(Identity)

And Just Like That Got The 50-Something Experience All Wrong

Speaking from experience.

Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max
women in 50s

So, I was a fan of Sex and the City. Especially the first four seasons. It was a heady cocktail of glitzy fun — a love letter to New York City and exultation of the sex lives of single ladies out and about. Which I was. At the time, nobody on TV dished about love and relationships like these characters — 30 minutes of cooch power! Me, an art director, and my mostly media pals were unabashedly in the mix — screwing journalists, actors, musicians, what-not. I loved vicariously enjoying those brunches — hearing the four SATC ladies go there. When that flouncy opening music came on, I’d be soaking it up in my jammies. Cosmo in hand. Boyfriend expelled.

But towards the end of the run, those broads really disappointed me. In fact, I would not grace the term “broads” on any of ‘em — except Samantha, the only one who did not compromise herself on her journey. The final seasons were an insult to me — and all of us who supported and loved these formerly self-determined women.

Carrie, who had been a (mostly) positive example of an independent single gal, became so needy — seeking acceptance, mostly from the POS Mr. Big. Charlotte, after landing her first husband Trey, gave up on her dream of owning her own gallery. The fun Samantha was punished in a very predictable (i.e., male) way and was given cancer for being the sex-positive monster she was. And Miranda, my favorite, settled for a partner, let go of her Manhattan apartment, and moved to Brooklyn.

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Eighteen years later … And Just Like That.

To be clear, I wanted this show to work — what an excellent opportunity to show the vitality, the power, of women in their 50s, with no sugar-coating! I hoped for some reinvention. Which there is in AJLT. Maybe Carrie would battle the ageist, sexist BS so prevalent in the media — but handle it in a kickass way á la Shonda Rhimes. Maybe Miranda would become an activist and break out of the privileged bubble they all live in. Maybe there would be a little less attachment to shoes. Maybe the years would have deepened their relationship as friends — and gotten them beyond their angsty co-dependence.

But it starts poorly: Brunch. They all seem bored stiff with each other. As am I. After trilling and chirping about how lucky they are to be in this cool [read: young] restaurant, they start in — quibbling with each other about being, looking, and feeling old.

While time is showing on each and every one of their faces (and so what, that’s life), I didn’t get a clue of any of the advantages of being a woman in her 50s. Nope. Everything's going to sh*t.

Carrie is still married to Big, who has treated her like garbage throughout the series. Yay? Her opulent over-the-top Upper East Side life feels post-COVID wrong. There’s no mention of the hell our city has been through. No evidence of changes she may have gone through as a result of the past two years. All the while, the rest of us 50-somethings were de-cluttering: ourselves, our souls, our lives, our closets. But not Carrie. Her closet is somehow double the size with a couch in the middle. It doesn't feel cute anymore — it's tone-deaf.

Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Career-wise, she’s reinventing: Attempting "new" things like a “podcast” and, wow, “Instagram.” How foreign and young! And despite writing a sex column for decades, she's now squeamish talking about sex, blushing about “masturbation.” Huh? Where was Betty Dodson in her life? Why wouldn’t Carrie be able to navigate the media world with her vast experience and fame? Get a cable show, be a leader, show off that wit and her signature golden curls? Because that’s what a 50-year-old kickass boss would do. Adapt and grow.

And Carrie's nothing compared to the husk of what used to be Miranda.

Ummmm. She made partner in her 30s at a mega law firm. Now she is ... wanting to do good or something? And going to grad school for some reason? She's still married to Steve and drowning her blues in booze. Does our corporate legal star Miranda wow her grad-school classmates? Nope! She's transformed into a nightmare Karen saying everything wrong.

Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

Why oh why would the great white (!) hope that we had in SATC grow to be the insecure, does-gray-make-me-look-older, unpowerful woman holding on to “old-school” hardcover books and a landline?!

They couldn’t give us one powerful woman in this group? Yeah, Miranda would have been the obvious choice. But maybe … just maybe … it could have been …

Charlotte.

Well, that’s never gonna happen.

I have never understood the appeal of Charlotte. At a bare minimum, could we please lose her pouty look to all things puzzling? Imagine philanthropist Charlotte giving her zillions to LGBTQIA+ causes? BLM? Anything of substance in addition to Oscar de la Renta mid-calf florals?

Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

And that's exactly the problem.

They are all STUCK. Nobody is evolving.

And I'm here to tell you: 50-year-old women evolve!

They also are OK to be (gasp) alone. Because, in your “F*CK YOU, 50s” (as I like to call this decade) you stop caring about bullsh*t and really tap into self-love.

At least my posse and I did. The dating-focused banter of our early brunches changed. We changed. We were grateful for our experiences, not grasping for what was. We often surprised our newly liberated selves — sexually, yes, and in so many other ways. Because, once we had the know-how and let go of what didn't matter, we were unstoppable. It was exciting, much more intoxicating than those empties in Miranda's backpack.

Will I watch more of AJLT? Yes, I am not a robot; I want to see more of Che and Miranda going at it. And, also — hopefully, hopefully — witness some evolution that looks familiar.