'And Just Like That' Failed The 'Golden Girls'

- Sex and the City -
'And Just Like That' Failed The 'Golden Girls'

When the idea for a Sex and the City reboot was being thrown around, it’s too bad there wasn’t someone in the room saying “let's make this thing a Golden Girls for 2021,” because honestly, that would've been a great direction.

Think about it: aside from Sophia Petrillo who was 79 when Golden Girls premiered (actor Estelle Getty was 62), the fictional Miami, Florida roommates were not much older than the And Just Like That crew is now. Rose Nylund was 55, Dorothy Zbornak was 53, and Blanche Devereaux was 47. In And Just Like That, Carrie Bradshaw is roughly 52, Charlotte York is about 54, and Miranda Hobbes is 54.

In many ways, each group is living their best lives as fifty-somethings in metropolises. Yet, Golden Girls, even though it’s been 36 years since it first aired, somehow seems more relatable than the current versions of the SATC characters, and it's all about attitude.

Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia not only knew how to laugh at themselves, they understood both their power and vulnerabilities as women over 50. Their wittiness and sharp humor reflected their lives and experiences, and any moments of naïveté they had while navigating the fast-paced world around them was balanced by their unwillingness to be perceived as women with expiration dates. While the SATC women strive to relay that same message in And Just Like That, they’ve somewhat missed the mark.

Let's start with the fact that the show portrays 50 as the new 70. New Yorkers do not age like the rest of the world; walking everywhere means a trip to the grocery store can be counted as a workout, and marriage and children after 35 is the norm in NYC. Yet, this series has our stars dealing with widow-maker heart attacks, hearing loss, and makeshift canes for bad hips. Yes, the hip surgery was due to a congenital defect, but still, our favorite characters have aged beyond recognition.

Image: NBC

I don’t mind the aging aspect of the series, I truly appreciate that women over 50 are being showcased (natural grays and all) and like on Golden Girls, I enjoy seeing the experiences of people who are older. But when some of these storylines feel like they were made with the sole purpose of highlighting that the characters are old, it doesn’t resonate. Did we need Carrie to have hip surgery in order to set up Miranda’s affair? Seems like there was probably another way.

Then there’s the fact that the ever-young, age-is-but-a-number character is missing. The lack of Samantha Jones’ fun energy has left a gaping hole of despair. Without her, there are no ridiculous penis puns, no devil may care attitude, and well, there's barely any sex in the city without Samantha. A Golden Girls without Blanche would’ve been just two middle-aged women and a near-octogenarian sitting around eating cheesecake. Blanche made the group light and kept them young; she was a crucial part of the friend group dynamic, and so was Samantha. Without her, things are dark and decidedly less exciting.

What ages the series and its characters most is perhaps the shoe-horning of diversity. There’s nothing more now than inclusion, and most people want to see more of it on TV. There are series like The Politician and Cobra Kai that are able to do it in a way that feels seamless, but in the first four episodes of And Just Like That, the creators have tried to check every inclusive box in a little less than four hours of programming.

There’s Charlotte realizing she has a child questioning their gender identity while also trying to solve her “predicament” of the lack of Black people in her life; there’s Miranda exploring her extramarital feelings with a non-binary person at the same time her sobriety is in question; and there’s Carrie going from prolific sex columnist who wants her friends to not judge her bad decisions to prudish podcast host who snaps at her friends for perceived, out-of-touch insensitivities… it’s a lot to take in all at once and would be better received if played out naturally over time.

After all, New York has always been the fifth main character and it’s one of the most diverse cities on Earth; the uniqueness of the landscape doesn’t have to feel so forced. It’s that forced feeling that prevents the series from feeling as modern as it should.

A recent article in US Weekly suggested that talks for AJLT Season 2 have come to a sudden halt in light of the allegations of sexual assault against actor Chris Noth. Considering Mr. Big died in the first episode of Season 1, it’s difficult to reason that Noth’s alleged crimes (which he denies) would be a legitimate excuse not to continue the series. House of Cards completely retooled their Season 6 when they had to fire Kevin Spacey; when a show is successful or large budgets have been put into the development and marketing of a fan-favorite series, networks won’t easily let outside factors affect schedules or prior investments.

Maybe making Noth the scapegoat for a thwarted Season 2 is a strategic distraction from the rumblings online about how the reboot was not as successful as perhaps HBO (and fans) had hoped. We could place the blame on Noth, sure, but the only thing jeopardizing a Season 2 of And Just Like That isn’t Noth’s character, it’s the show’s characterization of age.

Maybe we should stop asking ourselves if we’re Carries, Samanthas, Mirandas or Charlottes, and start asking ourselves if we’re Blanches, Roses, Sophias, or Dorothoys. At least those ladies made aging look awesome.

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