AJLT’s Most Controversial Moments, Broken Down By The Writers
Writers Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky go deep on everything from that infamous kitchen scene to their reaction to the Che Diaz hate.
Spoilers ahead for the Season 1 finale of And Just Like That.
After a season of high highs (yelling about “nonbinary sex” in the park) and low lows (soaking the bed with a Snapple bottle full of urine), And Just Like That has come to an end. The Season 1 finale finds the gals in various states of disarray, all dealing with disparate situations yet somehow closer than ever.
The episode opens with Charlotte (Kristin Davis) in a frenzy, trying to ensure that Rock’s They-Mitzvah goes perfectly (Hari Nef has a fabulous cameo as a trans rabbi). At the party, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) reveals to Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Charlotte that she’s turning down her human rights internship to move to Los Angeles while Che films a TV pilot there. She came to this decision despite the fact that Che bombarded her with the news via a live public performance of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” but hey, at least it wasn’t another comedy concert.
Afterward, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) goes to Paris to scatter Big’s ashes in a huge ball gown. While there, she works up the courage to text Samantha, who agrees to get a cocktail (your move, Kim Cattrall). Back at home, she finds a spark with an unexpected new guy following a lackluster kiss with the widowed teacher (Jon Tenney).
Amid the emotional rollercoaster that was And Just Like That, the finale feels closest in tone to the original Sex and the City series, with the promise of love and the women arguing in a fancy bathroom like it’s 2003. At times, the reboot felt like a fever dream filled with colorful outfits but lacking in some of the joy that made the original such a pleasure to watch. With the women now in their 50s and navigating big issues like death, divorce, and starting over, the vibe was simply heavier.
And Just Like That was also not without controversy, with fans demanding #JusticeforSteve after his sad sack treatment and uniting in their unanimous hatred of Che Diaz. Below, AJLT writers Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky, who worked on both the reboot and the original series, break down the finale and some of the show’s most polarizing moments, from that infamous kitchen-fingering scene to the inspiration behind Che. As for the rumors about Season 2? “Not a minute past what you saw [in the finale] has been written,” Rottenberg says. “We intentionally left it very open-ended.”
Miranda talks to Carrie about how much she’s changed in the final episode, and many people have expressed online that Miranda feels like a totally different person than the one we met in SATC. What’s your response to that?
Julie Rottenberg: First, I would say, to us, she still felt very much like Miranda. Miranda was always a rebel. She was always pushing back against societal constraints. The fact that she wound up getting married and having a baby, if anything that was the aberration. What we really wanted to explore this season is Miranda in a state we've never seen her in before: completely knocked off her ass in love. Just out of control, really head over heels, the script is gone, the rules are gone. She's just following her heart. And we embraced that and we felt like she's still her, but she's having her own struggle. I feel like the audience's struggle with Miranda not feeling like Miranda is the struggle she’s having herself.
Elisa Zuritsky: The B-side of Miranda floating away in passion was only possible because we, as writers, were interested and believed that Miranda would have gone through a lot in the last decade and through the pandemic. These characters are obviously fictional, but they're metaphors for people in our lives, and a lot of people went through a lot of shit in the past six years. There was a lot of time to reflect, to over-drink, over-eat, over-everything. We embraced the idea that she would be ripe for reinvention, that she would be ripe for a midlife crisis. Obviously, it struck everyone in a different way.
With Miranda now moving to LA with Che, do you think they’re doomed or do you think they have potential as a couple?
Rottenberg: It depends on who you ask, either they are scared shitless for Miranda and are like, "This is going to be a disaster” or they’re like…
Zuritsky: Maybe it will be good for her? The writers had really lively conversations and arguments, even right up to filming that final episode. For a while, Miranda was not going to go to LA, and we felt good about that. Then we actually second-guessed it and started really thinking about the real Miranda. The viewers might want her to say, "No, I'm a New Yorker." But if Miranda were a real person, she probably would jump off that diving board because she's already to the end, you know? She has a clear path in front of her, and her son is going away for the summer and she's done the hard work of getting out of her static marriage.
“I feel like the audience's struggle with Miranda not feeling like Miranda is the struggle she’s having herself.”
Rottenberg: We went back and forth about it. Because it did feel like, "All right … she's going to have her Norma Rae reclaiming her independence speech at the end of this.” In some ways, I think that would've been probably the more expected thing for us to do. So [her going to LA] felt like the more radical choice.
Tell me more about these arguments and lively conversations about Miranda and Che. What did it look like at the start of the writers' room, going from their first flirtation to Miranda risking it all for this person?
