And Just Like That Is Finally (Maybe) Fixing Its Miranda Problem

6 minute read

“The law firm seems like 100 years ago,” Carrie muses to Miranda in the most recent episode of And Just Like That. It might just be the truest thing Carrie Bradshaw has ever said, Sex and the City canon included. Throughout the six seasons and two major motion pictures that constituted the franchise’s original run, Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda Hobbes was defined by her career as a powerful corporate lawyer. But Miranda the AJLT character has barely resembled the fire-haired ambition monster SATC fans knew and, for the most part, loved. Until, hopefully, now. 

For the first time in nearly two seasons, Miranda is back in the workplace. As she giddily announces to Carrie, she has an internship with Human Rights Watch. Yes, she’s starting at the bottom. This is, after all, her first job since stepping down as partner in that dimly remembered law firm—because, she explains in the AJLT premiere, “I couldn’t be a part of the problem anymore.” But by the end of this week’s episode, the hypercompetent Miranda has already been tapped to cover her extremely pregnant supervisor’s maternity leave. Which would be excellent news if she wasn’t painfully aware that her much-younger fellow interns are already texting each other behind her back about her privilege and the opportunities she’s snatching out from under them. It’s a perfect latter-day Miranda story line, and one that arrives not a moment too soon.

Cynthia Nixon in And Just Like ThatCraig Blankenhorn—Max

As much as it pains me to admit it, AJLT has been a much better show in its second season than it was in its first, back when everyone was still pretending it was going to be a limited series. Following the tragicomic Peloton death of her husband John James “Mr. Big” Preston (and multiple sexual assault accusations against the actor who played him, Chris Noth, who has denied the allegations), the once-vivacious Carrie spent Season 1 in a fog of grief that overwhelmed what had always been a lighthearted franchise. Meanwhile, prissy Charlotte had aged into a full-on scold, bragging about her delayed perimenopause, nagging her friends about their life choices, and all but smothering her teenage children. And between Big’s abrupt exit, Kim Cattrall’s refusal to reprise the key role of Samantha Jones, and the death, midway through production, of Willie Garson, who played Carrie’s dear friend Stanford Blatch, the season felt more defined by its glaring absences than by what was actually happening on screen.

But Season 2 has brought a welcome return to SATC’s funnier, frothier form. It’s been a relief to see Carrie diving into the dating pool again, even if her all-consuming new relationship with Aidan—not to mention this week’s ahistorical dithering over whether Big was a mistake—feels a bit hasty. Showrunner Michael Patrick King and Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte, have started leaning into the character’s ridiculousness. Now she makes for great comic relief, stressing out over the placement of a belt for her first day back on the job at an art gallery and dressing up as a hilariously weak facsimile of Keri Russell in The Americans for a costume party. The diverse new friends who were so transparently cast to address critiques of the franchise’s whiteness, like Sarita Choudhury’s Seema and Nicole Ari Parker’s Lisa, are finally more than just sidekicks.

From left: Nicole Ari Parker, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Karen Pittman in And Just Like ThatCraig Blankenhorn—Max

That leaves poor, old Miranda as the weakest link. As others have noted, AJLT ruined the show’s only down-to-earth character by sending her on a nonsensical romantic odyssey that entailed callously dumping her husband of two decades, Steve, in order to discover new facets of her sexuality with Carrie’s nonbinary, comedian boss, Che Diaz. Much—including many memes—has been made of Che’s self-evident ridiculousness; Brock Colyar of The Cut memorably described the character as “a social-justice-warrior scold with a podcast and a cannabis habit” who is “there to teach the well-maintained, well-meaning, nearly 60-year-old ladies about ‘compulsory heterosexuality,’ pronounspeak, and using dialogue as a verb.” We even had to sit through a dire meta plot a few episodes back in which Che Diaz’s TV pilot got shelved after Che Diaz’s portrayal of a protagonist based on Che Diaz irritated a focus group.

More bewildering than Che’s existence was the sudden, 180-degree personality shift Miranda underwent when the pair started dating. Her studies at Columbia, toward a master’s in human rights law, faded into the background, along with Steve and their college-bound son Brady. She became Che’s 24/7 cheering section, obsessing over their sexual prowess and, at the end of season 1, moving across the country to L.A. to support their career. Her highlights in early episodes of the current season included fumbling with a strap-on and her inability to enjoy an impromptu threesome with the male ex to whom Che is still technically married. (King sure does seem to like humiliating poor Miranda.) In the broadest possible sense, the events of the show echoed the real life of Nixon, who divorced her then-husband late in SATC’s run and began dating her now-wife, Christine Marinoni. But she also ran for governor of New York in 2018, and that might have made a bit more sense as an AJLT pivot for a woman of Miranda’s caliber.

Cynthia Nixon, left, and Sara Ramírez in And Just Like ThatCraig Blankenhorn—Max

Now, at long last, Miranda and Che, a couple that never seemed especially compatible outside of the bedroom, have broken up (although a scene from this week’s episode, in which Carrie preaches to Che about second chances, has me worried they’re going to reunite in the finale). Which leaves Miranda free, for the time being, to reestablish her ruthless independence. The first few internship scenes offered a glorious glimpse of the old, sharp-tongued, Type A Miranda, whose pioneering heteropessimism once balanced out the giddy romantic misadventures of her three best girlfriends. “I guess you’re just perfect, Miranda,” a fellow intern sarcastically coos when she dares to alert the younger, less experienced woman to an error she’s made. “Actually,” Miranda snaps, “I’m a sexually confused alcoholic who’s in the midst of a divorce.” 

It’s easily her best AJLT line to date. Now this is the woman who once responded to a bended-knee marriage proposal by exclaiming: “What are you, f-ckin’ crazy?” And Just Like That could easily send her back down the Che Diaz rabbit hole, or worse, next week. But that’s all the more reason to celebrate the return of Miranda Hobbes, Esq. Long may she reign!  

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