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And Just Like That... renewed ahead of season three finale: ‘we know that fans missed Samantha Jones’

The cast of And Just Like That... (PR Handout)
The cast of And Just Like That... (PR Handout)

And just like that, Sex and the City – the cult romantic comedy show that explored the sex lives of single women in their thirties as they dated their way around New York City throughout the early Noughties – has been renewed for a third season.

Meeting with mixed reviews, the first season of And Just Like That… first aired in December 2021, following Sex and the City’s central characters Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte York (Kristen Davis) as fifty-somethings. Along with exploring a complex new slate of issues, including Carrie’s grief following the sudden death of Mr Big, Miranda’s sexuality being thrown into question by a new romance, and Charlotte struggling to support her child Rock as they come out as non-binary, it often felt worlds apart from the original source material. A second season is currently airing; in a review, we called it “rudderless and disjointed” but celebrated the sillier aspects of the show.

The OG Sex and the City, though hilarious and often genuinely groundbreaking, admittedly had significant diversity issues; remember when literal sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw recoiled in pearl-clutching horror at the idea of dating a bisexual man, or Samantha Jones’s fetishisation of black music industry exec Chivon? And Just Like That… attempts to right some of these wrongs, drafting in plenty of brand new characters to try and rebalance things along the way. Among them: Mexican-American stand-up comic Che Diaz (who is non-binary), documentary maker Lisa Todd Wexley, real estate titan Seema Patel, and Columbia law academic Dr. Nya Wallace.

“We knew that the show had been white,” says Sarah Jessica Parker of the show’s reboot. “We wanted to bring in more characters… because that was something that was important to us.”

Perhaps the most divisive of all the new characters so far has been the abrasive Che Diaz. In season two, Miranda’s newest love interest – who has a habit of bursting into scenes by loudly announcing: “hey, it’s Che Diaz!” – perhaps goes on the biggest journey as they struggle to find themselves within their onstage persona. “I’m really glad that we are opening them up to show us more about who they are and what makes them tick,” says actor Sara Ramirez.

Che Diaz and Miranda Hobbes (PR Handout)
Che Diaz and Miranda Hobbes (PR Handout)

Conspicuously absent, meanwhile, is the original show’s brilliantly lewd, sex-positive icon Samantha Jones, though it’s since been revealed she will be making a short, surprise cameo in And Just Like That…’s season two finale.

“I don’t know how it happened, but I do know that she is back,” confirms principal director and writer Michael Patrick King. “How is she back? I won’t tell you, because I’m pissed that you even know she’s back! I wanted it to be a surprise where everybody’s just sitting at home and they see a phone call, and it’s not a text. I’m mad that it got leaked so that your head doesn’t blow off when you see it.”

“At the point that we did And Just Like That… Kim had made it clear she was not ready, or didn’t want to play Samantha anymore. And then magic happened,” he says. Asked if Cattrall’s character could pop up again in the future, King declined to answer. “I told you, I’m not telling you anything about Samantha, past what you already know,” he said laughing. “It’s already spoiled for me. I’m not spoiling it anymore!”

Kristen Davis, who plays the show’s wide-eyed romantic Charlotte York, added that Samantha offered a valuable foil to the rest of the central characters in Sex and the City. Though we’re told early on in And Just Like That… that Carrie and Samantha have drifted apart after the former fired the latter as her publicist, the two characters continue to be drawn to each other, exchanging a series of texts throughout the first season. What kind of closure does Davis think that Carrie is looking for?

“I think that sometimes you really do have friends in life who are very different from you,” Davis says. “I think that’s what was great about the four of us… Charlotte had a really different perspective to Samantha, and Carrie and Miranda. All of us represented different points of view at different times, and sometimes argued, as friends do. I don’t know that there’s a closure or resolution necessarily,” she said.

Of Samantha’s cameo and her character’s relationship with Carrie: “those are kind of big things that I don’t know that we were going for. We just thought that it would be fun for the fans to have a little bit of Samantha, because we know that they missed her, and she’s a great character.”

“I don’t know that we’re even trying for closure at this point, or resolution,” Davis adds. “I think we just thought: here is our character who’s been gone, and we know people miss her, and Carrie misses her. Wouldn’t it be great to have a little bit of her? That’s what we wanted, and then I think maybe hopes had been lifted, possibly higher than that,” she admits. “That was not our intention, so I hope people aren’t disappointed.”

Charlotte York (PR Handout)
Charlotte York (PR Handout)

While Carrie was deep in the grip of bereavement throughout season one of And Just Like That… reeling from her late husband (played by Chris Noth) coming a cropper atop his Peloton, the second season finds her in a more “buoyant” place, reveals Sarah Jessica Parker, whose iconic character has asked countless existential questions about love, sex and relationships (mostly beginning with the words “I couldn’t help but wonder...”) since the show’s inception in 1998.

“Loss kind of reveals itself when you think you are recovered,” Parker says, “and I think that’s kind of what Carrie articulates and expresses.. there are occasions when [grief] surfaces, or is revisited in ways that are unexpected.” The actor also explains that she drew on personal circumstances in approaching the storyline. “My father passed away unexpectedly recently,”  she says. “For my mother, it’s been very hard to make sense of [things] and she’s been super noble as she’s tried to navigate through this loss. There are times that it is inarguably really painful, but it doesn’t mean that she’s without joy, or that she doesn’t have great days.”

Bringing back more of Sex and the City’s intrinsic comedy, King agrees, felt important. The original show, he suggests, became increasingly funny over time as viewers became familiar with each characters’ minute quirks; “By season two, season three, and season four, you were like: ‘Oh, my God, if that happens to Charlotte, I will die’.

In the second season of And Just Like That…he adds, ”the palette moved from dark to light, because our feelings about the first season was; Carrie is going to go through a big loss, and that’s going to affect everything. Even the humour will be forced, or may be specific. Now she’s coming to the light, from winter to summer to spring, it can be more fun. Once you jump into bed with people, here come the jokes.The minute you’re having sex with people, humour enters, because it brings up uncomfortability, embarrassment, and vulnerability.”

Carrie Bradshaw (PR Handout)
Carrie Bradshaw (PR Handout)

“The biggest and most important thing that Sex in the City did was make sex funny,” he says, reflecting on the show’s cultural impact, 25 years after it first aired, “versus dark, and hidden, and forbidden. That's the first calling card for me: we got to make sex funny, [and show] that women would speak about sex in a shocking and delightful way.”

“The other really important thing that Sex in the City did when it started – and I think the reason that we're even here now – is because it gave a voice to a voice that didn't exist [on television]. When it came out, a 34 year old single girl was considered a leper; like, there was something wrong with her if she was not married at 34. At that time, when we were doing Sex in the City, all of us writers were single, all of us. So it was nice to be able to say, ‘Well, what do you mean party of two, I just walked in here?’ Why would you assume that there could be somebody else with me at this restaurant?

“I think what’s most important to me as we continue to go on into And Just Like That... comes from Carrie’s last monologue [in Sex and the City]. She says, basically, the most significant important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. And if you find somebody else to love you? That’s fabulous. I think it’s an interesting journey to be choosing yourself as your significant relationship. Those were things that were never on television, or in pop culture, before we were lucky enough to be able to do them.”

And Just Like That... airs on NOW TV