All hail our queen, Kim Cattrall, rumored to have milked an eye-watering one million dollars out of fewer than two minutes of screentime.
Cattrall’s much-touted appearance in And Just Like That’s second season finale was doomed from the start, an obvious (and commendable!) cash-grab from an actor who understands her worth and knows precisely how to play her leverage. That Cattrall allegedly refused to have contact with her former Sex and the City castmates during filming — reportedly because she was denied equal pay to star in the sequel series — merely foretold that any cameo of her playing her iconic SATC ballbuster would be dead-on-arrival. No chemistry, no staying power. Indeed the TV equivalent of Harry Goldenblatt’s dry orgasm, the return of Samantha Jones turned out to be a whole lot of media-hyped foreplay followed up by a blink-and-you-miss-it flash of empty joy. And trust me, a lot of us were fast asleep by the start of the next scene.
Samantha’s fleeting phone call with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), which involved her simply telling her old friend she wouldn’t be able to attend her era-ending celebratory dinner party, was emblematic of a season brimming with character interactions intended to be meaningful, yet still ended up lulling us into a stupor. (Samantha, you missed nothing from this boring-ass dinner party, I assure you.)
And Just Like That’s first season began and ended with some genuinely shocking turns — Mr. Big’s death from a heart attack, Miranda’s latent queerness and extramarital affair with a jackass comedian, Carrie’s friendship-cracking disapproval of Miranda’s sudden life choices. In contrast, I can barely remember anything that happened in Season 2. Across its eleven episodes, the second season told its audience over and over again that it’s never too late to start over. What it showed us, however, is that we should be careful what we wish for. For a show purportedly about fulfilling bourgeois fantasies, it sure can be soul-deadeningly bleak!
On the surface, And Just Like That wants us to believe that 55 is the new 35. Look, Carrie finds love again after widowhood! Wow, Charlotte just picks up her gallerina career after 20 years like nothing ever happened! Huh, Miranda can fail her way up to a senior role at a prestigious lobby firm despite extinguishing her successful law career at the heels of a pandemic recession!
Yet, each of the show’s (way, way too) many characters can’t help facing disappointment at almost every new juncture. All Carrie ever wanted was stability, but even after inheriting Big’s gobs of finance bro cash, she still can’t get her rewind love, Aidan (John Corbett), to commit to spending 50% of his time with her when he’s still raising three sons in Virginia. All Charlotte (Kristin Davis) craved in life was to be a wife and mother, but when she was battling infertility in the early-2000s, I’m sure she only ever imagined cute little girls in cute little dresses, not bratty teenagers complaining about being rich. Miranda may be rocking it as a professional do-gooder, but she’s still sleeping on a friend’s couch, barely engaging with her important exes and incapable of inspiring her nothing-behind-the-eyes teenage son to do anything with his life. The grass is always parched on the other side, it seems.
One reason And Just Like That failed to ignite in its second season is because it was frankly watered down by so many storylines that hardly any character thread felt completely developed. Carrie’s renewed relationship with ex-fiancé Aidan moved so swiftly and glossed over so many chunks of action that we were never even privy to what should have been an absolutely pivotal excursion to Virginia to meet Aidan’s kids and ex-wife. I was so confused when I watched Carrie walk through her apartment door following this unseen excursion that I thought I had literally missed an entire episode. We had previously spent nearly 40 minutes watching Carrie ballyhoo about what Aidan’s dreamy pastoral farmhouse must be like… and never actually got to spend time there at all.
Viewers were presumably supposed to feel sadness when Aidan cried to Carrie in the finale about how he needs to stay in Virginia until his troubled 15-year-old son reaches adulthood. Nevertheless, how could that scene and those emotions maintain any momentum when we have no idea how Carrie and Aidan fared in his home territory? How were we supposed to feel any organic empathy for Aidan’s young son when we have no sense of the boy’s characterization or why he took psychedelic mushrooms, got drunk and crashed his dad’s truck, forcing Aidan to reevaluate his snowbird lifestyle just as he and Carrie were about to move in together? We were only provided Aidan’s loose suspicions about his son’s motivations, and no substance to this predicament outside a short scene of dialogue between him and Carrie. Where’s the beef?!
Instead of mining this rich material (what could have more baked-in pathos than Carrie-freaking-Bradshaw navigating potential step-motherhood?), And Just Like That lackadaisically dipped in and out of the lives of a ballooning clutter of characters. Beyond the never-ending woes of Charlotte and Miranda, we got Anthony (Mario Cantone) falling into a not-even-remotely-believable relationship with an Italian pretty boy; Lisa (Nicole Ari Parker) somehow finding herself pregnant in her 50s; Nya (Karen Pittman) dealing with the fallout of a divorce that apparently happened when I wasn’t looking; Che (Sara Ramirez) seeking redemption after their TV pilot imploded; and Seema (Sarita Choudhury) battling her commitment-phobia by getting together with a Marvel director. (And I’m not even counting the side characters here, like the show’s slurry of love interests and young spawn.)
Save Che, who’s at least a concrete antihero, I wish I could say I care about any of these characters. But our time with them was so marginal each episode that And Just Like That never offered me a legitimate reason to care this season. The writing and editing were so oddly paced and proportioned that it felt like we were getting the CliffsNotes versions of these people’s lives, especially through the relentless use of parallel montage. Sometimes more is less.
Despite these grievances, And Just Like That is not an active hatewatch — this is no Emily in Paris. Rather, it’s just a purely pleasant, moderately stultifying, sometimes deranged comfort-watch. Yeah, the show can be a real pain. I can’t wait for more episodes.
#Finale #Concludes #Sophomore #Slump #Hollywood #Reporter