*Warning: This article contains huge spoilers from the very first episode of And Just Like That.
And Just Like That… Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbs and Charlotte Yorke are back on television after two questionable movies and the dramatic real-life fall out between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall that appears to be behind the exit of Samantha Jones.
When the revival of Sex and The City was announced I, like the much of the fandom, was skeptical, to put it kindly.
My faith in Carrie and her clique was shattered. As a franchise, it thrived in the 90s and noughties and that’s exactly where it should stay.
And then came the confirmation Kim Cattrall was out. How could Sex and the City continue without its sex?
As it happens, more seamlessly than I imagined.
Rather than trying to recreate the magic of Sex and The City, the show that single-handedly changed the playing field for women and their relationship with sex, And Just Like That is very much its own less glamorous, more sombre entity.
The world has changed and with it, the Sex and The City ladies had to change too.
Carrie no longer has her New York Times column to justify spending her week nights in some fabulous cocktail bar (I have now reached my 30s and realised that is an impossible dream), Miranda has left corporate law to fight for human rights, while Charlotte is struggling to balance life as two very different teenage daughters.
Their chats over brunch are no longer horny or shocking, but meaningful and poignant. That is essentially the beating heart of And Just Like That, following three women striving to be the best they can be and adapting to the new world around them.
The elephant in the room is addressed within seconds: what happened to Samantha Jones?
‘It’s like she’s dead, you never even talk about her?’ says Miranda, turning to a stone cold Carrie.
In short, Carrie dropped Samantha as the publicist for her new book. Subsequently, Sam has abandoned the Big Apple for a new job in London and, in turn, left her entire life, including her friendships behind.
Trying to make sense of Sex and The City with Samantha felt as though it could be an impossible task but actually And Just Like That’s conundrum is solved pretty naturally. Life happens and as it turns out the friendships we thought would last forever have an expiry date.
However, at the end of episode one there’s a much bigger tragedy driving And Just Like That than the end of the fab four. Big dies.
It’s the rug pull which, while a punch in the gut, gives And Just Like That a purpose beyond resurrecting the career of its cast and making a lot of people a lot of money.
Whether of the popular opinion that Big is Carrie’s biggest mistake or not, his sudden death is a blow. While I have spent two decades complaining about Big as if he treated my own best friend as an afterthought, I wept as Carrie held her toxic husband, and looked into his eyes for the very last time.
While yet to see what future lies ahead for Carrie, the prospect of navigating her grief and perhaps even dating again in her 50s feels like a story worth exploring.
Elsewhere, sans Samantha is the arrival of more bold women to admire instead.
Righting the wrongs of the Sex and The City’s colour-blindness, Karen Pittman stars as Dr. Nya Wallace, a Black professor Miranda painfully befriends while awkwardly othering and exposing her white saviour complex, and Nicole Ari Parker plays Lisa Todd Wexley a socialite literally described by Antony as ‘the Black Charlotte’. Their additions admittedly often feel forced but well-intentioned and welcomed.
And Just Like That isn’t the randy comedy of Sex and The City and nor could or should it be. It’s moved on. But it is still very much achieves being the welcomed catch up with Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte fans will be rooting for and failed to get from two movies.
If anything, Sarah Jessica Parker fits into Carrie’s shoes with more familiarity. As one of the most contentious protagonists on television, Carrie has rattled many Sex and the City fans – in her 30s, she was a terrible friend. The moment she covers Charlotte’s engagement ring with a post-it note still gives me chills.
She’s returned, however, with more resilience and charm, flittering between grief and her quick one-liners like only Carrie can.
I’ll admit, And Just Like That’s triumph is unexpected. I firmly accepted my goodbye to Sex and The City 10 years ago, but in 2021 there is definitely space for a new, albeit different friend, in And Just Like That.
And Just Like That airs tonight at 9pm on Sky Comedy and is available to stream on NOW.