Someone needs to smack the writers of And Just Like That, the Sex and the City reboot, with a dose of reality. The entire Internet hates what they’ve done to longtime couple Miranda Hobbes and Steve Brady. (We also hate everything else about this show but there’s too much to mention here. You can read my other reviews here and here.) For some reason, the writers thought that breaking up this couple who made it through an unplanned pregnancy, infidelity, and more would be exciting for the viewers. But turning Miranda, a clearly heterosexual woman, into a non-binary attracted lesbian did not have the effect they were expecting. Instead, an entire community of “hate-watchers” popped up on YouTube where the original SATC audience is having group therapy every week to cope with the mess the writers have made.
But the deeper issue that is making blood boil across the fanbase is the absolute disregard for long-term marriage that the writers are pushing on the audience. We are supposed to believe that Miranda’s marriage is stale, boring, sexless, and dead because they spend their time sharing dessert on the couch while Netflix-and-chilling.
Am I the only one who thinks, “What else are 55-year-old people supposed to be doing on a Tuesday night during a pandemic?” I’ve been married 21 years and every night Mr. Fox or I make dinner (we take turns) and then we wrangle the children into helping with clean up. After that, we make sure homework is done and Mr. Fox puts the little one to bed. I spend time with the middle child and usually watch an episode of Smallville with her before she goes to bed. Then the mister and I will meet in the living room for a glass of wine or maybe a beer where we cozy up under a blanket to watch an episode of a favorite show. Frankly, it’s my favorite part of the day. On Fridays, we make Chicago-style pizza and watch whatever new episode of the Star Wars franchise is streaming with the kids. We think this is a lot of fun for wintertime activities. During the summer we have fires outside, we kayak, and we go out for live music and beer about once a week. I polled my coworkers who have been in long-term marriages to get an idea of their nightly routines.
Stacey Lennox and her husband are getting a jump on spring cleaning. “We are in the midst of a purge after living on this house for 10 years, so I make dinner, and then we are rearranging or cleaning something after dinner,” she said. “If the weather is nice we light up the fire pit, listen to music and talk after we eat.”
Our esteemed managing editor Paula Bolyard and her husband are killing it at Crossfit every night. “We got to Crossfit, come home and have dinner and then read or watch TV,” she said. They also head to church every Wednesday night together. Currently, they’re in some tropical island paradise having their yearly winter vacation and making all of us super jealous. I’m expecting kayaking photos that are going to make me drool. In the summer, Paula and her husband also do a lot of kayaking in Ohio tributaries.
Gwendolyn Sims has been married to her husband for 33 years. “We are newly empty nesters as of two weeks ago. I start dinner around 5 or 6 (unless I’m lazy and we order in),” she said. “We eat dinner, talk about our days (my husband is still pandemic working from home and I don’t talk to him unless it’s an emergency). We then watch Netflix or football or something together or apart depending. We each head to bed whenever we want.”
Athena Thorne and her husband are empty-nesters now too. She says most nights they stay in and cook supper, have a fire in the fireplace, clean up the kitchen, and watch TV while they surf on their phones. “In summer, we pick up supper after work and go out on the boat. We eat, drink, swim and fish,” Athena said before adding, “We are almost never productive like the Lennoxes after dinner.” Well, who is?
These routines sound like marital bliss to me. But the writers of And Just Like That are disdainful of normal married life. During one of the writer’s podcasts — which seem to have no other purpose than for AJLT writers to pat each other on the back — one of them says the pandemic has been a “come to Jesus” moment for couples asking “is this the rest of my life? Is this what I choose?” Why this person would invoke Jesus to justify divorce is something that should be considered when contemplating what the hell is wrong with this show and everyone involved in it. She continued to claim that 90% of married couples identify with their depiction of what marriage is, whittled down to nightly boring routines. “I wonder how many people will own that they might aspire to stray from their marriages.” Who aspires to that? But I think this conversation proves that they were actually trying to provoke their audience to question their marriages! In the process, they simply made all of us married folks mad that our lives are being demeaned as “not enough” or something from which to escape.
During one particularly grating scene, Miranda complains, “I want more!” More what? Excitement? At 55? Then get a hobby. Take up skydiving. You don’t go get fingered in your friend’s kitchen by a non-binary pothead podcaster while you’re supposed to be caring for your friend after her surgery! You don’t blow up your marriage, you take an art class or learn the high-flying trapeze.
