And just NOT like that…

The "Sex and the City" gals are back – sans Samantha – in "And Just Like That...". Photo: And Just Like That/Facebook.

Sunny Grace has something to say about And Just Like That… – the 10-episode revival of Sex and the City.

I was an avid watcher of Sex and the City in my thirties. Even though or because their lives felt so far away from mine, I never missed an episode. I had my first son when I was 28. Early for my generation, who were the women born from second-wave feminism and told they could have it all. Most of my friends had children later in life after careers or not at all. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are from this same generation of women.

While I was juggling small kids and a career, most of my friends were aspiring to a similar life to these characters, with some of them living in New York. I took a break from motherhood in my mid-thirties and went to visit those friends. It was like being in an episode. Lunches and dinners, shoe shopping and Barneys sales. While it was fun for ten days, I was happy to return to my family. It all seemed a little unfulfilling, all those shoes and handbags. But I still watched the show, the movies and now the SATC spin-off series And Just Like That.

It’s a bit like reality TV. You can’t help but become addicted. I confess I watched SATC for the escapism, my sliding door moment because Carrie was a writer (my long-lost dream that I am finally fulfilling now) and for Samantha. I watched it with my eight-year-old son who was a big fan of Samantha. He is now 22 and heterosexual but like many of his generation, he isn’t conforming to the gender norms we were railing against. He likes fashion, he gets his nails done and he isn’t afraid to mix it up. I think Samantha would like him.

Many Sex and the City fans have missed Kim Cattrall’s character Samantha Jones in the reboot. Video: HBO Max/Youtube.

How much do I miss her in AJLT? I mean she was doing back then what they should be doing now. Her menopause episodes were much more authentic than anything in AJLT. Like Samantha couldn’t tell if her hot flashes were from chemo or menopause, I can’t tell if my hot flashes are from menopause or Graves’ disease.

In AJLT, menopause is mentioned over lunch when Charlotte brags that she hasn’t had any symptoms followed by her getting a random period while wearing white overalls. It feels so unreal, like a teenage problem, not an older woman problem. In fact, Charlotte seems to regress in this series back to her teenage self, from the period to the bat mitzvah to giving blow jobs to Harry. This bothered me too, why the other women were so shocked she still “blows Harry”? I mean, come on. These women were the first women to really talk about sex on mainstream TV. 

In fact, I found most of the storylines quite boring. Carrie is smoking and looking at her dresses and kind of mooching around. Even meeting a younger version of herself seemed dull.

AJLT falls short on any of the real issues facing women as they age. There’s more to ageing than whether to let your hair go grey or not or get Botox. I just turned 50, my periods are all over the place. Vaginal dryness/atrophy is real. I am struggling to make space in my life for me again after all those years of childrearing and career building.

Sex and the City ran for six seasons from 1998 to 2004, along with two blockbuster movies in 2008 and 2010. Photo: And Just Like That/Facebook.

The only character I find myself relating to this season is Miranda. From going back to study as a mature age student, something I also did in my forties with a cohort much younger than me, to realising her marriage with Steve is stale and uninspiring and she needs more out of life. 

Cynthia Nixon is directing some of the episodes. Perhaps this adds to the energy coming from Miranda as opposed to the other two. Although it did neatly avoid the issue of Gen X women drinking a lot as they age. While Miranda does seem to have alcoholic tendencies and Carrie and Charlotte stage a kind of intervention, there is no struggle for Miranda to quit. She just stops drinking. I know lots of women, myself included, who struggle with drinking too much at times. And find it hard to stop.

I know SATC was never set in the real world of struggling women  – it was white middle to upper-class women living a life of privilege – but they did talk about real issues, such as struggling to have children, choosing between marriage and career. Where are the real issues we face now? Women over 50 are the biggest growing homeless demographic. Heart disease is increasing in women. In fact, it may have been more interesting if Carrie had a heart attack. Although I bet the creators are glad they killed ‘Big’, with the Chris Noth sexual assault allegations emerging.

While the original show was based on Candance Bushnell’s 1997 book of the same name and closely followed its storylines, the reboot is meant to show the hardships women face in their 50s. Photo: Martamenchini/Wikimedia Commons, published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0.

By the way, my son tried to watch AJLT with me. He tapped out halfway through the first episode and has shown no desire to watch it again. As for me, I kept watching to the bitter end, if only for escapism from my real life, which is just not like that. Still, the last episode left me feeling a bit meh. I don’t really care if Carrie hooks up with that guy. I hope Miranda and Che find happiness in LA. I hope Harry is giving Charlotte good oral sex in return. And yes, I will watch if there is a Season Two.

Now, pass me the oestrogen gel and portable fan. I can feel a hot flash coming on.

Sunny Grace is a Sydney writer, producer and director. Her website is located at sunnygrace.com.au.

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