This article includes discussions about the Season 1 finale of And Just Like That…
I have a confession to make.
Charlotte York MacDougal Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis) was always my least favorite character on Sex and the City.
Charlotte—as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) so aptly put it in a recent episode—was always so smug. Prim and proper, she cared deeply about things I never did like designer clothes, getting into the right country club, and social status.
I always had much more in common with Carrie and Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda (and I obviously mean OG Miranda, not whatever Freaky Friday Miranda-possessed demon is part of And Just Like That). But something funny has happened on my way watching And Just Like That: I think I may actually like Charlotte. Like, like like her.
Charlotte is the only one in this utterly disastrous reboot (whose offenses are too numerous to name here) to remain on brand. She is, in so many ways, the same character we knew back in her Sex and the City days. In the premiere, she is buying an expensive Oscar de la Renta dress for her daughter (“Please put this dress on. I want us all in florals.”), anxious to make friends with the right mom at her children’s swanky private school, encouraging Miranda to dye her gray hair, and strong arming her friends to attend her daughter’s piano recital—a decision she soon regrets once Big (Chris Noth) dies. (And again, on-brand Charlotte somehow makes Big’s death all about her because she feels so guilty). That is the Charlotte I knew and decidedly did not love.
But what I’ve come to genuinely appreciate in And Just Like That is how Charlotte has evolved and matured while remaining, at heart, true to herself. That’s what growing up is really all about. You don’t become a completely different person. But as life goes on you learn from the mistakes, let some stuff go, and realize that people are who they are and you cannot change them.
The best example of Charlotte 2.0 comes with Charlotte’s daughter Rose (Alexa Swinton). When we first meet the now preteen Rose, she is rejecting her mom’s notion that she wear a fancy dress and not skateboard through their apartment. By the fifth episode, Harry (Evan Handler) and Charlotte learn that everyone at school is calling Rose “Rock.” They don’t quite know what to make of this. Does Rock want to be a boy? Is Rock nonbinary? Is this a phase? Rock’s parents are more upset that they didn’t know Rock changed their name (though Rock did tell them via a TikTok video) than the actual decision. And, like most parents, Charlotte and Harry are just trying to better understand their child. “We are not resistant,” Charlotte tells the school counselor. “According to my reading there’s a wide range in this type of exploration. We are just trying to figure out how seriously we should take this.” Charlotte embraces Rock’s decision and even plans an extravagant “they-mitzvah.” When Rock balks at the idea of participating at the last minute, Charlotte is furious. “I did not come all this way and do all this work to have it end like this,” she fumes as 300 guests are waiting. But instead of forcing Rock to participate, Charlotte is the one who takes part in the sacred ceremony.
Further, in one of the few storylines to actually address sex in this Sex and the City revival, Charlotte wants to be open with her children about discussing sexuality. When Lily (Cathy Ang) walks in on Charlotte giving Harry a blow job (yes, she still blows Harry), Charlotte panics and slams the door in her daughter’s face and then lies and says she was checking Harry for cancer. She’s then devastated that this is her reaction. “I have this whole parenting philosophy where I want to normalize sex so my kids will never feel weird about it the way I did growing up,” she laments. When she finds Lily posting somewhat suggestive photos on Instagram, she again panics. But later is able to talk to her daughter honestly. “I love that you feel comfortable in your body and I am not trying to shame you. I was just surprised that you were expressing that side of yourself already… I just can’t help feeling protective.” While Miranda’s son Brady is a one-dimensional character (sullen teen who has nonstop sex with his girlfriend) who Miranda seems to have no relationship with, Charlotte’s relationship with her children is layered and nuanced.
Charlotte also learned over the course of the original series that following a strict set of rules about dating and sex doesn’t necessarily lead to a happy relationship (see Trey MacDougal), and that there is much more to life than finding the “right” partner. In And Just Like That, Charlotte and Harry are also the only couple on the show in a happy, fulfilling relationship where they not only still love each other but are still attracted to each other.
As such, Charlotte is rightfully upset about Miranda’s affair with Che (Sara Ramirez) but she’s mature enough to try to not judge—still, she’s the only one to put a name to what is happening. “It is an affair. That’s what it is!” she exclaims. When Miranda pushes back on her, she says, “It’s not judgement. It’s surprise. Am I not allowed to be surprised?” I’d like to think Charlotte is still not thrilled with the fact that Miranda so carelessly and casually cheated on her husband and tossed him aside. But Charlotte also realizes that her friend has to make her own choices. “I guess you know what you’re doing… It’s your life. What do I know about how you should handle it?” she tells her. There’s been so much talk about how friendships evolve as you age (most of it to justify Samantha’s absence in this reboot), but this is the most authentic take: being mature enough to realize you have to allow your friends to make their own decisions, even if you think those decisions may be a mistake.
Yet, remaining true to the Charlotte we always have known, she is still delighted that Miranda is going to meet Che’s family. “That’s a good sign! Things are moving forward,” she says optimistically, referring back to her old dating rules. “I love that you are still that girl,” Carrie tells her. And, much to my surprise, I kind of do, too.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer and a member of the Television Critics Association. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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