And Just Like That... Speaks To Me In A Way That Sex And The City Never Did

It’s not as funny or lighthearted. I doubt it will be called iconic or groundbreaking. It’s not setting any trends. But that’s part of its beauty.

by Jen McGuire

Sex and the City was not for me the first time around. It should have been for me. I was a woman in my early 30s who loved romance and had friends and wrote about my life for my local newspaper. I liked brunch. So why couldn’t I get behind Sex and the City?

Jealousy. Really, just jealousy. Carrie and Miranda and Charlotte and Samantha were living lives more foreign to me than SpongeBob SquarePants, the vastly more popular series in my household at the time. Sure, they were all approximately my age but I was a mom, a single mom of multiple sons. Not even just one cute daughter which for some reason is so much more palatable for a network series. I was too broke for brunch, unless brunch was me making pancakes on a Sunday for four little boys who seemed less than interested in talking about breakups or new love interests. They were my love interests, and they weren’t even all that interested, to be honest.

My adult friends were all moms too, and they didn’t have time for brunch, either. Sometimes we went to the movies and split appetizers in a local restaurant beforehand, but the gossip, I’m sorry to report, was mostly about our kids. My life felt like a horrible funhouse mirror version of Sex and the City that no one would have tuned in to watch. I lived in a small town in a rented house on a deadend street. I barely dated and when I did it was sad tragic, not “Post-it Note” fun tragic. My big breakup was actually a divorce that I mourned on winter walks in secondhand boots or cried over in the laundry room as I folded 10,000 pairs of little boy boxers. And my wardrobe… well. Carrie and the gals would not have liked me. If I was in a scene on Sex and the City, I would have been one of those boring suburban moms the four of them laughed at, with my lazy ponytail and tired eyes. And I would be frowning at those women for their silliness.

I really hated their silliness, or maybe I hated that they had time to be silly. That they had time to dip their fries in ketchup or shop for shoes or go for pedicures or think about themselves, all the time they got to think about themselves. Because they didn’t have kids and I did, and back then, this was our great divide, the beast we all fed.

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Anthony (Mario Cantone) at brunch in Season 2, Episode 4 of And Just Like That... Photograph by Craig Blakenhorn/Max

Now I am 50. And I embrace every minute of And Just Like That… with my whole heart. After 20 years of feeding the kids/no kids, city/small town beast, I have time to just stop. To see how we have all grown back to each other in middle age. Our shoulders are not squared against each other anymore; they are soft and rounded and loose from the yoga we’re all doing to improve our posture. Our sameness in our 50s is more than our differences. The menopause we all joke about but keeps us up in the night, crippled with fear and worry and loss, this belongs to us all. The losses are not measured against each other anymore but instead held within the hoop of our clasped arms to share. When Carrie drinks a cocktail with Anthony in her pajamas in the middle of the afternoon or Charlotte gets a surprise period in her white jumpsuit or Seema rails at the erasure of single culture in her late 40s or LTW is getting her career off the ground after years of raising kids, this is for all of us.

It’s not as funny or lighthearted. I doubt it will be called iconic or groundbreaking. It’s not setting any trends. But that’s part of its beauty.

And Just Like That… is like a playground for middle-aged women, a colorful, ridiculous game we are all invited to play because now is our time to be the same as each other. To marvel at any friendship that has gotten us here, the relaxed, easy way of simply having your people. To spend a little money on goody stuff if you are very lucky. A boozy brunch where yes, we still talk about our kids. But our kids are grown into their own people. Hopefully learning to be silly in themselves the way I am learning to be silly too.

We are in our second puberty together; that’s what And Just Like That… feels like to me, except this puberty comes with slightly better sheets and maybe sleeping in on Sunday mornings and a holiday to Paris that once felt impossible. Improbable. Imprudent. Silly.

And for the luckiest among us, there might be a relaxed love that is not the sexy, Mr. Big and Carrie kind of heart-twisting drama that we once thought we wanted. It might look more like Charlotte and Harry trying to program her new phone on their big bed, easy and unthinking in their contentment with each other.

And Just Like That… is probably not as good as Sex and the City was. It’s not as funny or lighthearted. I doubt it will be called iconic or groundbreaking. It’s not setting any trends. But that’s part of its beauty: the way it lets us all in.