“Excuse me, are they going to do Miranda dirty AGAIN?” I scream-typed to my group chat when our Sex And The City fave told Charlotte (consistently my least fave) that she and Steve had not had sex for years.
Thankfully, And Just Like That was simply setting everyone’s favourite corporate lawyer turned student up for a possible fling with new friend Che – the first character arc that felt at all “Miranda-ish” in the new series.
I’m all for Miranda having a crisis of sexuality – it’s a plot line that would make complete sense in the SATC world circa 2021. With gender and sexuality spectrums far more discussed and embraced than they were in the 90s (ahem, can we ever forget Carrie’s gross freak-out over dating a bisexual man), a character only just now discovering her true self in her 50s is such a wonderful one to explore on a series that always championed women growing and changing, even during periods of life where it was more socially accepted to just “be”.
But who is this Miranda? I don’t recognise her. As my sister said during one of many heated discussions about And Just Like That, if the scale was Samantha on one end (liberated, outspoken, daring) to Charlotte (ignorant, privileged) on the other, Miranda sat right up near Samantha. She was always the straight-shooting realist, which is why everyone was shocked when it was Miranda, not Charlotte, who had never listened to podcasts and word-vomited her way through meeting her Black professor Nya Wallace, stumbling through casually racist comments about Nya’s hair, then behaving like a white saviour when Nya was asked to present her ID pass to a college security officer.
“You’re the professor?” Miranda asks Nya, shocked.
“Yes! Why do you seem so surprised?” Nya responds, visibly perplexed.
“Well, your braids,” Miranda says.
“A law professor can’t have hair like mine? Why is that?”
“Oh no, no, I didn’t mean because of the braids,” Miranda fumbles. “I was just thrown as the braids are just so different to the hair in your photo on the Columbia website. My comment had nothing to do whatsoever with it being a Black hairstyle. I knew that you were Black when I signed up for this class. That was important to me.”
“You signed up to this class because I’m Black?” Nya says, as the wide eyes of other students pierce Miranda’s soul.
“Please just forget that I ever said anything about your hair,” Miranda responds. “Hair has nothing whatsoever to do with appropriateness or relevance… Do I look like someone who attaches any significance to hair? I let mine go grey and it makes me look old. Not that I’m ageist. Do I sound ageist?”
Miranda’s been diminished to a bumbling, confused 50-something. She is the stereotype of the ageing female – she is in a sexless marriage she clearly hasn’t questioned for years, is alarmed by her son Brady having sex with his girlfriend and smoking weed, and seems completely out of touch with 2021.
“It’s like I was so scared of saying the wrong thing that I said all the wrong things,” Miranda reflects later.
I find it hard to believe that the Miranda who was killing it in a male-dominated field, was sexually adventurous and never coy about it, and who always called the other ladies on their sh*t would be so adrift in this modern world. Sure, I can believe she’d struggle with growing older as we all do – slowly but surely becoming less in-the-know as younger generations rise up and change the status quo.
This is how Cynthia Nixon, the powerhouse behind Miranda, sees her character development. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Nixon said this stumbling through modern life was textbook Miranda. “[She]’s always sort of jumping before she has everything figured out. She’s very not afraid to stick her chin out, and sometimes she leaps a little too quickly. So we see her definitely putting her foot in her mouth quite a bit, but I think it’s brave of her. I think it’s really hard for white people to talk about race if they never have before.”
While I agree that Miranda has often put her foot in it, is it truly believable that Miranda would be this out of sync with the social and political mood of 2021? How has she not spoken about race prior to meeting her new professor? At the very least, the fact Miranda has chosen to leave corporate law behind to pursue a Masters in Human Rights as a way to help the underprivileged should surely mean she’s educated herself in some capacity on anti-racism.
Miranda feels like a fuddy-duddy in And Just Like That. She’s behaving like that awkward aunt who lived a narrow life and is now even more clueless than they ever were about the world. The woman moved to Brooklyn in the 90s while her friends considered New York City as beginning at Central Park and ending at Wall Street.
I also feel like having Miranda and Steve’s marriage once again in a giant rut is a disservice to all the challenges they’ve been through, and the strength of their relationship. They have long been my favourite couple – Steve was always such a wonderful counter to the often privileged, snobbish energy of the characters in SATC. They were the perfect opposites-attract pairing and it just feels a bit ridiculous that Miranda wouldn’t have dealt with the loss of sex in their marriage sooner than years down the track. After all, wasn’t the absence of sex the first sign their relationship was in trouble way back in the first movie? There is no way Miranda wouldn’t have questioned this, and consequently her sexuality if that’s where this plot line is headed, years prior. Still, I am okay with Steve and Miranda ending if it’s part of her discovery of self. I just wish the series wasn’t diminishing that marriage to this sexless, boring partnership like they’ve done in the past. We saw the sex scenes, guys! We remember how hot Miranda and Steve were in bed.
I know, I know – it’s just a show. But it’s one that really impacted our lives, and we’re invested in these characters. I feel like Miranda was the one character we really thought would shine in her 50s, and honestly the one many of us now identify most with after spending years trying to convince ourselves we were the free-spirited, chaotic Carrie in our worlds. It just doesn’t seem fair to reduce her to this.
Nixon says there are “many more changes coming for Miranda” that will make her character development across these first three episodes “look small”. But it’s not really about where the character is headed, it’s that Miranda has even become this person in the first place. Here’s hoping we at least get some justice for our series fave.