Sarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett on "And Just Like That..."

Review: 'And Just Like That...' Brings Sex Back to the City in Season 2

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 5 MIN.

Manhattan's most glamorous group of girlfriends are back in Season 2 of the "Sex and the City" followup "And Just Like That..." – and this time, they're bringing the fun.

Season 1 kicked off with the death of Mr. Big (Chris Noth), leaving franchise main character Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) bereaved and adrift. After bouncing around between a couple of different addresses (with the help of new pal Seema [Sarita Choudhury], a realtor), Carrie ended up back in her cozy old apartment; now, she's slowly readying herself to love again, forging a new career as a podcaster and enjoying Thursday afternoon post-show sex with the podcast's hunky producer.

But what if there's more out there for a still-youthful and now-single fifty-something woman? Season 2 heats things up, and not just for Carrie. Longtime friend Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has left her husband, Steve (David Eigenberg) for an exciting new lease on her love life with nonbinary comedian Che (Sara Ramirez). She spends a good deal of time in Season 2 across the country, in Los Angeles, where Che is filming a TV pilot. Che was a controversial character in Season 1, to say the least, and some of the internet hostility to the character finds its way into the story arcs for Season 2 as Che struggles against the Hollywood system and audience backlash.

Source: Craig Blankenhorn/Max

More romantic complications stem from the failing marriage of Columbia law professor Nya (Karen Pittman) and her musician husband Andre Rashad (LeRoy McClain). The basis for their growing estrangement is an inability to have children – something that's a bigger deal for one partner in the marriage.

Meanwhile, Charlotte (Kristen Davis) – the last of the OG "SATC" crew (except for a brief cameo late in the 11-episode run, by Samantha Jones actor Kim Cattrall) – is busy with her husband Harry (Evan Handler) and their kids, musically gifted daughter Lily (Cathy Ang) and nonbinary child Rock (Alexa Swinton). The younger set have their own subplots in the season, and that includes Miranda and Steve's son, Brady (Niall Cunningham). Somehow, the show seeks to balance its bawdier comic beats with more or less wholesome family moments, with mixed results.

More successful this year than last is the show's newfound sensitivity to matters of inclusion and representation. Not only do the writers find time to touch upon Che's trauma as a nonbinary person in a world that's full of binary bias and outright misogyny, they also recalibrate their entire approach to racial issues. A moment of overt bigotry takes place when cab driver after cab driver refuses to stop for Herbert (Chris Jackson), who is Black and one of the newer characters to the franchise. The situation is given just enough weight and is treated seriously, and feels like a more honest invitation to conversations around race than we saw in awkwardly-written scenes that some deemed "cringeworthy" last season, especially when it came to the developing friendship between Miranda and Nya.

Source: Craig Blankenhorn/Max

Herbert's wife, the documentary filmmaker Lisa (Nicole Ari Parker), is one of the more nuanced new characters; she's driven, ambitious, and sometimes impatient with her family, though she also has moments with Herbert that are tender and loving – not exactly signature stuff for classic "SATC," but "AJLT," and particularly Season 2, has a sense of expansion that makes room and makes it work.

In fact, the show's sophomore season feels more expansive and more ambitious in many ways, and that includes finding glimmers of the original show's edgy explorations around how "Mars and Venus" codes of sexual etiquette sometimes fail to align. The show also feels more relaxed about letting friends old and new mix and mingle; this time around there are more scenes of Carrie sipping cocktails with newer pals that feel organic and natural, with no need for apologies that members of the old guard aren't necessarily present.

That said, in a show as crowded with core and recurring characters, it's probably inevitable that someone would get short shrift. Longtime gay character Anthony, played by Mario Cantone, is relegated too often to the margins, where he seems to hover for the sole purpose of making bitchy comments. The loss of actor Willie Garson meant that the show's other gay male character, Stanford, had to be written out, a story development that cries out for more attention. If anyone needs a new man on this show, it's Anthony.

Overall, however, the new season is a marked improvement. It's a new day on "And Just Like That..." and the characters, and their storylines, are moving forward with the times. The scripts aren't as saucy as they were on the original show, but the writers seem to have gotten a good deal of their groove back.

"And Just Like That..." Season 2 premieres on Max June 22.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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