winners and losers

So Who Won and Who Lost And Just Like That …?

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Whatever else you want to say about And Just Like That… — and, we know, there are a lot of things to say — HBO Max’s revival of Sex and the City made an impression. Several impressions. Honestly, every episode is such a smorgasbord of baffling, otherworldly, and occasionally upsetting events that it’s far too easy to forget some of the highlights of this bizarro journey we’ve all been on together. Remember how Carrie bought an apartment completely on a whim? Or the plastic-surgery scene! Or, oh God, Miranda’s first day of class?

Now that the season is complete, it’s a good time to sit back and try to assess the winners and losers of this fully bananas season of television.

Winners: Seema Patel and Carrie Bradshaw 
Amid the great cosmic reshuffling of TV cancellation, cultural cancellation, death, TV revival, and realizing your TV revival needs to have some non-white characters in it, Carrie and Seema are the two who end up at the top of fortune’s great, ever-spinning wheel. Carrie’s husband dies, but she still exudes main-character energy (complete with a best-selling grief memoir). Her only competition is Seema, who appears in about 15 percent of this show but whose influence and vivre overwhelm nearly everyone else.

Losers: Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, Nya Wallace, and Lisa Todd Wexley
Charlotte gets a flash period while wearing a white jumpsuit. Lisa Todd Wexley has astounding clothing and a devoted husband but never develops beyond an entertaining side character. Nya Wallace does actually get her own story line, and all of it makes you feel terrible for her. And then, at the bottom, there is Miranda. She has zero consistency with her character from the original show, she is a nightmare to her friends and family, she cannot muster an ounce of patience for her partially deaf partner, and, AND, her hair looked great when it was gray and now she’s coloring it again?! By the end of the finale, it’s as though her whole body has been dipped in cheap caramel.

Mega-Winner: Samantha Jones
You know you’ve won when you’re not even on this damn show yet the psychic pain of your absence is so intense that even an empty, tone-free, two-word text from you constitutes a touching season finale.

Loser, then Winner: Steve Brady
And Just Like That … spends so much time trying to convince us that Steve is a nightmare as a partner. Miranda cannot stand to be around him, and having sex with him is about as appealing as tripping over a bucket. But if you step back and examine the evidence? This man is loyal. He loves ice cream and watching TV. He is sweet, he’s supportive, he’s helpful around the house, and he is still hot. History will look back kindly on Steve.

Loser: The show without Stanford
Willie Garson died of pancreatic cancer as And Just Like That … was being made, so his presence as Carrie’s enthusiastic gay friend was sorely missed once he was written off the series. The show chose to have him disappear with an influencer he’s working with midway through the season, which felt like an abrupt end to his and Carrie’s long friendship. His loss was mourned both as a part of the ensemble and as a character who, it seemed, was at last getting more fully fleshed out.

Winner: Smoking
Smoking — tobacco or pot — is for confident, self-possessed people like Seema and Che. Even people who quit smoking mostly spend their time wishing they were still smoking.

Loser: Drinking
Drinking too much is bad! You could end up an alcoholic like Miranda, or you could end up barfing on your sad widower date.

Winner: Unrealistic expectations of alcoholism as an addiction
Great news! You can quit drinking by ordering yourself a book on Amazon and just throwing away all your booze. It’s so weird how people other than Miranda haven’t figured this out!

Winner: Che Diaz
Che gets everything they want. Che only succeeds. Che begins the season as a successful, beloved comedian written up on this very website, and they end the season by flying out to California to shoot a pilot based on their life, accompanied by their new ultra-enthusiastic, undefined relationship participant, Miranda.

Loser: Comedy
See: Che Diaz.

Winner: Barneys
“My editor is forcing me to ask you about the role of Barneys on the show,” reads Kate Aurthur’s interview with And Just Like That … showrunner Michael Patrick King. “It’s just one of those great things,” King replies.

Loser: Peloton
It just can’t catch a break!

Winner: A shifting, relatively nuanced understanding of gender 
Did the show struggle with it? Yes. Did things always go smoothly? Of course not. But And Just Like That …, to its credit, does make space for people who don’t fit into heteronormative gender binaries, and it does treat the story of Charlotte’s genderqueer kid with love and respect. There’s something to be said for forcing these judgmental women to face their own closed-mindedness.