Zuritsky: The writers' room started in January 2021, and cameras didn't roll until July. So for a long while, Che was just this idea, and we were all sort of building them together. And then we started filming the first few episodes and there is Sara Ramirez playing Che, and there are the two of them building this spark that we hoped would be there. I remember when we were filming the first shotgun scene I couldn't believe how intense that moment was. It was really cool to see that spark actually come to life.
Rottenberg: We loved them together. And maybe it's because we were already used to the idea of breaking up Miranda's marriage, but we were taken really off guard by the total despair and rage [from fans] about that marriage crumbling and Steve in particular. I think people just didn't want to see it happen.
What did Che's inception look like?
Rottenberg: We hadn't cast the part when we dreamed the character up, but we had a dream and that was Sara Ramirez. They were our model, but we didn't know if we could possibly make that happen. But once it was a reality, we really leaned into Sara's life story and pulled a lot from that. And Sara was happy to share. So quite a bit of what you hear in Che's stand-up in Episode 3, that comes right out of Sara's life as coming out as non-binary and queer to their family.
Zuritsky: Before we knew it was going to be Sara, we had a lot of conversations. We knew that we wanted the power dynamic to be different from Miranda and Steve. We knew that we wanted to see Miranda in a more submissive role, in a more vulnerable place than we've ever seen her. And we knew that we wanted Che to be calling the shots a little bit. We liked the idea of seeing what Miranda would be like in that scenario. But we also really liked the idea that Che was going to be really honest, always, about who they were and what they'd been through and that Che would put what most people would find embarrassing out there on stage.
Did you expect the overwhelming animosity toward Che?
Zuritsky: Not at all. But I will say, thinking about it, it's a very new character to be in the center of a love triangle on [an established] television show. There must be a lot of discomfort with that and with discomfort comes embarrassment, and with embarrassment can sometimes come humor and mocking. I think it's one way that, as a culture, we are dealing with things that make us uncomfortable. So I think that might be at play.
Let’s talk about the infamous kitchen-fingering scene. Can you tell me how that came together?
Rottenberg: It's beautifully written, very specific, very detailed. And I bet Samantha Irby [who wrote the episode] did not even break a sweat writing it, because it feels effortless. Our joke was that Samantha, who lives in Michigan, we were like, "You have to be on set that day, you realize we need you there." And she was like, “Uh-huh, sure, I'll be there." She hates New York. And then she was not there, and we'll never let her live it down. You left us alone with that script page.
Zuritsky: We wanted it to be messy, for sure. The intention was that it would be sort of clumsy and weird. I feel like Che knows exactly what they're doing. And if there hadn't been someone in the other room trying to sleep and then trying to pee, it could have been a really sexy scene on its own. But juxtaposed with that, it's the height of comedy and sexiness and uncomfortableness.
At the end of the show, we see Carrie kissing her podcast producer in the elevator, which feels out of nowhere after things didn't work out with her and that teacher. Why did it feel like the right next step for her?
Rottenberg: We wanted to sort of bookend that kiss at the beginning of the episode, where she and Peter kiss [and there’s no spark] and contrast that with this kiss at the end. We like the idea that Carrie herself doesn't know what's coming next for her in her love life, and that sometimes those things can come out of the blue. Who knows what happens in that elevator or after they get off the elevator. But we liked leaving it on that, the actual ellipses of “And Just Like That…” and not finishing the sentence.
Zuritsky: We wrestled a lot with the urge to see Carrie Bradshaw dating again and the responsibility we felt to honor her grieving process. A big part of our process was to balance the dark and light in her story, knowing that the fans and we, to a certain extent as fans ourselves, would love to see Carrie dating and exploring love. But grieving a spouse who was the love of your life is not going to be necessarily on our timetable of viewing.
Charlotte has had such a journey as a mother over the course of this season. What lessons have her kids taught her?
Zuritsky: I feel like Charlotte's journey as a mother really is in some ways a continuation of her journey as a character, as a single woman on Sex and the City. Charlotte has always wrestled with the idea of perfection and the idea of the right way of doing things. And I'll speak for myself as a mother, I feel like nothing [tests that need for perfection] as much as motherhood. So for Charlotte, it was such a joy to be able to explore ways that these two very different kids could challenge and humble the idea that there’s any right way of doing anything. To see her finally realize at the end, at Rock's They-Mitzvah, that she's got to let that all go and just be in the moment for herself and that's the best that she can do felt really fulfilling to write and execute.