"And Just Like That" demonstrates the mother of all downers: spoiled rich kids

Carrie releases a solid comfort to embrace a future with Aidan and his kids. Good luck, girl!

By Melanie McFarland

Senior Critic

Published August 13, 2023 4:00PM (EDT)

Sarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett in "And Just Like That" (Max)
Sarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett in "And Just Like That" (Max)

The following contains spoilers for "And Just Like That" Season 2, Episode 9, "There Goes the Neighborhood"

One of the most thoughtful conversations in "And Just Like That …" occurs in its first season, when Nya (Karen Pittman) confides in Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) that she's going through a second round of in vitro fertilization. Nya describes the treatment as a necessary second trip to hell "because the first one didn't take." 

Then, after describing the hard sell she's getting on motherhood, Nya allows a secret to slip out. "When my last round of IVF didn't go through um . . . I felt a huge wave of relief. And listen, my husband and I love our life. But then I'm also afraid that if I don't have a child, I'm going to regret it one day."

Nya's second round of IVF doesn't work either. Not long afterward her marriage stops working too. Nya's husband Andre (LeRoy McClain) decides he needs to have kids, but she doesn't. 

And that makes Nya's action in the episode titled "There Goes the Neighborhood," especially sweet. For most of the second season, we've witnessed her process her divorce rage through culinary solace and at least one anonymous hotel smash. Now, at last, Dr. Wallace gets some of that city sex, loudly enjoying a Tinder himbo as Miranda cringes through each groan in the room next door.

Across town, Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury) enjoys a love scene co-starring her demanding movie director client (Armin Amiri), and in someone else's luxurious Manhattan condo, no less. Completing this hat trick is Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), still smoking off her rekindled connection with Aidan (John Corbett). For the first few weeks of their union, the two shacked up on a hotel bed and ordered overpriced omelets before overstaying their welcome at Che's (Sara Ramirez) illegal vacation rental. 

So that's a triple score for the child-free. 

Meanwhile, Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) is collapsing under the weight of being a successful filmmaker and political wife and a mother. She commits the crime of all crimes, passing out so soundly that her child must make herself cereal for dinner. Her husband Herbert (Chris Jackson) is horrified.

Elsewhere Charlotte (Kristin Davis) has a better handle on motherhood, mainly because she coddles her daughters beyond all reason. 

Miranda, on the other hand, confides in Charlotte that she is worried about her underachieving idiot Brady (Niall Cunningham). Charlotte's solution is to send her eldest and newly sexually active child Lily (Cathy Ang) over to Brooklyn, thinking that Lily would talk some sense into her non-biological cousin.

What Miranda doesn't plan on is catching Lily strutting out of Brady's bedroom, sans pants, the next morning.

And Just Like ThatNiall Cunningham and Cathy Ang in "And Just Like That" (Max)"And Just Like That" misses a lot of targets, but it's been fairly evenhanded in its depiction of motherhood and life for women who choose not to have kids. Not versus, since that connotes a competition between mothers and others – and. 

In ye olden "Sex and the City" days, Carrie supported Charlotte's yearning for motherhood with a spirit that equaled her confidence in Samantha's sexual verve and Miranda's career aspirations. 

Carrie was also content to withdraw from the bottle-and-diaper races; babies didn't fit her upscale New York life. Whatever extra space exists in her beloved jewel box apartment is already taken up by her truest loves: clothes and shoes.

Then, and now, the series' writers don't come down definitively in favor of one state of being or the other either, choosing instead to thoughtfully contextualize each life choice as "roads not taken," to paraphrase Miranda's advice to Nya at their long-ago dinner, 

However, "There Goes the Neighborhood" makes a strong argument for the emotional and spiritual freedom available to women like Seema and Nya, both of whom make a point of prioritizing their joy since they aren't obligated to suckle any youngsters with it.

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Seema's gutting speech to Carrie in the previous episode ("A Hundred Years Ago") spells that out when she breaks it to her new friend that she's reclaimed the deposit on their Hamptons summer pad. 

"From everything I've heard, it sounds to me that you've had these two great loves, and I've had none – no, please, don't say I will, because I might not. And I can live with that," Seema tells Carrie. "But I can't do this summer. That's not true – I could, but I don't want to. I don't want to spend a fortune having this feeling."

Why should she? Seema knows what she wants, and Nya is discovering what she needs. Of the two, Choudhury's character has received more attention and development since she won the fourth seat at the restaurant. 

Nya, in the meantime, occupies liminal space in "And Just Like That" as the writers figure out what to do with her subplot. In large part her identity reclamation journey has been delightful, if relatively limited, save for this episode's accidental stumble on an Instagram post of Andre with his newly pregnant lover.

