This article contains spoilers.
"And Just like That" has haunted me since I watched the first two episodes last Thursday. I’m a fan of the series and a foe of the 2 movies. I wasn’t watching as a fan and I didn't set out to hate watch. I succumbed to the hype: the trailers, the gossip and the footage of the cast filming on the streets of New York. I love pop culture and the conversation that ensues around pop culture. I knew it would be the topic du jour for the next few weeks.
In the new series there are attempts to make up for the glaring lack of diversity in the original. Unfortunately many of those attempts were unsuccessful.
I couldn’t help but wonder how I'd address diversity if I were the antiracism consultant in the writers' room.
Here's what I'd suggest:
Start in the middle: Have Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie be in established relationships with women of color. Let them be comfortable and already worthy of their trust. We don't need to see them try to earn it. Spare women of color from having to vicariously endure the harm. ("Start in the middle" is good writing and storytelling advice in general. You're welcome.)
Miranda should be part of the solution: So far Miranda is competing for "Most Karen of all the Karens". What if Miranda was racially fluent and understand the notion of intention vs. impact? What if she didn't ask Nya's opinion on whether she was being a white savior? Maybe she could do that inventory with her White besties over lunch? How about some ownership and accountability? Make Miranda's awareness and antiracist values as aspirational as Carrie's Malono Blahniks.
Don’t make Lily a perfect pianist: Charlotte's Chinese daughter is a child prodigy. She plays a virtuosic piano solo at a amateur piano recital. Everyone marvels. She dresses and acts like a mini Charlotte. Could she be a drummer? Could she hate playing piano? It's clear that Charlotte's other child Rose is gender fluid. They don't want to wear a dress and in later episodes they say they don't like when Charlotte calls them a girl. What if Lily was gender fluid? I haven't seen a Chinese child portrayed in that light. Subvert our expectations.
Don’t associate Lily with Big: Fans are associating Lily with Big's death. They have pointed out that Lily kept Carrie and Big apart in the first movie. She hid Carries's phone and that was the reason she didn't get Big's voicemail on their "wedding day". Big dies while Carrie is at Lilly's recital. Charlotte insisted that she attend and Carrie delayed a trip with Mr. Big so she could. Therefore Big was home alone. Carrie catches him in his last few moments when she returns. Yes, she should have called 911. IT'S CARRIE'S FAULT NOT LILY'S. The writers inadvertently made a person of color the scapegoat.
Atone for sins of the past: Turns out the original and the movies don't hold up. There's the lack of diversity, transphobia, homophobia and racism to boot. The only way to address those failings is to confront them. It's been 11 years. Have the women talk about it with all their usual banter. Make them self aware. Create new characters who are more than a reflection of best intentions. Seriously, if Miranda is going to continue engaging in her "Karen campaign" make her go viral and pay the price. Twice.
Once upon a time the characters from Sex and the City were aspirational. Women who loved the show found qualities they could relate to and desired. Currently the characters are women to be avoided who potentially cause harm. They haven't learned anything about the world around them. They haven't grown.
And just like that, it's sad.