I had withheld much of my own thoughts about the first two episodes of And Just Like That because we were scheduled to discuss them on Extra Hot Great and I didn’t want to bastardize from that. Well, the episode is done and dusted and available wherever you get your podcasts, and amusingly we didn’t realize until we stopped recording that none of us brought up the one thing that’s really lit up the Internet: Carrie not calling 911. (We do, however, talk about the awful eulogy and soulless funeral home.) All of us confessed to yelling at our TV when Carrie just stood there, rooted to the spot, as Big moved weakly. Chris Noth came out and said that it was written as a beautiful moment where Carrie and Big exchange a glance and they know This Is It, so she runs over and he dies in her arms. But the way it was shot… it’s one of those moments where the people who make the TV forget that the people watching the TV are also, well, people. Carrie, not a doctor, stood there for an eternity locking eyes with Big, also not a doctor, and we’re supposed to think that meant that they both knew it was over for him? In that eternity, most of us watching would have grabbed the cell from our purses and punched 9-1-1 into it while running toward our beloveds, because you never know. They could still have had that poetic moment if Carrie frantically dialed while pulling him into her lap, and he used his last ounce of energy to stop her dialing (or just to croak her name and give a slight shake of the head, or whatever), and then she could drop her phone and cry into his mouth. But no. It’s just one more example of the show’s repeated tendency to get in its own way. There are easier, better solutions to most of its bigger problems. You’ll see that next week, too.
But for now: Episode Three.
The original show was, at its heart, about four best friends. One of those friends is gone now. A better sequel might have been what happens to your other friendships when one side of the square is gone. Do you just become a neat, clean triangle? Besides which, everyone has individual relationships even within your group, and so now each of these women would theoretically need to look elsewhere for what they used to get from Samantha. Do they look to each other, or outside? There’s a lot of rich friendship material to be mined here — these women’s great loves were always, in my mind, each other, and I’d love to have seen them grieve the loss of one of those friendships. Much more so than the loss of one of their men.
Carrie: She’s a grieving, meandering insomniac — at the end of the episode, she finally relents and goes to sleep at her original apartment, which she has apparently kept. This whole time. Those are some serious renter’s insurance bills. Anyway, Carrie finds out that Big left Natasha a million dollars in his will, and immediately spirals because she decides it means he wasn’t over Natasha, or that he was keeping a secret about Natasha — not gonna lie, when Natasha says later that she has kids I was hoping one of them would turn out to be Big’s and that he was supporting the child from afar — and so she spirals downward into the kind of unseemly stalking she did with Big in her thirties. Remember when she followed him to church and it ended in a forced introduction to his mother, or when she lied to Big’s ex-wife about a book idea so that she could spy on her? Yeah. That. Natasha tries very hard not to engage with Carrie, either by phone or social media, or when Carrie shows up unannounced to Natasha’s place of business. (That does yield a pretty shot, though, of tiny Carrie in a bright pink dress sitting in this giant antiseptic lobby that’s all white with a grey couch.) Basically, this mid-fifties widow decides it’s cute to disregard any boundaries Natasha is choosing to set, and naturally eventually accidentally walks in on Natasha in a coffee shop bathroom. Finally, they sit and talk, and both performances are good — Bridget Moynahan hits all the right notes of carrying years of unexpressed anger, loathing, exasperation, and also pity — and we learn that Natasha has no idea why Big gave her the money and Carrie can exhale. And I guess go sleep at an apartment she’s been keeping ready for exactly this moment.
- Seriously, Carrie is being super irrational about Natasha being in the will. “Why was he still thinking about her after ALL this time?” she wonders. Okay, but unless I missed it, the will didn’t say, “Edited two months ago to add Natasha.” For all Carrie knows, Big put Natasha in the will like ten years ago. Or the day they divorced and he felt guilty. So Big decided at some point to leave his ex-wife a million bucks he could clearly afford. What’s the big deal? Pun intended. Chill OUT, Carrie. (I know her grief is driving a lot of this, but honestly… the behavior feels true to her in a way that can’t entirely be blamed on grief.)
- It IS a total arrogant Big move to leave Natasha a million bucks — nice on the surface, but really, an attempt to buy out his own guilt once and for all even from beyond the grave. Also, if he added it after he was married to Carrie — which, again, we don’t even know, do we? — then he really should have told her.
- Of COURSE Carrie fell prey to the trend where people’s reading glasses are large and weird-shaped and unflattering.
- “I just found her on Instagram,” Carrie says of Natasha. I call bullshit. Carrie Bradshaw would have stalked Natasha on Instagram the day it was invented, and made a Finsta so she could follow her.
