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The Surreal Deal: “And Just Like That” Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2 recap

Season 2 of And Just Like That … is already off to a better start than the entirety of its predecessor. While the basic framework of the reboot remains the same – and token friendships and real estate porn of it all remains flaws – now that the relationship gerrymandering seems to have stopped, we’re watching the characters breathe in their late fifty-something lives and current relationships. And even, yes, have and talk about sex.

The core crew — Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) — remain key players, but screen time is more evenly divided between them and the newer friends: Che (Sara Ramirez), Seema, (Sarita Choudhury), Nya (Karen Pittman) and Lisa (Nicole Ari Parker). The first two episodes set the stage for more robust story lines for all of these characters, as well as a deepening of the friendships among them.

In Episode 1, Carrie has taken a shine to Franklyn enough to sleep with him and watch cooking shows every Thursday after they record her podcast, but not enough to invite him to the “Met Ball” (which is obviously the Met Gala in disguise for some reason), for which plus ones are batted around like pingpong balls for the whole 45 minutes.

Carrie also isn’t sure that she is ready to move her romance with Franklyn to the “relationship place.” He invites her to meet his friends on a Tuesday, and she agrees but immediately wavers, hence the call to Che. Che knows Franklyn but doesn’t know what’s going on inside his “man head,” as Che puts it. Alas, Che is little help.

Meanwhile, Seema actually gives up her Met Ball ticket in order to meet the son of her beau, Zed (William Abadie). This step forward with Zed is important enough to her, apparently, to also be OK with meeting his ex-wife, Victoire (Rachel Kylian), who informs her that Zed still lives in her house.

This isn’t the only love interest we come to find still has a problematic tie to a former spouse. Over on the West Coast, Miranda finds herself stranded in Malibu without a phone to call an Uber. Che sends Lyle (Oliver Hudson) to pick up Miranda, and whoops! Has Che never mentioned being still legally married to that guy?

What might be most wild about this story line is that Miranda is talked out of being miffed by it in a matter of minutes. Che shrugs it off as no biggie, and all it takes is a few kisses for Miranda to forget the whole thing. This is the same woman who walked out on a man at a comedy club in the original series when she found out her date was separated, but not divorced, from his wife.

Which brings me to an argument I made throughout Season 1, which most people disagreed with me on. But I’m sticking to it: So much of who Miranda is now and what she does seem out of character because she has never been hit this hard by love. Che is the “core shaker” none of her other partners — including her ex-husband, Steve Brady (David Eigenberg) — ever were, which has softened Miranda in a way many of us never thought we would see. Our self-sufficient queen never worried before that she couldn’t make it on her own. But for the first time, she has something to lose. It shows.

Conversely, we discover that Nya has perhaps been holding onto something she should have lost a long time ago. She catches her husband, Andre Rashad (LeRoy McClain), writing songs in a hotel room with a hat-wearing ingénue, but he tells Nya he hasn’t cheated on her “yet.” If that’s not vomit-inducing enough, he says that Nya has one last shot to prevent it by using a surrogate to have his baby.

Meanwhile, Carrie is asked to read an ad for a vaginal wellness company, and she just can’t stomach it. She hates all the icky language and simply can’t bring herself to talk about issues “down there.” She insists on reworking the copy. This is such a clumsy storyline, and one that does no justice to the Carrie we have known for a quarter-century. A vaginal wellness product as a sponsor for her podcast is entirely on brand. The idea that Carrie would be so thrown by the pairing is absurd.

That she and Franklyn task themselves with rewriting the copy instead of simply asking some lackey on the marketing team to request a less geriatric word for “suppository” is a colossal waste of their time. That Carrie, you know, the sex writer, has to call multiple sources to ask what words they use for “vagina” — and that Franklyn feels it necessary to download Final freaking Draft to punch up a few lines of text that could easily have been edited on a napkin — brings this whole sequence to a level of buffoonery we’ve not seen since Kim Cattrall’s Samantha graced us with “Lawrence of my labia.”

The most ridiculous thing the audience is asked to believe, though, is that Carrie’s refusal simply to read this copy out loud is the final straw that collapses the entire podcast empire. That’s it. That one ad didn’t pan out, and the whole company crumbles. The “Sex and the City” podcast is no more, and with it, the Thursday night sessions with Franklyn die off as well.

Maybe it’s for the best, though, for us, as viewers. Carrie has a blank slate now, both personally and professionally. No job, no man, but plenty of financial stability and freedom to do whatever she wants. It’s exciting to think about where that might take her with no chance of running back to the late Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Especially for the Aidan stans among us.

Season 2 seems to be taking particular care to be inclusive on more than just a surface level. The first season introduced principal characters of color to the franchise for the first time but took heavy fire for what critics perceived as racial and queer tokenism. This season, it appears that at least some of the Black characters’ story lines are being written with a bit more awareness about the challenges specific to many Black Americans. In one example, Herbert and Lisa frantically fix their daughter’s hair in hopes of meeting the antiquated ideals of Herbert’s mother; in another, Herbert is ignored by successive taxis and is reprimanded by his mother for playing into an “angry Black man” stereotype. It remains to be seen how thoughtfully the show will navigate these issues in future episodes, but the shift so far signals at least an attempt to course-correct after the missteps of Season 1.