have an abortion. Season Three of AJLT needs to give Nya and LTW their “Seema moment,” otherwise the show should consider writing them out.

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AJLT seems to have settled into a rhythm where the first half of each season is an ordeal to be overcome, before gradually improving toward the end. Next season, it would be nice to see the show strike the right balance of new and nostalgia right from the start. I also wish it could stop being so fearful of its audience and realize that, if people are laughing and genuinely entertained, they can forgive the odd clunky comment or storyline. Give us brutal zingers and sweeping generalizations that might offend us but we can’t help but laugh at.

I’m holding out hope that Michael Patrick King and his team of writers can build on the progress of Season Two. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, AJLT is something I still need in my life. What other show could somehow link one character’s decision to become a Japanese monk with another’s attempt to lose his “ass virginity?” I’ll wait.  

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