And Just Like That

Sky Comedy/NOW


TWO Carries made the news yesterday.

One gave birth to a baby girl (congratulations Mr and Mrs Johnson of Downing Street).

The other, after a 17 year gap, ushered in And Just Like That, a sister to Sex and the City, for many still the mother and father of all women-centred sitcoms.

As I watched the return of the ladies who bestrode Manhattan for six series and two films, I couldn’t help but wonder, in the manner of columnist Carrie Bradshaw at her laptop, is it always wise to stage a comeback?

Two episodes in, I’m still wondering. For all that a new series has been talked about for years, And Just Like That has the feel of something that was put together hastily. It doesn’t know quite what it wants to be, but it certainly wants to get its retaliation in first when it comes to growing older.

Every character had to make some reference to ageing, be it their grey hair, fading eyesight or iffy hearing, lest there was any doubt in viewers’ minds that time had passed (we know). Covid had several mentions. Such was the desperate need to show the characters were up with the times I half expected them to pose, hostage-style, with a copy of that day’s paper.

The missing Samantha in the room was addressed early doors. “She’s no longer with us,” sighed Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), leaving someone else to make clear that Samantha (as played by Kim Cattrall) was in London rather than dead. It was nicely done. If only it had been left at that.

Instead, there was a creaky scene with Carrie and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) picking through the break-up, how Samantha had gone off in a huff after Carrie dropped her as a publicist, bla-di-blah.

“I thought I was more to her than an ATM,” said Carrie, sounding like Sarah Jessica Parker continuing her real-life feud with Cattrall by other means.

In truth, Samantha’s warmth and sassiness were missed. If only it had been her confronting the humourless woke students rather than an apologetic Miranda.

Elsewhere, Carrie was having trouble keeping up with the sexually explicit talk of her fellow podcasters, which led to another toe-curler of a scene, this one with Big (Chris Noth). Sex and the City was never this much hard work.

There were some sharp, funny lines; it was great to see everyone (or almost everyone) again; New York looked dreamy and the frocks were gorgeous.

But I spent most of the first episode waiting for the fun to start. Instead, the bomb dropped. I won't reveal more, but let’s just say someone got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on that contract.

What was missing, besides Samantha, was a sense of joy. The shock twist certainly won’t help with that. Who thought it was a good idea to hire Debbie Downer as a writer?

Sex and the City could do serious – divorce, cancer, infertility– but it could do silly as well.

Maybe the gals will come out the other end just fine and show us how fab your fifties can be.

We can only hope that, just like that, the show finds its happy place again, because Carrie and company are right about one thing: times have changed, and we need laughs now more than ever.