I Miss Samantha Jones

She drew Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte away from their most mundane and normative instincts. Without her, the Sex and the City reboot is — well, a little boring.

Originally Published: 
Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones in 'Sex and the City'

Major spoilers ahead for the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That.

Everyone is a decade older in the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That, and it’s pretty much the only thing they want to talk about. Now 10 years removed from the last SATC movie, Miranda is stridently gray-haired, Carrie is insistently prude, and Charlotte is a proudly overbearing piano mom. Only Samantha Jones, presumably living decadently in London, has escaped the indignity of aging ungracefully.

It’s not that Sex and the City lacks the raw material to make a promising reboot. When an absent Samantha sends flowers to Big’s funeral (yeah, he dies), the gesture acknowledges the deep well of friendship she shares with Carrie at the same time that it announces her limits. She will not be getting on a plane. But dear God, how I wish she would. Carrie was the original series’ openhearted protagonist, but Samantha was its propulsive rapscallion. In the opening scene of And Just Like That, as the remaining trio discusses the merits of dying their hair — Carrie is pro, Miranda is anti, and Charlotte, well, you don’t even have to ask — I longed for someone to point out how much their brunch conversations have dulled. Samantha dyed her gray pubic hair all the way back in Season 6, and “Bozo the Bush” was a more memorable punchline than anything in the two episodes of AJLT now streaming.

As a quartet, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda were glitzy and aspirational. They frequented every hot club and gallery opening, wore fabulously unrealistic outfits, and represented the possibility of taking friendship as seriously as romantic love at a time when such an idea felt revolutionary. But they’re no longer the cultural mavens they were in their 30s. The remaining women all fell in heterosexual love and got married. Miranda is publicly struggling with how to be white and anti-racist; Carrie is a sex columnist who can’t admit whether or not she masturbates; and Charlotte can’t parent her daughters without turning them into smaller versions of herself. As a group, they’re in desperate need of the compass they used to have in the slightly older Samantha: a model for living in glamorous defiance of age.

Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

Of course, New York City has changed, too. In the parallel universe of AJLT, the pandemic has come and gone. All that remains are questionable fashion gloves for avoiding contact with handrails and traditions carried over from lockdown, like Big and Carrie working their way through his vinyl collection as they make dinner. The run-ins with acquaintances that the women haven’t seen since “before times” aren’t joyous reunions. They’re opportunities to comment on the funerals they couldn’t attend and joke about how much they miss social distancing — the same beats every other show made in the COVID-era has already hit.

The answer to all this tired misanthropy should be Samantha, the reliable antidote to the girls’ most mundane and normative instincts. Carrie doesn't want a cheesy, formal funeral for Big so instead she throws him an elegant but spartan one. We need Samantha to suggest, however inappropriately, that funerals can be sexy, too. Only she could get a genuine laugh out of Carrie on her darkest of days.

It’s true that AJLT draws the remaining trio into their later adulthood faithfully. I can see Charlotte as a Type A mom and even Miranda as a fumbling ally. People become more themselves with age, but watching it happen is kind of boring. When I pressed play on the series premiere, I was sad not to see the original credits: Carrie in a froufrou pink skirt, skipping through Manhattan only to get splattered by garbage water. I didn’t know how much I would miss that sequence or how much I would miss Samantha Jones. She wasn’t the friend who’d step in front of the bus to protect you — that’s Miranda. And she wasn’t the friend who’d commiserate over your spoilt tutu — that’s Charlotte. Samantha was less kind, less useful, and more indelible than the women she left stateside. She was there to remind you that, next time, the bus should move for you.

This article was originally published on