Warning: this review contains spoilers for Thursday And so … premiere.
Like a long time Sex and the city fan – I even watch the murdered reruns aired on E! – I was a bit skeptical when the resurgence of HBO Max And so … it was announced for the first time. The movies weren’t great, the women are now 50 and Kim Cattrall isn’t even involved. So it is a relief to inform you that And so … – the first two episodes are now airing; I’ve seen the first four, it does a decent job of bringing Sex and the city in the modern era, infusing him with new blood and finding new layers within his classic characters. There are some sticking points here and there that will annoy fans (like me), but the mere fact that this series is not Sex and the City 2– terrible level, even with its fractured quartet core, it’s a victory to celebrate.
And so … It begins in a post-pandemic New York, with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) definitely older, Miranda’s trademark red hair is now gray, but they are still close friends. However, the absence of Samantha Jones from Cattrall is glaring. (We are told that Samantha has moved to London and is no longer speaking to the other girls because of a perceived slight, which does not fit in with the fiercely loyal Samantha we know.) Samantha was a daring pioneer of sexual positivity who gave the original series a sassy twist, and that edge is sorely lacking here. The sex talk is minimal this time, with a tone closer to Sex and the citylater seasons: more relationship drama than raunchy sex comedy. (The episodes are now around 45 minutes long as well, instead of the original half hour, adding to the dramatic feel.)
They also introduce us to a host of new characters … some are a better fit than others. It is clear that showrunner Michael Patrick King, who directed Sex and the city Through its glory years, he wants to atone for the original show’s objectively dire record on diversity. (As it should!) But the sheer number of new faces threatens to overwhelm the main characters at first. We meet Lisa, Charlotte’s black mom (Nicole Ari Parker) and Miranda’s black law professor Nya (Karen Pittman) and Carrie’s queer podcast host Che (Sara Ramirez) is all in the premiere, and it’s a bit giddy. Sometimes it almost feels like a derivative or Sex and the City: the new class. The writing can still be clunky when it comes to race and sexuality, but to the writers’ credit, they show Carrie and company grappling with these issues, and often clumsy. It’s not always pretty, but it’s encouraging that they at least acknowledge how un-pretty it is.
And then there is Mr. Big. Carrie is still with her loving husband when the show begins, but their relationship takes a sharp turn in the premiere, sending shockwaves throughout the entire season. It’s a huge storytelling change, to be sure, but the sad reaction from the other characters sounds a bit hollow. It also tracks many of the same rhythms that Carrie went through in the first Sex and the city movie when Big left it at the altar. The twist adds to the somber tone of And so … with precious flashes of the wit and verve of the original. (Even the animated theme song is muted.)
Most of all, though, it’s nice to get back to spending time with Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda. The actresses return to their roles and their jokes are as funny and upbeat as ever. Although the introductions of the new characters border on the awkward, Ramírez and his new partner Sarita Choudhury, who plays Carrie’s real estate agent, Seema, bring a refreshing energy to the show. Additionally, Miranda’s story takes an intriguing twist in Episode 3 that offers true promise as a story and makes us rethink everything we thought we knew about her. No, this is not the classic Sex and the city first we fell in love … but what is now is not bad either.
THE BOTTOM LINE OF TELEVISION: The Sex and the city the ladies are back with And so …, a quieter but ultimately enjoyable remake of the original.