Winner: A surprisingly effective depiction of white awkwardness around discussions of race
Every single part of Miranda’s first several encounters with Nya Wallace is excruciating. The entire story of Charlotte awkwardly trying to win over Lisa Todd Wexley makes you want to cram Q-tips into your ears. But just as there’s some value in making the original characters recognize their blind spots about gender, there’s something almost brave about how fully this show commits to humiliating them while they cope with their own awkwardness about race. It was miserable, and Miranda especially feels terrible and says awful things, yet … she apologizes? And tries to get better? And no one dies or becomes an anti-cancel-culture free-speech advocate? It’s inspiring!

Winner: Whoever had the idea to kill off Mr. Big, thereby dodging most of the fallout of the nightmarish allegations against Chris Noth
Obviously, the initial response to the big piece about Chris Noth should be “This is sickening, and I hope those victims have supportive friends and families and therapists.” But you just know that, somewhere deep inside an HBO office, there was someone saying, “Thank God, we went in this direction.”

Loser: Getting fingered
In the best-case scenario, you get fingered by Che Diaz and moan like the universe has opened up inside of you while your best friend pees in the other room because she’s recovering from hip surgery. In the worst-case scenario, your husband of many years has somehow … forgotten how to finger you? Either way, this is now the least-appealing sex act. Contra Selena Gomez, keep your hands to yourself.

Winner: Plastic Surgeons
The expectation that you could walk into a random surgeon’s office in New York City and be confronted with the poreless visage of Jonathan Groff, who somehow agreed to appear on this series for five minutes even though he is very busy? Thrilling! Terrifying! Maybe enough to convince us all that we need work done.

Loser: Newly built luxury New York apartments
The empty, ultramodern place Seema convinces Carrie to buy that’s haunted by a vague beeping noise will linger in our memories forever. Never agree to buy a newly built apartment! Seema is a lovely character, but this may make her a terrible friend to Carrie.

Winner: Pockets
Specifically, the pockets on the safari-style Moschino jacket Lisa Todd Wexley wears to a house-painting event and fills with every possible makeup implement you can imagine. Does LTW get much of a character arc? Not really. Does she have pockets? Hell, yeah.

Loser: Podcasting
I’m not sure podcasting will ever recover from the implication that a podcast called X, Y, and Me, in which three people just … tell terrible dating stories and hit a “woke alert” button, would be immensely popular. You just can’t be a cool new industry after you’re depicted like that. We would listen to Carrie’s season-finale podcast Sex and the City, though. Because, ironically, much of what this season missed was the way Carrie’s relentless, pun-filled segues glued the original series together.

Winner: The subway
Nobody took the New York City subway in the original (Carrie was even afraid of going under the water into Brooklyn), and now they do! Unfortunately, the subway is also home to people dressed as Chucky who might attack you at any moment, but that’s just the New York je ne sais quoi we know and love.

Loser: Time, as a concept
Miranda starts a semester. Carrie writes a book during a montage, which appears to take place over several seasons’ worth of weather. Big is alive at the beginning of the show, and then he dies, and then in the finale Carrie scatters his ashes one year after his death. Yet somehow Miranda is still in that same class? Or a different class with the exact same professor? Or she’s gotten an internship? Somehow? In the background? How long does any of this take? What YEAR is it?! Where are we??

Winner: We, the viewers? 
This show is clearly a mess. Yet the experience of watching a new episode every week has been like casting about in the dark and then seeing it there in the distance, a reliably unhinged, guaranteed-to-be-distracting guidepost waiting to make us lose our minds each Thursday. Maybe we … won. Huh.

Loser: We, 
We’re so, so flattered you keep mentioning us, And Just Like That … Che’s fans mention reading us, and Carrie gives a shout-out to our jewelry-designer coverage (do we have jewelry-designer coverage?) while wandering around in her Grey Gardens smoking costume. But we’re not exactly sure what our popularity within the world of this show says about us as a publication. We all saw how things went for Peloton, and all we’re saying is the track record is iffy. At best. Might we interest you in a subscription to Vanity Fair?

Who Won and Lost And Just Like That …?