Sex and the City was never my thing, but I’ve watched every episode at least once. Both movies, too, even the second one where they flee Abu Dhabi under cover of niqabs because Samantha got busted having sex in public. Yikes. I’m slightly too young to have watched the show in real time, but one summer in high school I binged the entire series. And then I made my choice. I wasn’t fashionable or cool enough to be a Carrie. Charlotte made me want to pop a handful of the first sedative I could find. I’d have liked to have said I was a Samantha, but that would have been a lie. The same process of elimination that meant I was always Baby Spice when I played pretend with my preteen friends—I had the blonde pigtails—meant I was a Miranda: the powerful corporate attorney, the marathon runner, the bride who didn’t wear white, the woman who reamed out a sandwich for catcalling her. The one of the four who, at least from time to time, wanted to talk about something other than men. I could work with that.
This wasn’t a cornerstone of my personality. Rather, a silly thing that made for easy cocktail banter, dumb tweets, and a true north while taking Buzzfeed quizzes. Your ideal vacation is a cabin in the woods with a stack of books and your preferred drink is an old fashioned? Great, you’re a Miranda. Pick between these four pictures of seemingly identical french bulldogs: Surprise! You’re a Miranda. Miranda’s low-key queerness was also a draw for me. Sure, Charlotte tries to get in with the power lesbians of the art world. (They ultimately reject her, “if you’re not going to eat pussy, you’re not a dyke.”) And Samantha has a brief, if problematically written, relationship with a woman, before she decides she “misses” men. Miranda’s encounters with women are no better scripted and no less homophobic. The episode where she pretends to date a woman in the hopes it’ll help her make partner at her firm, complete with a final kiss to ensure she really is straight. Again, yikes! But something, perhaps Cynthia Nixon’s IRL queerness or the costume department’s decision to dress her exquisitely in suits and ties, registered with me. Are many of us, in reality, probably a combination of some of the toxic traits from each woman on Sex and the City? Yes, but that’s not how the game goes. You have to pick just one. And so I picked the softball player.
In the Sex and the City reboot, though, Miranda Hobbes is a shadow of her former self. (Warning, spoilers ahead.) Her compatriots’ personalities seem to have remained encased in amber since the show’s finale in 2004: Carrie is still puns and charmingly batted lashes and Charlotte is still, well, Charlotte. (Samantha lives in London and the famous quartet is now a trio.) But Miranda seems to have devolved, regressing into the worst possible version of herself. In the pilot episode of And Just Like That, we learn she’s left her corporate job to get another degree and try to do some vague good in the world. On her first day of class, she sits in a chair and is promptly warned by another classmate that the seat is for their professor. She moves and offers the same warning to a Black woman with braids who enters and sits in the chair. The woman is, of course, the professor (Karen Pittman as Dr. Nya Wallace.)
The conversation that follows—and the subsequent conversations between the two—are a death by a thousand microaggressions. Miranda goes full Karen and points to Wallace’s hair in an attempt to explain her racist assumptions about what an academic should look like. It’s painful to watch. In another scene, Miranda yells at a security guard who won’t let Nya enter a campus building without her ID, forcing Nya to explain to Miranda how she only escalated a situation that otherwise wouldn’t have been a big deal. (He also won’t let anybody else in without one.) On a subway platform, Miranda beats off a masked attacker trying to steal Nya’s bag. She then sheepishly says she wasn’t sure if helping in that instance was the right move because she didn’t want to be a white savior again. The Miranda Hobbes of 2002 would have known in her gut that was the right move. She’d have said something like, “Oh my god, are you okay, what a piece of fucking shit” and then offered to buy Wallace a stiff drink. Cynthia Nixon sold “I’m a Miranda voting for Cynthia” merch during her run for Governor of New York in 2018. Nobody is voting for 2021 Miranda.
As much as I’d like to imagine myself as a person who is going to age gracefully, I know that’s an aspirational hope. That the version of myself at 55 might not be everything the 30-year-old iteration hopes she’ll be. I can only pray it’ll be close. And before you tell me, that’s how the show always was! Go re-watch it! It’s cringe city, USA! I don’t disagree. But for Charlotte and Carrie, the cringe levels remain the same some 15 years later. Charlotte making Big’s death entirely about her. Carrie pontificating about whether or not the ladies are going to order … french fries. That all feels both outdated and familiar. What feels unfamiliar is a racist Miranda so out of touch with reality it’s astounding anybody could have watched the original show and said, I’m that one.
In an attempt to correct the extreme whiteness of Sex and the City, new characters have been introduced into all three women’s plotlines. Carrie’s working alongside a Latinx, nonbinary podcast cohost, Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) and Charlotte has befriended Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), a Black documentary filmmaker and top mom at their kids’ school. Neither of those relationships have resulted in Carrie or Charlotte quoting anti-racism books at their new friends. Having one of these white, privileged women say the quiet part out loud is a smart way to finally address race on a show that never, ever did. Having that woman be Miranda, however, feels like the wrong choice—though maybe that’s just selfish thinking and I’d feel differently if I identified more closely with Carrie or Charlotte.
Samantha Irby, a writer for And Just Like That, told Deadline the first two episodes “really lean into the uncomfortable conversations” and the following installments will be about the growing “friendship” between Miranda and Nya. And while it’s big, maybe even too big, of Nya to not just tell Miranda to get lost and never speak to her again, the damage is done. After watching those first two episodes, I’m contractually obligated to hand in my Miranda card. Maybe I’ll take a trip to London and never speak to my friends again. Give being a Samantha a try.