"And Just Like That," Miranda ruined Che for viewers

In her "Sex and the City" youth Miranda Hobbes was lovably pragmatic. Now she sucks the air out of the room

By Melanie McFarland

Senior Critic

Published July 9, 2023 4:01PM (EDT)

Cynthia Nixon and Sara Ramírez in "And Just Like That" (Craig Blankenhorn/Max)
Cynthia Nixon and Sara Ramírez in "And Just Like That" (Craig Blankenhorn/Max)

See if you can relate to this scenario: Someone who was once adjacent to your social circle, and who wasn't quite your cup of tea, turns up in your life unexpectedly. It could be at a party, or the grocery store — wherever it is, you take a few minutes to say hello and realize they aren't as terrible as earlier impressions led you to believe. Against all odds, this person may be growing on you. The more you think about it, maybe you realize your issues with them may not have had anything to do with who they naturally are, but who they turn into around other people.

What I'm suggesting is that our mass recoiling at Sara Ramirez's Che Diaz on "And Just Like That…" may be misdirected. Perhaps – nah, let's stop pussyfooting and call it like it is. Our problem isn't with Che. It's who Che became around Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), a former fave who is acting out the worst version of herself in her 50s.

And Just Like ThatCynthia Nixon in "And Just Like That" (Craig Blankenhorn/Max)

This isn't news to anyone who survived the first season of the "Sex and the City" spinoff, where Miranda distinguished her midlife awakening from that of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) by cheating on her husband with Che, Carrie's nonbinary former boss who hosted a podcast while identifying as a stand-up comic.

Miranda ruins moods.

I cannot sum up how poorly introduced Che was as succinctly as Vox's Alex Abad-Santos, who describes them as "an assembly of blue-linked Wikipedia entries on 'queer,' 'non-binary,' and 'podcaster.'" Che's a polyamorous horndog full of swagger, flavors viewers enjoy in other shows — Kate Moennig's Shane McCutcheon from "The L Word" comes to mind.  But along with being sophomorically written in Season 1, Che's main mortal sins were delivering a painfully unfunny set to a crowd heroically doubling over with fake laughter and busting up Miranda and Steve (David Eigenberg).

Neither of those was the character's fault. The show's writers failed Che at the comedy club in New York and fail them again at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, where they pop up in the second season. The writers are responsible for their material, not Ramirez, although the actor reportedly worked closely with the "And Just Like That" team to develop their character.

But Miranda also failed them at nearly every major juncture before and since, which further clarifies with each new episode.

Hating Che is an easy sport. People wanted to throttle them for assigning Miranda the appalling nickname Rambo and diddling Miranda in the kitchen while a post-surgery, bedridden Carrie wet herself.

But, and hear me out here, have you considered Miranda's role in all this? It's not as if Che is some queer mesmerist who ensnared Miranda by forcing weed smoke down her stupefied pie hole. Miranda is the one who snuck back to the club where Che was performing in the first season episode "When In Rome..." She was the one who hit them with the opening line quoted from her workout water bottle.  


Miranda, in her 50s, is a walking, talking strap-on awkwardly drooped over granny panties. 

A hop and skip from New York to Los Angeles later, Miranda wrecks Che's sitcom pilot shoot by sneaking a phone into the studio and leaving the ringer on, which quite predictably pierces the silence engulfing a tender TV moment and murders it cold.

There are different ways to look at this scene, depending on how much you detest Che. Their hate club may point to it as observable proof of their self-centeredness which, duh. They're a performer trying to break into Hollywood. Find me one of those who isn't nursing a starved ego, and I'll sell you my unicorn.

Looking at it from another angle, Che is a person who has been grinding toward a goal for years only to have their shot compromised by their girlfriend's insistence on prioritizing her teenager's boo-hooty-hooing over a puppy love breakup. In Amsterdam.

Let me preface what I'm about to say by identifying myself as a tattooed person who appreciates the ease and comfort of full-coverage underwear: Miranda, in her 50s, is a walking, talking strap-on awkwardly drooped over granny panties. 

While this refers to a scene where Miranda toys with that kink before abandoning it to her relationship insecurities, there is no better instance of an image capturing everything that's wrong with this character. Miranda cartoonishly struggles with a leather and chain body harness while wearing the finest from Target's lingerie line, only to give up midway through and redirect Che's desires with a dinner offer.

And Just Like ThatOliver Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker in "And Just Like That" (Craig Blankenhorn/Max)

Miranda feigns being open, but she'd rather shape Che's world to her liking instead of fulfilling the reason for her move to L.A., the purpose of which was to be in her lover's world.

We used to appreciate Miranda's rigid, pragmatic cynicism. Out of the original quartet, she was the person who kept everyone anchored to reality. Usually that made her the cloud that always threatened bad weather but the "Sex and the City" writers understood that sometimes a little rain is refreshing.

Now she's another graying ween turning a tattoo artist into her therapist, or the spoiler in a threesome with Che's ex-husband Lyle (Oliver Hudson). Once she yells about her charley horse what might have been a saucy turn degrades into an awkward limb pile because that is Miranda's avocation. She ruins moods.

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I get the compulsion to blame Che for everything that's still wrong with "And Just Like That" since the new season has yet to add as much dimension to other characters who deserve more expansion. Nya Wallace's (Karen Pittman) entire personality is that flaming car GIF from "Waiting to Exhale." Sarita Choudhury's Seema Patel is worth spending more time with, but that was true last season too.

But if we resent Che for being more rounded out in these new episodes than they are, that could be because Che's overall improvement makes Miranda's obnoxiousness tougher to ignore. 

Che yelling at Miranda for derailing a scene they drilled extensively and were concerned about getting right seems shallow and ridiculous, but so is Brady (Niall Cunningham) and his failure to launch, a product of Miranda and Steve's preposterous accommodation.

This week the Internet went wild over Steve's angry man bod, glimpsed as he channels his rage into a speed bag installed in what used to be the bedroom he shared with his estranged wife. Whether this is just healthy expression or worrisome is open to interpretation. But from a purely physical standpoint, Miranda's abandonment has done wonders for his fitness regimen.

Could that absence make us view Che a bit more fondly? Who can say. In any event, we'll never be rid of Miranda. Carrie's brunch observation about jism (which, though unappetizing, is consistent with this show) also applies to Ms. Hobbes. Carries says it's "like an old friend that gets on your nerves, you know? I think I'd miss it if it were gone."

Probably. But we may appreciate the people closest to her more if Miranda left them and us alone for a while to become their better selves — for all of our sakes.

New episodes of "And Just Like That..." stream Thursdays on Max.


By Melanie McFarland

Melanie McFarland is Salon's award-winning senior culture critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

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