Cynthia Nixon portrays Miranda Hobbes. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Carrie Bradshaw. Kristin Davies is Charlotte York.
Illustration from HuffPost. Photo by HBO Max

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the first two episodes of HBO Max’s “And Just Like That … ”

Almost 20 years after the original run of HBO’s groundbreaking “Sex and the City” ended and more than 10 years since the last of two movie installments, HBO Max’s revival “And Just Like That … ” is here. There have been many concerns from the beginning. What would happen if Samantha (Kim Cattrall), was not there? Would the revival try to correct the show’s glaring lack of diversity and bring some of its outdated ideas into the present? Will its new characters of color (played by big names like Sara Ramírez, Sarita Choudhury, Karen Pittman and Nicole Ari Parker) be fully realized?

The fans have pored overEach scrap of news, photos and information from the production. The rollout of the new show has also been strange, with most reporters and critics not receiving screeners until the show’s premiere early Thursday morning, keeping the show shrouded in mystery. Screeners have been made available by HBO Max for four of the episodes.

Two episodes were shown Thursday. Eight more will follow, one per week. HuffPost’s Marina Fang, Candice Frederick and Erin Evans — all fans of the original show — break down their first impressions of the revival.

Marina Fang In figuring out how to kick off our conversation, I was about to call it “long-awaited.” But I think we can all agree no one was really clamoring for this revival. But, even though I saw the announcement from HBO, I knew I’d watch it. And I suspect that every fan of the original will watch it. We are here. I have … some thoughts. Candice and Erin, how do you feel about what we’ve seen so far?

Candice Frederick: Generally speaking, I feel like the writers often don’t know who these characters are anymore and what show they’re even on. First of all, Carrie wouldn’t be that squeamish about saying the word “pussy.”

Erin Evans:It was also quite jarring to see her helping Big in the kitchen. Though I don’t know if this was on purpose, but she was using what looked like Maldon salt to salt the fresh salmon. Maldon is a finishing salt, so at least it proved that she didn’t know what she was doing.

CF: Miranda’s drinking problems are almost as severe as those of any other female. (That’s not to discredit any potential alcoholism, but it seems tacked on for the sake of giving her a conflict.)

Lol, good catch, Erin! It is clear that she does not know how cook, and would never like to.

I go back to a really early episode of tHe original series, possibly even the pilot episode, when Carrie mentioned the word “pussy” to Skipper, and heIt was not something I wanted to do.

EE:I couldn’t watch the first thirty minutes of this episode. It was also so awkward to hear the first conversation.

CF: While I can appreciate the character’s evolution, they still have to be true to themselves. And why aren’t any of the women having sex yet — at all?

MF: Wow, great memory, Candice! It was something that I hadn’t thought of. The show is a bit sloppy and lacks direction. Heavy-handed dialogue: there is a lot more telling than showing. Some of this is due to exposition, and the need for each character to be updated. But it also feels like the writers came up with a list of topics they wanted to cover and then couldn’t figure out how to seamlessly integrate them into the show.

CF:I find it quite offensive that they keep telling us about how out-of-touch and old we are. Even “The Golden Girls,” though they certainly had their out-of-touch moments, never treated any of the characters like they were on death’s door. Their sexual lives were full even though they were discussing topics like menopause. Steve’s hearing loss cannot define his personality.

EE: I guess I should have guessed that there wouldn’t have been more sex since they decided to change the name of the series. It’s a shame.

CF: True! True!

EE:As a youngster, I couldn’t watch the first iteration. So, I was excited to witness them being sexually explicit and sexy now that I am a 30-something.

CF:They robbed their audience!

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kristin Davis in HBO Max's "And Just Like That ... "
Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davies in HBO Max’s HBO Max’s series “And Just Like That…
Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

That ‘Big’ Spoiler (Pun Intended)

CF: We should probably discuss Big, though I’m cool with us pretending he doesn’t exist. Always have been.

MF: Lol, same.

CF:It’s not my intention to feel awful, it is the opposite.

EE: OMG, I cried, y’all; it’s been the most relatable part for me.

CF: I will say that that’s what they should have done with Samantha.

EE: YES.

MF: I don’t understand why they seem to be teeing up a plotline of Carrie discovering he was trash. It was his nature!