- Carrie snoops through Big’s stuff after the will reading — his pockets, his drawers, and a failed attempt to crack his computer password. WHAT TOOK HER SO LONG. I feel like Night 1 of the insomnia I’d have been all up in those spaces rooting around, and I don’t mind admitting it.
- She finds a number that turns out to be… the number to the phone on Big’s side of the bed. HOW did Carrie NEVER NOTICE THIS BEFORE? Like, did that phone never ring? Or did she never notice that when OTHER phones rang, that one didn’t?
- Carrie, married to John James Preston, is referred to once here as Carrie Preston. Too bad for her that she’s merely the second most important pop-culture Carrie Preston. And it’s a long gap between second and first.
- I wrote, “Carrie wore these outfits ON PURPOSE.” I wish I could remember what outfit that was about. Oh! It was about the one where I said she looked like she had moved upstate to start her own jam business.
Miranda: While she goes to order coffee for herself and Charlotte, or somesuch, Miranda tells Charlotte that Charlotte can root around her purse for a charger. No surprise, Charlotte finds several empty travel-size bottles of vodka. (It’s weird to me that Miranda would let a friend have free access to her purse if she had all those bottles rattling around in there, but maybe that’s a sign that Miranda is in deep denial and isn’t giving her consumption a second thought.) Carrie has no interest in anyone else’s problems right now, so she waves this off.
- The ladies help Carrie spy on Natasha, and when they see her, Charlotte spits with supportive disapproval, “She’s wearing flats.” Miranda sighs, “That is the most desperate putdown I’ve ever heard.” It made me laugh. FINALLY something did.
Charlotte: Her youngest daughter doesn’t feel like a girl, and Charlotte is trying to deal with it sensitively and supportively, so she asks Anthony for advice. And he handwaves it: “Ignore it. When she was six, she told you she was a dog. Is she a dog now?” And, “When I was little I wanted to be Tinkerbell. Did my mother cut holes in my blazer to fit my wings?” Charlotte is like, “Maybe she should have?” Anthony says she doesn’t need to be so permissive and that they’ll figure it out later when she’s older and yada yada yada this seems hideously dismissive and I think Samantha would have given better advice about this. CALL SAMANTHA.
Stanford: Speaking of Samantha, Stanford has somewhat slid into the fourth chair here, and Charlotte seems prickly about it. Stanford lightly accuses her of never thinking he’s actually part of the inner circle and of being threatened by his relationship with Carrie. This IS the kind of thing that might happen when, say, a Samantha disappears, and another friend slides into that spot. Obviously we know, for sad reasons, that won’t last with Stanford.
Brady: Miranda’s 17-year old kid is still having sex loudly in their apartment and I do not believe for a second Miranda and Steve would be this permissive with them. Also, for as defensive as SJP and Kristen Davis were about the women being allowed to age and how life doesn’t stop when you’re 50, this show is totally sexless when it comes to them. I do not WANT to watch Brady getting ridden by his girlfriend (technically that was in episode 2, but his girlfriend basically lives there now). Where’s the sex among our city women?
Ché: My notes open with, “This podcast is excruciating.” And it is. I don’t really like comedian characters when we’re being forcefed their comedy and reminded with constant cutaways that it’s funny (the laughing podcast producer! The laughing audience! So much laughing!). Sara Ramirez is very charismatic, though, and by the end of this episode, they may or may not have awakened Miranda’s latent curiosity. The three ladies attend a taping of Ché’s Netflix special, and in discussing sexuality and gender and the like, there’s a lot of encouraging the audience to embrace change in general — a sermon that brings an enthralled Miranda to paroxysms of appreciation. She goes to the afterparty alone, fangirls all over Ché, and then lets Ché get right up to her mouth and blow pot smoke into it. These two have great chemistry (I think Sara Ramirez would have chemistry with a tree; they even managed to make it work with George O’Malley, for goodness’s sake). I just wish it didn’t have to come at the expense of Steve. Everything comes at the expense of Steve.
Hero of the Week: Poor Steve, given nothing to do but be partially deaf and fully doddering, flips through Netflix and grumbles that it’s all crap. Crap, crap, crap. I feel you, Steve. We’ve all been there.
- The hero of the premiere, by the way, was the little boy who was forced to play the piano at a concert in a fancy music school venue — a song he didn’t know, on an instrument he hates, in front of strangers, many of whom acted like they’d never been aware that sometimes kids’ performances go awry. I wanted to rescue him. Everyone there was terrible.
- The hero of the second episode was Susan Sharon. Bar none.