And Just Like That: how beige Aidan became one of the most divisive TV characters of all time

·3-min read

Genuine question: in a city of 8.5 million people, why can’t Carrie Bradshaw find fresh meat?

“I realised some things are better left in the past. But maybe not everything...” Bradshaw says teasingly, in the final shots of the season two trailer of Sex And The City spin off, And Just Like That, before Aidan appears.

Not entirely shock factor, mind you. In Febuary, Sarah Jessica Parker who has played the New York City-based writer for over two decades posted a smooch shot from the set of the HBO Max show’s second coming (airing June) on Instagram, of her and co-star John Corbett who plays her ex-boyfriend Aidan, confirming that the pair are back on. Again.

Aside from the bafflement of her yo-yo-ing between former partners and former partners only, you just think: why, though? Aidan’s so… beige. Which is ironic given that his entire shtick is to be a paint-by-numbers ‘perfect man’ with ‘perfect man’ accoutrements:  the cute dog, the carpentry, the willingness to put up Carrie’s unbridled narcissism.

Do we really need to go through it all again?

Even Patricia Field, the show’s long-time stylist has reservations. “I know what you mean,” she said to a Guardian journalist who suggested Aidan looked ‘all wrong’. “Maybe it was the casting … but that’s not my department.”

From a production point of view it’s obvious why they’ve wheeled Aidan and his plaid shirts and leather cord gap year jewellery back in. He’s familiar and it’s easier than having to get fans invested in a complete stranger.

Carrie Bradshaw and Aidan Shaw in Sex and the City (HBO)
Carrie Bradshaw and Aidan Shaw in Sex and the City (HBO)

Judging by the comments under SJP’s original teaser post – captioned “THIS. IS. NOT. A. DRILL.” – the response was mixed.  For every Sophia Bush writing “MY HEART MY HEART MY HEART!!” there’s someone else coming back with “not this bozo again”.

Aidan has been the subject of fierce debate over the years with uncountable column inches dedicated to whether he’s right for Carrie, or how hot he is compared to Big, or how weak he is compared to Big, or how he’s not weak but emotionally intelligent and actually Big is the weak one. The Mr Big vs Mr Beige bout has gone on for decades — and counting.

It’s true that a lot of people feel Aidan was always the one, but it has always been slim pickings in Carrie’s dating pantry. She has the worst taste in men. There’s commitment averse Mr Big and his Bond villain cars and cigars lifestyle. Then there’s Petrovsky — haughty, robotic, even more selfish than Carrie and absolutely not worth moving to Paris to tread in dog poo for. Or Berger the giant baby with his pad of Post-Its.

Harry Goldenblatt and Smith are surely the only men in the show’s history worth a second date?

Carrie Bradshaw (AP)
Carrie Bradshaw (AP)

They are a terrible match and they have broken up twice already which should mean something and yet...

While some people think Aidan is a boring sap, others think he is too good for Carrie — relentlessly doormatting himself and forgiving her for having an affair with Big — but either way, they are a terrible match and they have broken up twice already which should mean something and yet...

Last we knew, in Season six of SATC Aidan was married and had a baby strapped to his chest. For the love of God let’s hope the writer’s room agreed that Carrie should not be allowed to bulldoze into Aidan’s tranquil family bubble in a ball gown and jaunty hat carrying a silly little handbag and great Big grief.

The reunion will surely be presented as a soulful coming back together from a place of emotional maturity having both been through heartbreak but again there’s a whiff of the poor substitute about all this: Aidan is only getting the call up because his main love rival is literally dead.

Is he going to take it like he always does? Let’s hope not.

The second series of And Just Like That… will be exclusively available from June on Sky Comedy and NOW