Voices: While Sex and the City celebrated women’s voices, And Just Like That seeks to silence them

·4-min read
Voices: While Sex and the City celebrated women’s voices, And Just Like That seeks to silence them

If Carrie Bradshaw were instructed to write a review of the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That, I imagine she’d sit down at her desk, inhale one puff of her cigarette and begin her article by pondering: can a TV show centred around female agency ever work in this climate? Well, maybe not 2021 Carrie, who’s more concerned with building up her Instagram following. But make no mistake, the current climate I’m referring to is one that silences outspoken women who dare to question things.

The creators seem embarrassed by the well established female trio and its winning formula. Writer and showrunner Michael Patrick King may as well have renamed the series, Three Karens on a Personal Journey. At times it feels like the show is cleverly seeking to discuss something important: female middle-aged alienation. As 50-something-year-olds, they’ve never looked so anxious, unsure and out of place. But as the episodes progress, it appears to be a lesson (or lecture) in atonement for characters and audience alike.

Placing it in the genre of comedy is an overreach. The latest addition to the crew non-binary Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) mentions quite often that they are a comedian to remind the viewers, or maybe themself, (that much is unclear).

Mr Big (Chris Noth) has been killed off, but at least he’s been safely laid to rest and spared the excruciating plotline the rest are being forced to endure (of course, his character could always be sentenced to shame beyond the grave as the series continues). Meanwhile, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) must recompense for the earlier show’s shortcomings.

Granted, Miranda is given a little more work to do than the others. She must make amends for the show’s lack of racial diversity and penchant for habitual cocktail drinking by becoming alcohol dependent and a blundering fool when around anyone who isn’t white. As Karen-in-chief, she has been transformed into an uptight wreck who has difficulty with pronouns and interacting with anyone unlike herself.

Carrie must cast aside her sexual boundaries and commit to “finding her pussy”, whilst Charlotte’s acceptance levels are put under the microscope when her daughter Rose comes out as gender-non-conforming. Of course, some of these are admirable topics to discuss, but inclusivity needn’t go hand-in-hand with character assassination.

Interestingly, the show fails to mention the elephant in the room: namely, the #MeToo movement. Here are three women who have gone through much of their lives having casual sex with strangers but appear to have swerved any form of sexual violence or coercion along the way. For a show about and made for women you’d think it might be an important talking point. This is made all the more pertinent as cast member Chris Noth is currently facing historical sexual assault allegations by a growing number of women.

The show’s most shocking and uncomfortable moment is during a podcast recording when Che is cast as the producer and Carrie’s boss. The male guest asks: “Why don’t you see women jerking it on the subway?” This makes Carrie awkwardly giggle, but a reasonable woman might simply answer: “Because it’s illegal.” The line of interrogation continues with: “Have you ever masturbated in a public place?” To which she replies, “No”. Afterwards, she’s given a tactful threat that if she fails to “step out of her box,” trolls will name her “the uptight cisgender female married lady”.

Perhaps the writers were attempting to address how sex is losing its intimacy and is becoming progressively performative, but it could also be another stick to punish middle-aged women for having the audacity to set boundaries.

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Kim Cattrall was right to stay well away from this reboot. At least Samantha’s pride has been left intact. I hope whatever she’s doing, she’s having a ball living fabulously and purposefully. Like she once famously said: “I love you, but I love me more.” A woman who displays this sort of temerity would never fit in with this modern reimagining of Sex and the City.

Let this be a lesson to the writers of Frasier: stick to what you’re good at. Life is too dull already without Niles meticulously unravelling his identity before our very eyes. Yes, we want to see diversity and representation, but we don’t need a sombre weekly lecture courtesy of Sky Comedy/HBO Max.

I’m not sure who And Just Like That is made for, but it certainly isn’t its fans. Of course, I will continue to tune weekly, but out of duty and habit instead of excitement. It would seem that women’s voices are no longer an important addition to culture. In fact, we’re a nuisance. And it’s a wonder the creators didn’t give them all a strenuous exercise regime on the Peloton machine and have done with it. Let’s hope it gets better – I won’t hold my breath.

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