It’s taken years for Sarah Jessica Parker and the two other leading ladies of HBO’s Sex and the City to be granted their wish of another installment in the hit series.
But somehow, it’s only fitting that the production of And Just Like That, the long-awaited revival, is turning out to be just as chaotic as Carrie Bradshaw’s infamously messy love life.
The warning signs were all there. It began when HBO Max announced the project in January, proudly declaring that Parker, Cynthia Nixon (who plays Miranda Hobbes), and Kristin Davis (Charlotte York Goldenblatt) would all be part of it. Outrageously absent from the new series is Kim Cattrall’s beloved character of sex-positive, public relations powerhouse Samantha Jones.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise, seeing that Cattrall obliterated plans for a third movie in 2017 and has been vocal about having no desire to revisit the show. “It was a blessing in so many ways but after the second movie I’d had enough,” she told The Guardian in 2019. “I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just replace me with another actress instead of wasting time bullying. No means no.”
Plus, Cattrall has been in a longstanding feud with Parker, calling her a “hypocrite” and “cruel” in response to Parker sending her condolences after Cattrall’s brother was found dead in Feb. 2018. “Let me make this VERY clear,” Cattrall seethed to Parker on Instagram. “You are not my family. You are not my friend. So, I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your ‘nice girl’ persona.”
Still, Cattrall’s absence from the reboot did not go over well. After all, how could one of the show’s most important characters be erased from a show based on the longstanding friendships and dynamics between four New York City women?
In the months since, things have not been much better, starting with the annoyingly slow trickle of casting updates. Announcements of which actors will reprise their roles have been dragged out for no apparent reason.
It seemed pointless. Fans were sure that Chris Noth’s character of Mr. Big, Carrie’s main love interest whom she finally married in the first SATC movie, was surely bound to be heavily featured.
But Page Six ran a report in February that Noth wouldn’t be returning, causing a collective eye roll amongst diehard fans. Hadn’t they already endured six seasons of Carrie and Big going back and forth, watched him stand her up at the altar only for them to marry at a courthouse, then withstood Carrie cheating on Big with her former fiancé Aiden Shaw (played by John Corbett)? Now, in the reboot, he was going to be written off?
The groans escalated when Corbett let slip in April that he was going to be involved in the project, calling it “very exciting.”
Meanwhile, HBO Max was staying mum on the casting apart from Parker, Nixon, and Davis. The only other update came in May when Grey’s Anatomy alum Sara Ramírez was cast to play the new non-binary, stand-up comedian character of Che Diaz, Carrie’s podcast co-host.
The move was a signal from executive producer Michael Patrick King that the reboot intended to correct wrongs from its past. Over the years, the original Sex and the City run has been largely criticized for its lack of diversity and comments that veered towards homophobic.
A few days after Ramirez’s announcement, The Daily Mail announced that Noth was returning to the series after all, as was David Eigenberg’s character of Steve Brady, Miranda’s husband. When HBO Max was asked about the news, reps said the report was unconfirmed.
Days later, Noth’s casting was official. “How could we ever do a new chapter of the Sex and The City story without our Mr. Big?” King wrote smugly in the press release.
By June, the additional regular cast members were finally confirmed: Mario Cantone would be reprising his character of Anthony Marentino, Willie Garson was back as Stanford Blatch, and Evan Handler was picking up where he left off as Charlotte’s husband Harry Goldenblatt.
With casting squared away, it seemed there would be no more surprises when filming began in July in New York City. But almost instantly, photos of the women on set began popping up in the tabloids. Eager fashion outlets were quick to dissect the costumes, pointing out Easter eggs and the homages to iconic looks from previous seasons.
Even pedestrians began snapping photos, submitting their sightings to DeuxMoi—a wildly popular Instagram account that is as close as the world is going to get to having a real-life Gossip Girl. One eagle-eyed fan captured the previously unannounced guest appearance of Natasha Naginsky—Big’s second wife.
Then in the biggest leak to date, Page Six managed to get a sneaky glimpse of the script—seemingly from a very zoomed-in paparazzi photo, revealing that Carrie is in the process of divorcing Big and the two are fighting over their finances.
“I was taping the podcast, I was washing my hair,” Carrie laments to Miranda, Charlotte, and Stanford, according to the script’s dialogue. “Yes, I wasn’t eating or sleeping, but at least I felt good about my marriage. Now I’m just one of the wives he was taking care of?”
Filming isn’t even past the one-month mark. But with a constant stream of leaks, it’s growing tiresome trying to avoid spoilers left and right. With only 10 new episodes to catch up with Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte after nearly a decade, the artificial suspense and unintended spoilers rob fans of a chance to be genuinely surprised with their big updates.
A reboot is supposed to be exciting for fans, giving them something fresh to look forward to. But where’s the fun of knowing all the twists and turns of a limited series, even before it has a premiere date set in stone?
If And Just Like That hopes to finally wrap up the stories of its beloved characters in an entertaining way for its audience, it needs to clamp down on the leaks and tighten up the set while filming. Otherwise fans might pull a Samantha and refuse to return, too.