Once the first episode of the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That... : A New Chapter of Sex and the City, premieres Thursday night on Hot 3 at 10:30 p.m. in Israel (close to the time it will debut in the US and around the world), all anyone will be talking about is the shocking plot twist at the end. No spoilers here, but I hope it doesn’t overshadow all that came before in the first part of the 10-episode series, a welcome return of three of the four heroines – Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristen Davis) – all of whom are unabashedly playing and discussing their real ages.
While when the reboot of the original, which ran from 1998-2004, was announced, I couldn’t help but wonder – to borrow a phrase Carrie frequently used in her newspaper column – whether it would be a sad retread of tropes from SATC, as were the two movies, a decent but uninspiring one in 2008 and an abysmal 2010 sequel that played like a commercial for the Abu Dhabi tourism board.
But the good news for the many fans who were looking forward to the series is that, based on the premiere episode, it is returning to its main strength – the story of contemporary women being true to themselves, which became a touchstone for females of different generations.
In fact, the series was such an event that Hot, along with the fashion brand, Factory 54, screened the episode at the Beit Lessin Theater in Tel Aviv, complete with a 10 a.m. cocktail party featuring cosmopolitans – Carrie’s favorite, drink you’ll recall – and servers proffering mini donuts and bagels, a nod to New York, the city in the series title. The event was attended by a bevy of Tel Aviv celebrities, including talk-show host Ofira Asayag and many others, and there was much Instagramming of hors d’oeuvres by the mostly 20-something crowd, many of whom wore stilettos (some with socks on, due to the stormy weather), in homage to Carrie’s beloved Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks, which 55-year-old Carrie still favors.
The show referenced the pandemic, which in the SATC universe had recently abated, as the three ladies lunched in the opening scene, mentioning early on that Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall, moved to London after Carrie dropped her as her publicist.
The show picks up just about a decade after the second movie, with Carrie and Big (Chris Noth) living in cozy domesticity; Charlotte and Harry (Evan Handler, who plays the lawyer husband for whom WASP princess Charlotte converted to Judaism) engaged with raising their two teen daughters; and Miranda still with Steve (David Eigenberg) and involved in switching her focus from corporate law to human-rights advocacy.
The last storyline is part of the show’s valiant attempt to keep up with the times. In a funny sequence that goes on for too long, Miranda embarrasses herself in front of her young, African-American professor as she returns to school to get a master’s degree, by not seeming woke enough.
Carrie is also trying to join the Instagram era and appears on a podcast representing “cisgender women.” The podcast is hosted by Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez), one of the ethnically diverse characters introduced in the pilot, who attempts to embody every gender and sexual orientation, and presses a button for a sound cue saying, “Woke moment!” from time to time. Her character is a bit of a cliché but one that works in context. When a male guest asked a mortified Carrie if she has ever masturbated in public, she replies, “Not since Barney’s closed,” proving that the show’s writers still have some zingers up their sleeves.
Much of the episode revolves around a piano recital by Charlotte’s oldest daughter, Lily (Cathy Ang), which brings the fashion-forward sensibility – one of the main reasons many loved the show – front and center. Charlotte and her girls wear matching mother-daughter floral dresses by Oscar de la Renta that, for fashionistas, will rival anything else in the episode. In another scene, Carrie dons a gown by Sharon Tal from the Israeli fashion house, Maskit.
It’s hard to say based on one episode where the series is heading, and the closing seconds will send the show down a different path from what many fans might have hoped. But as the ladies dressed in their fabulous outfits bantered and discussed getting older the way many women friends do, it provided some of what the original always gave viewers: fun.
It brought to mind one of Carrie’s best – if not her most famous – catchphrases: “Maybe the best any of us can do is not to quit, play the hand we’ve been given and accessorize the outfit we got.”