TW: sexual assault
Sex and the City is the epitome of a modern classic, at least for a TV show whose feminist, sex-positive, humorous nature makes it timeless and beloved. The show’s new reboot that airs each Thursday on HBO Max, And Just Like That…, proved to elicit an opposite reaction from the original show. It seems that “just like that,” the Sex and the City franchise went from relatable to cringey and controversial.
Sex and the City, which began its run in 1998, follows the life of Carrie Bradshaw, a journalist who writes a column called “Sex and the City,” and the lives of three of her friends: Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha. The show, by its namesake, delves into the women’s sex lives, romantic pursuits and friendships.
The reboot began airing in December and follows Carrie’s life after the death of her husband, John “Big” Preston, as well as Charlotte and Miranda. Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha in the rest of the franchise, chose not to return to the reboot because of feuds with the rest of the cast, particularly Sarah Jessica Parker who plays Carrie.
Already, before the reboot even aired, it was a topic of heated discussion as fans of the original show sided with Cattrall or Parker. This trend of controversy and heated discussion only continued as And Just Like That… took to the streaming platform.
Once aired, the show immediately received negative reviews. Many fans believe the reboot disgraces the original show because of poor acting, uncomfortable storylines, the forced “woke” atmosphere and traits and actions that don’t match the personalities of the original characters.
For example, Charlotte’s child, who is biologically female, confesses to Charlotte that they do not want to be called a girl anymore. Charlotte’s hesitant response was difficult and cringey to watch for many viewers, as it felt forced and inauthentic. However, many others praised the show’s effort to facilitate and demonstrate conversations about gender identity and the gender spectrum.
In another episode, Carrie attends her friend Seema’s family Diwali party, celebrating the Hindu festival. She asks if it is acceptable for her to wear a traditional outfit, which she calls a sari. Seema responds in a forced nature by essentially defining cultural appreciation. Later in the episode, Carrie wears an outfit called a lehenga, while she called the outfit a sari earlier in the episode. By mistaking the clothing, the show engages in the cultural appropriation it tried to avoid, rather than the cultural appreciation it claimed to demonstrate.
The show seems to be in a balancing act between bringing awareness to issues and trying too hard and inauthentically to please a liberal audience.
In addition to it’s cringey wokeness, the reboot found itself in a scandal in its early airing. The show’s first episode shows the death of Chris Noth’s character, Mr. Big, who is Carrie’s husband. Shortly after the first few episodes aired, allegations of sexual abuse against Noth surfaced from the Hollywood Reporter. As per usual with allegations of sexual assault, some fans defend Noth while others condemn him. Each of the stars of the show made statements in support of the alleged victims.
Controversy and forced acting and plots seems to be the essence of And Just Like That… The original Sex and the City was always controversial in its time with its open discussion of sex, but the new reboot seems to be controversial in a way that is more uncomfortable than discussion sparking and progressive.