What’s extremely maddening about this story arc is the fact that all six seasons of Sex and the City were based around four friends finding that person to sit on the couch with. … for the rest of their lives! And now that Miranda has that, she’s suddenly miserable. That’s the damaging message that I categorically reject and so should all people who believe in marriage. Marriage isn’t exciting. It’s not supposed to be. It’s a choice to build a life with someone. It takes time and sacrifice and tears and work to build something worth having in your golden years. And when you finally have it, and can come home every night to your friend and lover who built it with you, and there’s a sense of comfort and ease. That’s not boring. It’s what every 20-year-old is desperate to find.
And those 20-year-olds are having very “exciting” dating lives that include finding out he cheated, paying way too much for liquor in bars, getting an STD, getting broken up with over text messaging, stewing in anxiety because he hasn’t called, etc. All of that is terribly exciting … and also just terrible. None of those people in that exciting situation actually want that kind of excitement. They’re all trying to get what we have: normal, secure, mature relationships. And since we’ve been through it, and consequently feel like we made it onto the last chopper out of ‘Nam before dating apps were the norm, we know what it is that they’re after: stability. Someone to come home to and cuddle under blankets with while you Netflix-and-chill.
Steve Brady isn’t some wife abuser from whom Miranda would be justified in escaping. He’s kind and thoughtful and handy with tools and good-looking. He’s a catch. It’s irresponsible for writers to imply that you could have the perfect husband and still be unhappy and need to blow up your marriage in order to find true happiness and if you do that it should just work out for you without consequences. What a terrible message. I say, if you have a husband like Steve and you’re unhappy, it’s you. It’s not him. And leaving him won’t change you into someone who is more content or a better partner.
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If you look to your spouse to “complete” you, as the Jerry Maguire movie insists is the definition of love, you won’t be happy. No other person can make you happy. That’s something that must come from within. The apostle Paul famously wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Paul instructs one to look to God, to look within, and to tend to your spiritual health in order to find contentment. In doing so he managed to be happy despite being imprisoned. Russian political prisoner Aleksei Navalny was interviewed for the first time from a Russian prison and talked about finding happiness through cooking. “When we cook, I always remember the classic scene from ‘Goodfellas’ when the mafia bosses cook pasta in a prison cell,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have such a cool pot, and pasta is forbidden. Still, it’s fun.”
There are countless examples of people across history who were able to find contentment in the worst of situations, but we are to believe that a cozy home in Brooklyn with a well-appointed dessert tray and an endless supply of streaming options with the handsome father of her child is a bridge too far for Miranda Hobbes. This, we are told, is boring and dead. Miranda must turn gay and get a divorce to escape this oppression. It’s the only way out!
Most married folks I know who have lasted the test of time do not feel the need to jump ship. Most of us are happily taking on the day together, sharing funny memes, discussing the latest adventures of our kids, complaining about the broken appliances, or laughing at the dog’s antics. We are not looking for ways to escape because it’s a tough world out there and we made the well-reasoned good choice to brave it together. That reality could have been mined for plenty of material for writers to explore.
For instance, Miranda and Steve’s son Brady is a real problem child. Does that kid have a job? Why does he have so much time to have sex with his girlfriend at 17? Doesn’t he have exams? And he really should be in a sport. He’s so thin he looks underfed. The writers missed the opportunity to fix Brady’s character problem by having Miranda and Steve enroll him in swimming for three hours a day so he could cool off and build some muscle above the waist. If they had wanted a transgender storyline, they could have had a transman beat Brady in swimming and shame him into trying to improve. That would have been hilarious and timely. Instead, the writers chose to show us a minor banging his girlfriend at every opportunity in his parent’s house while they listen! If there was ever a reason for divorce here, it should have been that no one in this marriage is stopping their son from impregnating a minor!
But the reasons we did get for the demise of Miranda’s and Steve’s marriage do not pass muster. No one, except the terminally stupid, gives up on marriage because there’s ice cream every night instead of a crowded, pot-smoke-filled “comedy concert” with scores of tattooed and pierced social rejects. Don’t buy it. Marriage is good and worth holding onto, especially in these uncertain and unstable times. Don’t let Hollywood convince you otherwise.