Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of And Just Like That…
Let me begin by saying that, despite what I consider to be its many flaws, I really have been enjoying watching and covering And Just Like That and discussing the show with friends. I wouldn’t say I’ve been “hate-watching” the Sex and the City revival, but I’ve definitely been viewing it with skepticism, bemusedly laughing off its many odd and uncomfortable moments. The show’s absurdity and its missteps have been legitimately entertaining!
But with Episode 7, “Sex and the Widow,” I kinda hit a wall. By all accounts—and, full disclosure, I’ve read a couple since 7am this morning—this is, or is meant to be, the episode in which Carrie, and by extension AJLT, gets her groove back. Or starts to, anyway. She’s finally writing again. Or maybe she has been this whole time; hard to tell based on the dizzying array of seasonal weather in the episode’s opening montage. But then, we are living in an era of extreme weather and climate collapse, so who knows! Regardless, three atmospherically chaotic months after the events of the previous episode, Carrie has finished a memoir about grieving the death of her husband and is pressured into going out on a date by her caffeine jacked publisher in order to add a “glimmer of hope” to her depressing book.
Thus, some have interpreted this episode as reviving Sex and the City’s fun, dating-adventures-of-a-single-gal vibe. And of them I ask: Are we watching the same show? “Sex and the Widow” is not what I would call fun. No one, neither the characters nor the actors, seems to be enjoying themselves at this point. And that’s saying something on a show that has already given us both a funeral and Che Diaz’s stand-up. Carrie seems profoundly uncomfortable on her date with possible Jack Berger clone Peter (Jon Tenney). True, they get hammered and leave the restaurant in peals of laughter, but we never really see them connecting or what exactly they got such a kick out of. And then, of course, they vomit all over themselves and each other. Super fun and sexy, gang!
Their date isn’t the only thing the episode yadda-yaddas. See above re: Carrie’s writing time warp. Also, we’re missing the connective tissue whereby Seema is suddenly having dinner with Carrie and the girls. When did she meet Charlotte and Miranda? Is this their first group outing? It’s not that we can’t infer that they’ve already met and hit it off, but it would have been nice to see how she was integrated into this very cliquish friend group. It would also have been more for the absolutely fabulous Sarita Choudhury to do!
Meanwhile, everyone is fighting. Miranda and Steve can barely seem to stand each other, and their abortive attempt to reignite their sex life is almost as uncomfortable to watch as Miranda’s kitchen tryst with Che. Meanwhile, Harry and Charlotte and LTW and Herbert all seem to be fighting just to give them something to do. I suppose the show is trying to make a point about how all couples fight or whatever, but watching these particularly trivial disagreements play out feels about as awkward as going to a real party where the hosts are fighting. You don’t really care what’s going on between them, you just really want to not be there.
Even Naya Wallace and her saintly husband Andre are fighting! Their spat ratchets up the tension, not only because it has to do with their very real, grown-up fertility journey, but also because of when and where it takes place. The episode has the couple driving in Brooklyn, presumably so that Andre can inadvertently find out that Naya isn’t pregnant when her car’s virtual assistant reads a text from Miranda. But hovering over the scene is the chilling specter of something much more serious. Naya is, of course, driving while Black. At several points, she seems to be paying less attention to the road than is wise for anyone. After she nearly hits a white gay couple and their toddler, one of the men verbally accosts Naya and Andre, going so far as to strike the outside of their car. They ultimately laugh it off, but I watched this whole scene terrified that it would escalate into Very Special Episode territory—not because a show featuring Black characters necessarily has to include scenes of racism and police violence, but because I didn’t trust this show to know better than that. There is so much in this scene that feels ill-considered, it was painful to watch.
The episode culminates at a benefit for Charlotte and LTW’s kids’ exclusive Upper East Side private school. This is the kind of set piece that would have had a madcap screwball energy in the original Sex and the City. Remember the black and white ball in Season 4? Or literally any other party the girls went to that seemed…fun? This auction does not seem fun. No one seems to want to be there, and even that isn’t really played for comedy. Carrie seems like she would rather be anywhere else—even her austere dress has a very I’m-just-here-because-I-have-to-be kind of energy; no whimsy, no fun. She’s also surprisingly ungracious when she’s being auctioned off. In what is becoming a theme on this show, her discomfort isn’t so much entertaining to watch as it is just awkward.
In the end, Carrie agrees to go on another date with Pete Burger (Burg-Peter? I’m still workshopping this), and claims to have found the glimmer of hope she was looking for. Could. Have. Fooled. Me. I honestly didn’t think And Just Like That could get any more awkward, but “Sex and the Widow” proved me wrong. Still, maybe this dull, workmanlike episode was the nadir of the season. If Carrie has indeed gotten her groove back, maybe it’s all uphill from here. There’s my glimmer of hope.