Forget Aidan. "And Just Like That" needs to bring back Carrie's voice – and column writing career

Carrie's writing didn't just add personality and insight, but also a cohesiveness to the narrative that's lacking

Published August 29, 2023 12:00PM (EDT)

Sarah Jessica Parker in "And Just Like That..." (Craig Blankenhorn/Max)
Sarah Jessica Parker in "And Just Like That..." (Craig Blankenhorn/Max)

The second season of "And Just Like That" saw the return of a lot of fan favorites from "Sex and the City." Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) repurposed her wedding dress from the first film to wear to the Met Gala, revisited her romance with ex-fiance Aidan (John Corbett), and even spoke briefly to Samantha (Kim Cattrall) while bidding farewell to her Upper East Side apartment in the season finale. 

Carrie's move to Gramercy Park with a newly adopted kitten signals a new era for the character when the show returns next season. But there is a crucial "Sex and the City" throwback that should come back for Season 3: Carrie's writing. Specifically, her weekly columns.  

Carrie always vociferously identified as a writer.

Sure, Carrie's writing career was never that realistic — she might be the only freelance writer on the planet who has never had to hustle. On "Sex and the City" she supported herself solely through her work as a newspaper sex columnist (inspired by Candace Bushnell's '90s-era columns for The New York Observer), and never expressed any ambitions beyond it. 

Instead, opportunities fell into her lap. She was asked to freelance for Vogue (famously for $4 a word) and towards the end of the series, approached by book editors to turn her columns into a collection of essays.  

Even if she was never very ambitious, Carrie always vociferously identified as a writer. And there was a real charm having each episode themed around her column, with Carrie working through her latest romantic entanglement or friendship issues through her writing. If Carrie was frustrated with Big (Chris Noth) or in the middle of a fight with Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), she shared her feelings in her columns, which were communicated via voiceover. Even if she didn't express herself out loud to the other characters, the audience always knew exactly where Carrie stood. 

Speaking to the audience through her column allowed us into her innermost thoughts, which created an intimate connection between her and the viewer. Many fans identified as "a Carrie" because they could see themselves not just through the character's travails, but her reflections on them too.

"And Just Like That" could have benefited from having the character narrate from her memoir-in-progress during the first season.

Reviving the "Sex and the City" franchise with "And Just Like That" without Carrie's signature voiceover made Big's death even more shocking in the moment, but also less impactful as the season went on. To not have access to her inner dialogue during the most momentous and tragic event of her life, as well as its immediate aftermath, felt odd and even discordant. 

This season, Carrie recorded the audiobook for her memoir about losing Big. And her palpable emotion speaking the words out loud highlighted how much Carrie's voice has been missed from this show. "And Just Like That" could have benefited from having the character narrate from her memoir-in-progress during the first season. Because while there were storylines that charted her initial devastation and how she gradually moved on, Carrie and her thought process remained largely closed off to the audience.  

And this aspect became frustrating for viewers during the second season when Carrie rekindled her romance with Aidan. Carrie was always a character who threw herself into romance without reservations, and once again Carrie and Aidan fell hard for each other while ignoring their fraught past. Nevertheless, having a heart-eyed Carrie wonder out loud to Miranda, "Was Big a big mistake?" was a lightning bolt that threw fans for a loop. Miranda was so shocked she couldn't answer the question, and the show never revisited that eyebrow-raising question again. 

And Just Like ThatSarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett in "And Just Like That" (Max)There is no bigger moment in the past two seasons that warranted Carrie's voiceover than that statement. If we had a better idea of what spurred that bombshell beyond being in a honeymoon period (again) with Aidan, then perhaps it would not have seemed so random. (Confused viewers should not have to turn to the "And Just Like That" Writer's Room podcast or showrunner Michael Patrick King's post-mortem interviews to fill in the blanks when Carrie acts out of character.)  

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Beyond Carrie's characterization, her column also provided "Sex and the City" a unifying framework. No matter what happened in each episode, the stories for Carrie, Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Samantha and Miranda were always thematically linked.

And with four characters' stories to serve in a half-hour of television every week, Carrie's signature question, "I couldn't help but wonder . . . " provided balanced storytelling. If one of them was having a significant storyline, then another character was that week's comic relief. And whether the stories were as dramatic as Carrie's doomed affair with Big, or as light as Samantha dealing with "funky spunk," all four women were featured in every episode. And ultimately, everyone's story arcs received equal weight.

If Carrie returned to writing on a regular basis, then perhaps "And Just Like That" and its sprawling cast would have more cohesive storytelling and thematic unity.

With several new cast members and a longer running time, "And Just Like That's" episodes tend to meander. It's hard to achieve "Sex and the City's" cohesion with this large ensemble cast of seven main characters, which extends to spouses, ex-spouses, their children and their friends. The 40-minute episodes also highlight that some of these people barely exist in the same universe. For example, there is not a lot of overlap in Carrie's life with Nya's (Karen Pittman), or Miranda's life with LTW's (Nicole Ari Parker). This results in unequal screen time for the series regulars.

If Carrie returned to writing on a regular basis, then perhaps "And Just Like That" and its sprawling cast would have more cohesive storytelling and thematic unity. As for where Carrie would write, perhaps she can get her own Substack like her former Vogue boss, Enid (Candice Bergen). (A whole season could be devoted to a rivalry between Carrie and Enid as rivals competing for the same Substack readership.) 

Especially if "And Just Like That" is about the next chapter in these women's lives, a vital part of the series should delve deeper into the fact that we are following these beloved characters into their 50s, and the unique challenges and rewards that comes with being that age.  

Charlotte's season-long arc about returning to the workplace to reclaim her identity outside of being a wife and mother was undoubtedly the strongest. It was a logical and satisfying evolution of the character we have known since she was a thirtysomething single woman whose biggest goal was finding a husband. 

Sarah Jessica Parker in "And Just Like That" (Craig Blakenhorn/Max)In fact, Season 2 has actually seen every main character ruminating on their career ambitions . . . except for Carrie. 

Just as when she was a freelance writer who worried she'd be "the old woman who lived in her shoes," Carrie lacks motivation and drive in her work life. She has a lot more money now, a kitten name Shoe, but little else to keep her occupied beyond waiting five years to reunite with Aiden.  

Aiden's departure occurs just as many of Carrie's friends are moving forward professionally or in their personal lives. A regular writing commitment (a blog or Substack or even a Threads thread) would be an ideal way for Carrie to figure out where she goes from here. She could even actively seek out writing opportunities and consider what else she wants to achieve in her work. And with aging and mortality on her mind, perhaps she could even give some thought to her legacy.

* * *

It's understandable that by taking away Carrie's signature voiceover, the creative team wanted to signal that "And Just Like That" is not trying to be a carbon copy of "Sex and the City." 

But the critical reaction to "And Just Like That" has been largely been, "This is so bad, but I can't stop watching," because our affection for these characters runs deep. We know them so well, which is why when the series depicts the original trio acting inexplicably or out of character, viewers blanch.

Even with the criticism of "And Just Like That," the second season is largely regarded as an improvement over the first. And if Season 3 begins with Carrie back at her laptop in her new apartment, there is a good chance the series can recapture what made people fall in love with Carrie Bradshaw & Co. in the first place.


By Kirthana Ramisetti

Kirthana Ramisetti is author of two novels, “Dava Shastri's Last Day,” a “Good Morning America” Book Club selection optioned by Max, and “Advika and the Hollywood Wives," a Book of the Month pick.

MORE FROM Kirthana Ramisetti

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