CF:Yes, it is! OK, but Susan Sharon reminding us all of that — always at an inappropriate time — was the comedy I desperately needed with this show. And one that’s largely missing.

EE:When she appeared, I gasped and cried. She was going to bring us the humor (and honesty!) We needed that at the moment.

CF: YES!

MF: I was sad for Carrie, but Big’s death also feels like a bit of a stunt to me. (And it could also be that Chris Noth didn’t want to be in a lot of this show, or wasn’t available.)

CF:Marina, yes, it was something I thought about. It is also a bit annoying that he remains so integral to her story, even after his death.

EE: Here’s what I’ll say about the Big of it all, and yes, this gets a little sappy: So much of watching the show for me (and rewatching the show over and over) has been relating to each of the characters in different ways. And at every turn, I find myself latching on to something different, like I’m sure a lot of viewers do. The second episode was so emotional that I had to leave the room. Big was still on the ground in the shower. It was 20 years since my dad passed away from a heart attack. I saw Carrie grieving the loss of her mom in many of the same ways. The writers seemed to have done justice to the whole grief and death thing. And seeing Miranda by Carrie’s side felt really true to the character, and true to my mom’s experience as a wife losing her husband at an early age.

CF: Oh, I’m so sorry, Erin! That scene was very masterfully executed, and I have to admit that it is difficult for me not to agree about the grief role over lost friends and loved ones.

MF:Erin, we love you so much! This is not at all sappy.

EE: And since they ain’t gonna be funny in this show, I need them to do something right. I miss Samantha even more because of it!

CF:They must be hilarious, however.

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) in HBO Max's "And Just Like That ... "
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker); and Big (Chris Noth).
Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

Carrie and Samantha’s Friend Breakup

EE: I couldn’t even really laugh about Stanford kind of subbing in as the fourth character.

CF: I don’t believe Samantha would have fridged Carrie like that. I really don’t understand why it was so hard to handle this situation.

EE:OMG! I felt like ????? Is it because she is no longer her publicist? It made no sense.

CF: Stanford was always Carrie’s friend, so this is another example of the writers making up a conflict that doesn’t exist (i.e. He and Charlotte ribbing.

MF: Yes, it’s nice when shows show the end of friendships. However, this is completely absurd!

CF: Zero sense! Samantha made MORE money than Carrie every time!

EE:Although it would be very sad to see Samantha go, at least it would make sense.

CF: The thing that’s great about the original series is how much they portrayed genuine conflict in each of their friendships. They just moved on, and they never forgot about it. Samantha wouldn’t have written all of them off like this.

Big is a special guy. He’s an ass — RIP — but this was cute and honest. It could have been that I was so starved for anyone to do anything sexual on this show — other than the two teenagers BANGING IN THE ROOM NEXT TO HIS PARENTS.

MF: Oh, Brady. Side note: I cannot get over how he’s a teen now!

EE:Oh my God, Brady is still a teenager.

LMAO JINX.

CF: It’s funny because he looks exactly how you’d expect Brady to look today.

EE: Exactly. Truthfully, they seemed to have cast exactly the same child for many months.

CF: I always knew that Miranda would be the bad cop parent and Steve — who, in case you might have forgotten, is losing his hearing now — is the good cop. This creates an honest conflict between the two of them, something I have always known.

EE: LOL, it really annoys me that that’s all we get of Steve ― his hearing issue — because I really love his character.

CF:He was indeed a very interesting person! He was a man with many sexual partners.

The new characters

Sara Ramírez as podcast host Che in HBO Max's "And Just Like That ... "
Sara Ramírez as podcast host Che in HBO Max’s “And Just Like That … “
Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

MF:Are we interested in the development of characters (or lack thereof)? They announced these names and I felt cautiously optimistic. Of course, my optimism was also tempered by the fact that there is not much diversity left in the original, which sets the bar very low for the revival. So far, I like the glimpses we’ve gotten of each new character. However, I do hope that they will get more storylines in the future.

CF: I think Sara Ramírez is the most interesting new character on the show. However, Sarita Choudhury does have promise.

MF: Agreed on Sarita Choudhury (who’s introduced in the fourth episode). We should see more of her.

EE: Yes, I’ve always loved her as an actor. I like Sara Ramírez a lot too, obviously, as a “Grey’s” stan. But … their comedy set took up a long-ass time in that episode, and I was like, “OK, I get it.”

