Sarah Jessica Parker in <i>And Just Like That...</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That… (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

We’re at the halfway point in our And Just Like That… journey, and it must be said, HBO Max’s Sex and the City follow-up has already had more than its fair share of wild and occasionally super awkward moments. Like, Miranda beating up a mugger dressed as Chucky, and the very worrisome subtextual implications of that, for instance. Or Carrie once again fully stalking her husband’s ex-wife. Or, ugh, Charlotte’s adopted daughter Lily affectionately, unironically kinda comparing herself to their rescue dog! Or Rock’s TikTok rap. Or Carrie’s Heart of the Ocean necklace. Or Che’s podcast sound effects! (Also, why does everyone keep calling Che’s stand-up show a “comedy concert”? Who says that?)

Heading into this amusingly bonkers show’s second half, let’s take a look back at some of the first five episodes’ weirdest, most unforgettable moments.

Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker in <i>And Just Like That...</i>
Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That… (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)
Carrie asking Big to you-know-what…

Masturbate. Carrie asks Mr. Big to masturbate in front of her. (I’m wasn’t being coy, I’m just not sure you can write the word “masturbate” in boldface on GRAZIA. I’m still not entirely sure that someone’s not going to burst into my apartment and put a Fendi bag over my head and take me out to Jersey and have me shot.) Anyway, she asks him to masturbate in front of her in the premiere and for a split second it actually seems like he might do it! I mean, even before all the very disturbing accusations against Noth surfaced, this scene was hard to watch. Like catching your parents having sex! Ugh!

Niall Cunningham and Cree Cicchino in <i>And Just Like That...</i>
Niall Cunningham and Cree Cicchino in And Just Like That… (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)
Brady having sex

As another HBO heroine once memorably said, I don’t need to see that! Which, you know, is not to say that Niall Cunningham—the 27-year-old actor who plays Miranda and Steve’s feckless teenage son—isn’t goofily handsome. It’s just that, well, fans of Sex and the City remember Brady as an adorable, googley eyed ginger toddler! It seems unnatural and wrong to see him and his girlfriend Luisa (Cree Cicchino) going at it like…well, like Samantha used to. Also, bizarrely, this is the scene that opens Episode 2, and is thus the first thing we see after Big’s operatic death! Like…what are you doing, show?

Sarah Jessica Parker in <i>And Just Like That...</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That… (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)
Big’s funeral

You know that episode of Absolutely Fabulous where Edina’s father dies and she complains that the coffin isn’t styled properly, that it “should be against white, it should be backlit”? The insane, arcticly minimalist funeral home where Big’s service takes place is kinda what I imagine Edina Monsoon might have had in mind. Chic, but absurd; basically devoid of human warmth. I mean, I get that style, aesthetics, etc. are important to these people, but good god!

Sarah Jessica Parker in <i>And Just Like That...</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That… (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)
The Barneys tribute

I don’t know why, but this is the one that find myself chuckling about most often. There’s this shot in Episode 4, when Carrie is leaving the apartment she shared with Big for the last time. She puts the box containing his ashes in a shopping bag from Barneys New York, which the camera lingers upon meaningfully. I literally laughed out loud when I saw this. Except I’m pretty certain it’s not meant to be a funny moment. It is, obviously, the show’s not especially subtle way of paying tribute to the iconic department store, which closed its doors for good in 2019. And, as with Big’s white box funeral, it’s another moment that kinda makes me question the priorities of the people making this show. Sure, Barneys was important to Carrie—I seem to recall her saying at some point in the original show that part of the reason she loved her apartment was that it was within walking distance of the store—and I’m sure its closure was devastating for the character—to say nothing of the actual real people who worked there. But by connecting the loss of Barneys with the loss of the love of her life in this way, it’s almost like the show is equating the loss of a human life with the closing of a department store. Which…LOL.

Cynthia Nixon in <i>And Just Like That...</i>
Cynthia Nixon in And Just Like That… (Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)
Miranda and Che having sex in Carrie’s kitchen

I have re-watched this scene a few times to figure out what it is about it that makes me so uncomfortable, and to make sure that I’m not being agist or misogynist or some shade of transphobic. I don’t think I am. I think what makes this scene feel so uncomfortable is that everything that happens seems like a really bad choice—and of course, that’s intentional. Carrie, who is recovering from hip surgery, has already made her boundaries clear to Miranda earlier in the episode: she doesn’t want to see her boss while she’s so out of it and/or in pain. And yet, Miranda invites Che into Carrie’s apartment while she’s sleeping. She does shots with them when she’s supposed to be looking after her vulnerable friend. Meanwhile, the sex they ultimately have isn’t hot enough to justify Miranda’s betrayal of Carrie’s (let alone her husband’s) trust. It lacks that frisson of sexy naughtiness, which has nothing to do with the appearance or gender of the people involved. Rather, I think it’s because the show has failed to sell us on why Che is so great. They actually seem like kinda the worst in a lot of ways. Their comedy isn’t particularly funny, they seem weirdly cool about people masturbating in public, they’re constantly smoking pot at inappropriate times and are apparently perfectly willing to get 17-year-old boys stoned as well. They seem like kind of a bad influence on everyone! And then you’ve got poor invalid Carrie waking up in pain to find that her best friend has more or less abandoned her to pee in a Snapple bottle!

Much has been said about how little sex there is in this Sex and the City revival, but watching this scene isn’t so much like watching a sex scene as like watching a horror film! Like, a less sexy and way less funny Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?