This article features a major plot development in the first episode of “And Just Like That,” the reboot series of “Sex and the City,” on HBO Max
Fans of “Sex and the City” may be in for a shock when faced with the death of Mr. Big by Chris Noth at the end of the first episode of “And Just Like That”.
But killing Big – the source of so much romantic sadness for Sarah Jessica ParkerCarrie Bradshaw for six seasons of the original HBO show – was producer Michael Patrick King’s executive plan from the start. It was the only way, as King said, to “play with darkness and light.”
The new 10-episode series – which released its first two episodes on December 9 on HBO Max and will release new episodes every Thursday – reconnects with Carrie, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis ) more than two decades after the series ended – and a decade after the second of the two films was cut. Of course, Kim Cattrall refused to reprise her role of Samantha Jones, apparently because of a rift with Parker.
The series’ new course will correct the original’s lack of diversity by introducing four new characters, all of whom are actors of color. Sara Ramirez plays an extraordinary comedian and Carrie’s boss on her podcast, Nicole Ari Parker is a Charlotte private school mom desperate to make friends, Karen Pittman plays a human rights professor of Columbia University, with whom Miranda had a series of awkward encounters. And Sarita Choudhury brilliantly plays an intrepid real estate agent, and a character clearly written to fill the Samantha void.
“The world has changed,” said King, who wrote and directed the first two episodes. “Where is society now compared to when they were 35 years old? What are you saying now compared to what you were talking about 20 years ago? We are reflecting a new reality. And the way to do that is to add enough new elements to represent the change or represent things that are out of frame in another program.”
King spoke to WWD about Kim Cattrall, the death of Willie Garson (who played Carrie’s friend at Stanford), that Peloton scene, and the (negative) reviews.
WWD: Tell me about the pressure of relaunching a show that was so groundbreaking at the time, and has such a passionate fanbase right now. Have you ever thought, why are we doing this?
Michael Patrick King: You know, there’s this thing called creative amnesia when you have a good idea, or what you think is a good idea. Even if it’s a good idea, it has to be seen in the eyes of others. But the whole idea of how people will react to it disappears because what you have in front of you is the beast of a story and character. I know that Mr. Big is going to die, and Carrie Bradshaw, the single girl [chasing] after that huge quest to find love, will be single again at 55. Now we can tell stories because we already have relationships with these people. Isn’t it just a story about you dyeing your hair or going gray? Miranda is gray and her challenger completely molts and dyes Charlotte. So it becomes less of an polemic, more of a personal story.
WWD: TV, as a medium, isn’t necessarily friendly to middle-aged women. Do you think you could have made a TV series about women facing aging if it weren’t for these women?
MPK: Is not. You can, but it won’t have an impact.
WWD: But will it get the green light?
MPK: Person in charge [at HBO Max and WarnerMedia] were hesitant because the franchise meant so much to them. And the great thing about HBO has always been that they are so innovative. So the first railing is, it’s too important to risk and we’re not interested in restarting. And I was like, me too, restarting sounds like running again, sounds like warming up. I have no interest in anything with [the letters] again. But when I said, Big died and Carrie was single at 55. They told me.
WWD: Peloton issued a lengthy statement about Big’s “luxury lifestyle” as the cause of his death, not his 1,000th ride on their $2,000 bike.
MPK: Big died of heart disease. He died because it was his time. To do a series, that’s why he died. He’s on Peloton because he’s present and strong – and trying to stay healthy. He died so that Carrie could ride the roller coaster that hopefully we can all enjoy. Why television now? The world is very complicated. People aren’t used to anything simple, are they? And as much as people think they want the old show, meaning the familiar show, they don’t.
WWD: Samantha’s absence is explained in a way that mimics the real-life feud between Parker and Cattrall. Is that intentional?
MPK: Everything in this show reflects a reality. The failure of Samantha and Carrie mirrors the failures other writers in the room have had. And they’re usually about crossovers, professional, personal. And sometimes they are about money, friendship and money. So the plot really stops there as Kim decides she doesn’t want to play Samantha anymore. And I, out of respect for the audience and my love for Samantha, don’t want to kill Samantha. Why can’t she move to London and have a great life? So what should we do? How do we reflect the reality of what the audience is feeling? Like, what a shame! So let’s include it in the program. Carrie said, “What a shame.” And I also don’t want to leave everyone in a murky forest of death. I don’t want to break up with my friends if they want to be together mentally. So it was a huge thrill for us when we realized, oh, yeah, people don’t even talk anymore. They text. So Samantha can live and text. They’re 55 years old, they pick up the phone and call. But Carrie and Samantha were in a place where it was a little more shaky, a little gentler. So they’re texting. It almost feels like a sweet breakup.
WWD: It’s obviously heartbreaking to lose Willie Garson in real life. That must be very difficult to write into the plot.
MPK: It was a surprise. The first six scripts were written. The first three episodes were filmed. Willie thinks he can go on longer. But then he took a worse turn. Can you imagine we’re filming [Big’s] funeral with Willie when he learns that he is ill. And yet, he’s hilarious and turns it on, funny and full of energy and light and makes jokes about how much Carrie is our Jackie Kennedy. I mean, it’s crazy. It was really, really a shock. And all of us, Willie included, did our best to keep going. And it’s a miracle he’s still alive on the show.
WWD: How do you feel about the reviews?
MPK: I’m having a power outage. I’m happy. I know what I did. And me and Sarah Jessica, Cynthia and Kristin all wanted to do this. We’ve seen two episodes, haven’t we? “Sex and the City” was released for six years. And if you watched the first two episodes of “Sex and the City”, you go, what is it?! That’s what everyone did. So I’m trying to be present in the moment. These days no one is watching. Everyone has an opinion. It’s strong. It cannot. It’s leftovers. So you don’t like the meal? Sorry [shrugs]. It’s our party.
https://wwd.com/business-news/media/and-just-like-that-michael-patrick-king-kim-cattrall-big-deat-willie-garson-1235016331/ ‘And Just Like That”s Michael Patrick King on Kim Cattrall, Death, Willie Garson – WWD