MF: Yes, Erin! Yes, Erin! Their podcast, however, is another attempt too forcefully to keep the show relevant for 2021. The podcast seemed almost like what they intended. ThinkWhat a podcast looks like

CF: I couldn’t help but wonder … if the PoC characters are here to help the white leads understand their privilege and little else.

MF: YUP. I was wondering that as soon as they announced Sara Ramírez’s character was going to host a podcast … and sadly, so far it seems like that’s the case with both their character and Karen Pittman’s professor character.

EE:This is it!

CF:It’s a bit heavy handed. Karen Pittman is the Karen Pittman.

MF:Miranda, that is a great scene. Yikes.

CF:What about the hair? Lol. Here’s the thing: Miranda has already shown in the first movie who she is when she and Brady were looking for an apartment when Steve and her broke up: “White guy with a baby. Wherever he’s going, that’s where we need to be.” So, as much as Miranda remains my favorite character, she’s still flawed. However, she’s trying to improve her self-awareness. Honestly, the whole exchange between her and her professor reminded me of many, many white liberal women who are horribly awkward about their “anti-racism.”

EE:Oh my goodness! I totally forgot about the white man with the baby line. You’re right!

CF:It’s hard to see, but it seems very authentic. Cringey!

MF: Yep, exactly! They certainly succeeded in making this scene, and many others, cringey.

EE:Yes, it was me squirmying through all the hair talk in the class. I think with any shows about race/racism where I don’t expect the convo to happen, I’m like, ‘Ugh, why are we doing this?’ I have been thinking about this specifically with watching this season of “Survivor,” but that’s another story for another day. But you’re right, they are actually showing us how awkward white women are around these conversations.

Karen Pittman and Cynthia Nixon in HBO Max's "And Just Like That ... "
Cynthia Nixon and Karen Pittman appear in HBO Max’s “And Just Like That…
Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

CF: And the other students looking like, “Who TF is this white woman?”

MF: For sure, Erin, and how it’s such a minefield for the woman of color who has to be like, “Uh, no.”

CF: YES! It’s so easy to see their roles as… teachers. Meaning, they’re there to teach them how to be better white people.

MF: We do start to get some character development in Episodes 3 and 4, but again, I’m not expecting much.

CF: Yes, true! Nicole Ari Parker, however, is there. I find her character fascinating because she wasn’t there to learn, but to enjoy purse wine.

MF:It was a great wine. This is an idea I’m stealing. And yeah, I was just thinking about how the women of color in Charlotte’s school parent group are a nice contrast: They aren’t as defined by their identities.

CF: LOL! It’s true! They’re just elite folks who enjoy random dinner parties and alcohol out of a bag at a child’s music recital.

MF: I’m hoping that’s the case for Sarita Choudhury’s character too, that she’s this glamorous real estate agent.

CF: Same! This woman is amazing.

Sarita Choudhury in HBO Max's "And Just Like That ... "
Sarita Choudhury appears in HBO Max’s series “And Just Like That…
Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

EE: I hope they build out Nicole Ari Parker’s character more. I love her, but also, I am really annoyed by Charlotte, so I don’t want to think of her as “Charlotte’s friend.”

MF: Ugh, Charlotte making Big’s death and Carrie’s grief all about her!

CF:LOL. This was a Charlotte-style move. Miranda and Carrie have depended on one another to handle emotional situations. (Remember Brady’s birth and Carrie being his godmother? And Charlotte was the one who was a master at, say, Miranda’s mom’s funeral. I also enjoy that the whole flower thing had such significance — a callback to the “My Motherboard, My Self” episode, as well as Samantha’s love note to Carrie.

How Should You View It?

EE: I’ll definitely keep watching ― but I hope it gets funny. It was enough for me to cry and I now need laughter…and some sex!

MF:Yes! I enjoyed the nods to the original. In general, I find the shows that are too heavy handed less appealing.

CF:Yes, both me and you agree. I’ll keep watching because I adore these characters, but some of the magic of what makes these characters great is missing for me.

MF:You know what? I could talk for hours about this. This shows that, even though we have reservations about the revival, we still find something appealing about these characters. Like, we’ve unpacked a lot, yet there’s still so much we haven’t even discussed! I’ll keep watching for all of the drama and to see where it goes.

Source: HuffPost.com.

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