Just one episode before the finale of And Just Like That …, two of the show’s ostensible primary characters say hello to each other for the first time. Miranda has roped everyone into a house-painting charity project in deepest Greenpoint (Carrie imagines it is time zones away from Manhattan, as if Girls never existed) with professor turned friend Nya Wallace, while Charlotte arrives with her mom friend Lisa Todd Wexley. “I’m so moved by everything you’re doing,” LTW tells Nya, marking the first moment the two have had a conversation, nine episodes into this season.
What’s remarkable about this moment is that it goes along so smoothly and so immediately opens up And Just Like That …’s story lines. While they’re all working on painting the house, Nya’s husband, Andre, watches Lisa’s husband painting with their kids and starts to fantasize once again about having kids. Nya, meanwhile, has the opposite experience: After watching the eternally high-strung Charlotte melt down about having to teach her daughter how to use a tampon, she becomes more committed to the idea that she couldn’t handle kids. The characters return to their season-long debate about trying for kids again, but it feels refreshed because it’s based on them encountering new characters and experiences instead of just having Nya describe it all to Miranda.
Back when And Just Like That … premiered, Michael Patrick King made a lot of hay of the fact that the show was introducing new non-white characters to Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda’s now Samantha-less friend group. “Each of the episodes, at this point, they’re all around 43 minutes,” King said. “Because there’s seven fully realized people in it.” But what this week’s episode made clear was that, up until the new characters started meeting, they each orbited around one of the original stars. Lisa is mostly seen in Charlotte stories; Seema in Carrie ones; and Nya and Che in Miranda plots. Each of them has felt less fully realized and more like a satellite in the gravity of a Sex and the City star.
When these characters enter the orbit of someone they don’t see as often, they become more interesting. It’s funny when the show emphasizes that Che is both Carrie’s boss and Miranda’s love interest, mostly because it leads to scenes like Che fingering Miranda while Carrie pees in a jar. (Dark! Wild! I liked it!) When Seema shows up to a meal with the three original characters, you can almost feel the show heaving a sigh of relief as it all but hangs a “New Samantha” sign over Seema as she quips about sex.
However, even if they’re mingling with more of the original cast, these new characters have gotten barely any time to bounce off each other. That’s too bad because And Just Like That …, like Sex and the City before it, works best when the characters are getting into their conflicting opinions about sex, kids, money, or whatever else. You see Nya stiffen up at Lisa’s bougie mom vibe, and you can imagine they’d disagree about a lot of other things in ways that differ between how they might disagree with Miranda and Charlotte individually. If the show wants to move past the sense that it’s about three white women being shocked that people of color exist and can be their friends, the prominent people of color on the show should probably get to talk to each other more.
The most frustrating part about this positive development on And Just Like That … is it took so long for the show to get here. These characters should all have at least said hello to each other by episode two or three — four max. Sure, that might feel like a rushed dynamic, but television depends on chance encounters bringing disparate groups of people together, and I would like to see, for instance, Lisa and Seema hang out and talk about wherever they buy their designer clothes sooner rather than later.
Speaking of which, as soon as Seema gets to the house painting, she slips off to smoke a cigarette, so even if she’s in the same place as everyone else, she doesn’t really get to talk to everyone new. Che, meanwhile, isn’t there with the six other characters at all. They previously have performed at Charlotte and Lisa’s school fundraiser, but still, I’m getting concerned that Che might not actually exist and is actually just a shared delusion.