Her shock is genuinely gutting, similar to the "been there" sting of Neema's confession to Carrie. Then again, if Nya questions her reproductive choices she could simply spend time with Brady, Lily and Rock (Alexa Swinton).

Because truly, and I can think of no other way to say this that conveys the simple honest and convictional force behind it: F**k them kids.

The "And Just Like That" child band is self-absorbed, inconsiderate, psychologically draining little Bling Ring goblins. 

To be clear, the Wexley children are not included in this assessment since, for the same reasons we lack insight into Nya's interiority, we barely know them. That probably won't change now that Lisa's about to spawn a new addition. Besides, having met Herbert's overbearing mother one assumes Lisa and Herbert reasonably discipline their children so . . . I have no notes!

As for the Goldenblatts' eldest who sends her mother into a city-paralyzing snowstorm to get her condoms for her first sexual experience, what sensible parent would accommodate that demand? (Follow-up question on behalf of my old school readership: How has Charlotte not caught a case by now? How is Lily still alive?)

How many boys who have graduated high school are so stunted that they can't endure their first major breakup without interfering in their mother's life – and contributing to the ruin of her new relationship? (It's also Miranda's fault for taking her phone into Che's pilot taping but – Brady's breakup happened in Amsterdam! Tell that whippersnapper to go to a coffee shop and smoke it out!)

And Just Like ThatNiall Cunningham and Cynthia Nixon in "And Just Like That" (Max)So the possibility of Lily and Brady hooking up is indeed frightening. But they're also living reminders that even after you get past the 3 a.m. bawling and pants-crapping phase of parenthood, there's the chance that your genetic material will never strike out on their own.

Even if they do, they may spend their adolescent years pushing you to your sanity's edge. Remember Lily's first pop dirge?

"Empty mirrors, I'm unseen/ Park Avenue streets, where do they lead? Stuck in the deep, goddamn/ The power of privilege."

To review: Seema and Nya? They're good. They're figuring things out. They don't have to navigate this noise.

Carrie, on the other hand, is ready to give up her perfect little apartment to buy a massive Gramercy Park prewar palace, because Aidan will never step foot in her place again.  

Edith Wharton's miniature estate is fabulous – no doubt. Every wall looks like a wedding cake slice, and a promenade through their local park to which Carrie holds a gate key is steps away.

But it's one thing to choose love – and thunderous sex, apparently – and another to abandon your hard-earned shelter to make a man you once left more comfortable and accommodate his sons Homer, Tate and 14-year-old Wyatt, after spending only a week with them. Also, Wyatt can't stand her. (F**k them kids too.)

And Just Like ThatSarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett in "And Just Like That" (Craig Blankenhorn/ Max)Aidan's return prompted us to consider how few chances "And Just Like That" is willing to take with the show's standard bearer, and how frustrating that stagnancy feels. 

Nevertheless, the writers deserve kudos for justifying his reappearance as a way of letting Carrie explore a major road not taken in her life, a fantasy most people would love to explore.

Surrendering Carrie's signature lair is one way of living up to the initial thesis of "And Just Like That" (such as it was), which proposed catching up with these characters and moving forward with them. Carrie's place was always hers – she kept it through her marriage to Big, not as a contingency plan but because it's her space. Maybe it's time for her to level up.  

But ladies, hear me now: Manhattan real estate is one of the surest things going.

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Carrie embraces Aidan's family and lifestyle at the cost of hers and in a very short amount of time. And yes, moving on means letting go of old habits, including classically adorable apartments made for one. But in a show that's still figuring out what it wants to say through its characters and this time of life, her reasoning is a bout of narrative aphasia. 

When Aidan's ex-wife Kathy (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) meets with Carrie and warns the writer not to mine her kids for material, that's a warning flare shot skyward. 

It's a shame Carrie doesn't spend more time with Nya, who looked into the motherhood tunnel with Miranda and realized a room of one's own is a wonderful thing. 

"There are so many nights where I would love to be a judge and go home to an empty house," Miranda tells Nya during that dinner. "And then I see my son, and I'm glad! And then I see his dirty underwear on my kitchen floor, and I'm mad."

Carrie's new place has an echo, which she and Aidan will have fun putting to the test. By now, we know these grand plans are often curtailed by the other stiletto dropping. Provided Wyatt isn't hammering it into one of her expensive walls when that happens, everything should work out.


By Melanie McFarland

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

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And Just Like That Carrie Bradshaw Commentary Cynthia Nixon Hbo John Corbett Kristin Davis