it doesn’t work ‘just like that’

WARNING: There will be spoilers ahead for the SATC reboot ‘And Just Like That’ so please stop reading now if you don’t want to read such things!

It’s been a while, dear reader, since I was moved to write a blog post. This almost feels like going back in time to the more innocent days of MySpace, really clunky html and webpages that flashed through RGB codes in alphabetical order. And, in a sense, remembering such times is what has moved me to write this. Being of a certain (clears throat) age, I have watched and loved Sex and the City from the beginning. I know that it’s a programme that gives away its age with some out of date views, a little bit like Miranda in a cringworthy scene in this new version. But I always loved the sense I got of New York and, rewatching, the 90’s. It was a nostalgia fix.

When the Friends cast reunited for an interview earlier this year, the writers of the show said how they hadn’t wanted to do new episodes. To do another series, they said, they would need to create a storyline with impetus. This would mean unravelling the happy endings they had given the characters and this was something they didn’t want to do. Having now watched the first two episodes of ‘And Just Like That’ I think their instincts about this were completely right.

SPOILER ALERT:

OMG they killed Big. (The bastards!)

They also potentially killed the sales of the premium indoor bike the Peleton by having our favourite reformed toxic bachelor do a workout on his and then keel over with a heart attack.

It upset me. My hand went over my mouth. I had to watch the next episode right away to check it wasn’t a bit like the first time Nate died in Six Feet Under. But it wasn’t. And it was done BADLY.

I’ve read reviews today that have mostly complained about the ‘woke’ aspects of the show’s reincarnation. But, honestly, what did you expect to happen? All of them to carry on living in the 90’s like some weird guy they do an ‘and finally’ piece on in the local news? I’m yet to find a single review taking issue with Big’s death. In fact, many suggest that this storyline might save the series.

But it is WRONG. It is bad writing. It is poor research. It is ANNOYINGLY inaccurate. All I can think is that none of the reviewers can have ever lost a friend to a cardiac arrest, nor lived with a partner with a heart condition. As for the writers, did you consult a doctor about this plot twist? Or anyone who’d experienced their partner having a heart attack? Because, if you did, you must surely have ignored everything they said. What’s more, you made me want to slap Carrie. And I like Carrie!

So, where do I start?

First of all, if you have a husband who has had a stent fitted in the past, regardless of any ‘clean bill of health’ it’s highly, highly unlikely you’d let him get on his Peleton for a very vigorous workout unsupervised. Sorry, no. In fact, once somebody has had this kind of surgery there are all sorts of rules about exercise. Yes, it’s good. Yes, it’s encouraged. But only with constant heart rate monitoring to check that the heart doesn’t go above a certain rate (for my husband 56 btm, which sounds very low but he has drugs that keep it down). Sure, it’s possible that these things relax many years after the surgery, as would have been the case here. But the idea that someone would get on their bike and do that kind of workout alone in the house just comes off ridiculous to me. Similarly, the idea they would smother the healthy fish they were cooking with salt. Madness!

Also: when you have a heart condition you are given a spray of something called GTN. This helps your blood vessels dilate in an emergency and can save your life. There’s no chance you’d do a vigorous workout without having it to hand.

And, while I’m here, at one point Big reaches for his phone but can’t get hold of it. I mean, why not? A mycardial infarction (which is what we must assume this was since he had arm and chest pain and didn’t just collapse and die) is debilitating but doesn’t stop you from using your arm. I mean, perhaps it could, but my husband had quite a serious one (a full STEMI blockage) and was conscious for hours and able to walk around, so I find this plot point a stretch, given that Big is still conscious when Carrie gets home. And, anyway, what kind of multi-millionaire in a swanky New York pad has no Alexa or Google voice controlled devices? Why couldn’t he just say ‘okay google call 911?’

And it only get worse when Carrie arrives home.

There’s a huge build up to Big’s heart attack that makes it oh so obvious what’s going to happen, with cuts between the recital where Charlotte’s daughter Lily gives a dramatic virtuoso performance on the piano. It’s well done, I guess, except that it felt a bit clich├ęd to me. I can’t say exactly why but it did.

Then Carrie gets home and comes in looking for Big. She calls out his real name, John. No reply. She finds him slumped beside the shower, still conscious but clearly very, very poorly. She screams his name. Runs over. Holds him. Snogs him! Keeps saying oh John, oh John. He’s conscious. Alive. He doesn’t look in any way like someone experiencing agonal breathing and cardiac arrest. He looks like someone in pain and close to losing consciousness. You wouldn’t just hold your partner in this situation and give up.

WTF Carrie? Sure, we all do mad things when we’re scared but if you have a partner with a heart condition, you rehearse this scenario in your head time and time again. You know exactly what you’ll do if and when you need to. You’ve watched videos of CPR and know where the nearest publicly accessible defribrilator is. I can believe that she’d run over and grab him before dialling 911 (at a push) but not that she’d continue holding and kissing him for that long without making that call. He’s still conscious ffs. I do not buy that her reaction would be to hold and kiss him rather than save his life!

The scene ends with a classic call back to the voiceovers of the original show (which are much quieter in this version). Carrie tells us ‘And just like that, Big died.’

And I am screaming at the screen at this point. What do you mean ‘just like that’? Where’s the CPR? Where are the paramedics? Where is Carrie reaching in a cupboard to get the AED device that they would surely own given their affluence and Big’s heart condition? No. This does not make sense. Giving CPR to a loved one is traumatic. Watching paramedics try to revive them is, too. Seeing them in intensive care with their life on the line for days or weeks is horrendous. But stepping aside from this trauma with a line of voiceover is unforgivable. For women like me, and friends who’ve been through worse than I have, our favourite TV reflecting that is potentially A Good Thing. But not if they’re going to gloss over the reality and just give us some trashy signal that Carrie’s lost her mind with fear because the shower is still running and she lets her Jimmy Choo’s get wet.

I stayed up very late watching the next episode and, to be fair, things began to improve a little. Carrie’s stony silence and vulnerability felt right, as did her rejection of the funeral parlours she visited. It felt in character. But how do they continue the series from here? Grief, especially on the premature loss of your partner, is not something that clears in a few weeks and allows comedy in. It’s massive. It’s an iceberg compared to the break ups, relationship troubles and even the fertility and health issues the characters have faced before. We can’t simply get “our Carrie” back, who calls Stanford rather than Charlotte because he will make her laugh. I just don’t see how they can do this in a way that is realistic but also entertaining.

But, hey, they might surprise me and completely redeem the series. It’s going to take actual genius, though, for me to forgive them for the way they let John James Preston die.