Forget Aidan. And Just Like That... Needs Berger

If there’s one ex-boyfriend who deserves a comeback, it’s Jack Berger.

Jack Berger (Ron Livingston) deserves a comeback on 'And Just Like That.'
Photograph by HBO; Art by Margaret Flatley/Bustle

The coverage of Aidan returning to the Sex and the City universe has been met with almost universal breathless excitement. “Are Aidan and Carrie Endgame?” asked Us Weekly. Vogue covered their reunion like it was George and Amal Clooney’s wedding. I realize how I’m supposed to feel seeing Aidan and Carrie back together after all these years — nostalgia is comforting, and John Corbett is cute. But for me, seeing Aidan on And Just Like That… felt like watching a trailer for a horror movie sequel. Don’t go back into that creepy haunted house with an evil nun puppet you can’t remove! Didn’t you learn your lesson last time?!

But I understand that AJLT is nothing if not in the nostalgia game, and so, if the show is bringing back ex-boyfriends, I offer a simple alternative. A better alternative: Bring back Berger.

Jack Berger (Ron Livingston), an up-and-coming novelist who, yes, broke up with Carrie on a Post-it Note, is rightfully reviled by SATC fans, but allow me to make my case.

When Berger was dating Carrie in Season 6, it was a low and vulnerable time in his life. He had just broken up with a long-term girlfriend, and sales for his new novel were so bad that his publisher fired his editor and dropped his second book option. He was floundering! And he was embarrassed to admit it to his incredibly cool, incredibly successful new girlfriend.

Then, a nightmare — the thing that, as a novelist, I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about: Berger sends Carrie a copy of his novel, and literally in her second sentence to him after she reads it — before she even takes a breath! — she points out an innocuous mistake he made: A Manhattan woman would never galavant around town wearing a scrunchie.

Dagger wound! The book is already published, Carrie! He is sensitive and vulnerable! That is not the moment for a critique! To her credit, Carrie is apologetic and fully recognizes that she shouldn’t have given a note on a book that is already in print. But it’s too late; Berger is wounded, and his pride doesn’t recover. From that episode on, it’s a steep decline for Berger, whose character takes a pretty immediate descent into mustache-twirling territory. He tells Carrie he needs a break, comes back with flowers, then leaves unceremoniously with the now-infamous Post-it Note in the morning.


It’s bad, I agree. And it’s a shame because Carrie and Berger’s beginning was so promising. They had great chemistry and even better banter. (“I’m a candy man. Sammy Davis ripped me off.” “Sammy Davis? You don’t feel the need to use the junior?” “Nope.” Funny!) The sex got off to a slow start, but they got there, and even then, I’d say that’s a huge point in Berger’s favor. He knew they had a problem and he was able to communicate through it. (He brought salt and pepper shakers to the bed to pretend it was a restaurant!)

Most importantly, they had a shared sense of humor. They lived in the same world of New York City writers; they spoke the same language, using bon mots to cut through the bullsh*t. Berger passed the all-important friend test, even originating the phrase “He’s just not that into you,” a motto that two Sex and the City writers would use as the title of their own self-help book. Berger was funny and smart, with a motorcycle and a house in the Hamptons. He was also sensitive, defensive — and, yes, immature — but that’s exactly why he deserves redemption.

In the time between the Post-it breakup and AJLT, I bet things have turned around for Berger. I imagine he ended up writing a few incredibly well-received pieces of long-form journalism for Vanity Fair and a short story published in Ploughshares and lives with a cat on the Upper West Side. I bet he’s been in therapy, and not in a creepy, using-therapy-speak-to-be-abusive way. (That feels like a Skipper move.)

I am not an Aidan person and I will go on the record as saying that. Aidan is a perfectly nice guy, but he’s also sanctimonious and a little annoying. (Actually, come to think of it, he would definitely use therapy-speak in a completely wrong way. Can you imagine it? “You smoking — yes, even outside the house — just violates my boundaries.”) He’s passive aggressive with Carrie and judges her for the type of person she is. Carrie is not, and will never be, someone who likes camping or big dogs. She likes impractical heels and air conditioning, and that’s OK! She and Aidan were simply not a good fit.

Craig Blankenhorn/Max

For Carrie and Berger, I would argue that their relationship downfall was circumstantial — he was going through an extremely rough patch. But for Aidan, it was just a fundamental character mismatch. They tried, then tried again, and it did not work. Aidan belongs in Vermont with a woman who’s a kindergarten teacher and pottery instructor, and wears practical shoes and only makeup with SPF. Have some self-respect, my man, and leave Carrie in the past.

Dumping someone via Post-it Note may seem unforgivable to some, but in reality, it’s nothing in the pantheon of SATC mistreatment. Carrie cheated on Aidan, and then broke up with him after he took her back and she accepted his marriage proposal! Isn’t that worse than an immature Post-it for a short-term relationship? Mr. Big moved to Paris, came back to New York and married another woman, made Carrie the other woman, and then literally left Carrie at the altar, and the show still made us get back on board with him!

Berger and Carrie had something prickly and interesting and special. He understood who she was, and he was on her level creatively. Carrie is an incredibly successful writer who deserves someone who sees that in her. Hopefully, Berger has grown into someone who could celebrate her without getting insecure.

I can see how it happens: Berger, now a professor at the Columbia MFA program, invites Carrie to do a reading for his students. They meet for drinks after, and he admits what a d*ck he was back then. And then? We’re back in, baby! Let the banter and Hollywood kisses flow again.