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Samantha’s Return Is a Short and Sweet Ode to Fans


Minor spoilers below.

In the first season of And Just Like That…, I kept waiting for Samantha Jones to burst through the doors of every brunch and dinner scene. Every time Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, and Charlotte York got together for a meal or cocktail, the empty seat at the four-top table only accentuated the loss of Sex and the City’s key ingredient: an outspoken, fabulous, sex positive character with unwavering loyalty for her friendships. Mr. Big may have been the character to die on-screen that season, but it was Samantha who we mourned over those first episodes as we returned back to the universe of cosmopolitans and Manolo Blahniks after over a decade.

Eventually, the fourth seat at the table was filled by rotating guests: the chic Lisa Todd-Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), SATC veteran Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone), and increasingly, the most Samantha-like character in the series so far, Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury). At some point in the second season, some clunky plot lines aside, AJLT finally started to feel like a fully-formed series genuinely concerned with exploring its supporting cast of new players. The cringe of the early first season episodes from watching Miranda navigate race, sexuality, and her marriage all at once, had settled into a more recognizably Sex and the City rhythm.

 

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Don’t get me wrong: I loved having Samantha pop in via phone call, in a scene so brief you’d miss it if you had peeled yourself from your screen for a minute to grab a cup of coffee. They slammed the scene right at the beginning of the episode, too, so you wouldn’t be too disappointed by its brevity at the end. It had been teased for months, and we were humbled by the actors warning us not to get too excited. What we got was a scene that hit all the right nostalgic notes: We know Samantha cares about Carrie’s apartment. Who could forget Samantha showing up with two champagne bottles in the first Sex and the City movie for a packing party that included sampling Carrie’s vintage closet picks? “A lot of shit went down in this place,” she said in the 2008 film. “Attention must be paid.”

Samantha didn’t appear through Easter eggs as much this season, aside from Charlotte looking at an old photograph of the foursome and Carrie mentioning her name in an earlier episode. Last season we had texts, fake beef about dropping Carrie as a PR client, and an off-screen meet-up in London for reconciliation. There was very little lead-up to her season 2 appearance, and the cast revealed they had hoped it wouldn’t leak before airing (in which case, it would have been quite a surprise). The cameo itself, on a car ride back from Heathrow airport after missing her flight for Carrie’s “last supper” and costumed by Patricia Field (who is too busy with Emily in Paris to costume And Just Like That…) hit all the same notes of that Sex and the City film apartment packing scene. “Well, it is your apartment, and I have to pay my respects,” she says to Carrie over the phone, and thanks the apartment, on speakerphone, for everything.

samantha

Kim Cattrall returns as Samantha Jones.

Courtesy of Max

The cameo was short, sweet, and an ode to fans who had been watching And Just Like That… solely in anticipation for Cattrall to reprise a role she said she would never reprise again. It speaks to the iconic status of both the character and actor in our contemporary cultural memory. But I couldn’t help but feel, first and foremost, that too much has happened off-screen to fully enjoy her return. We know Cattrall and Parker haven’t buried the hatchet from their feud, and the scene was stitched together like Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi’s controversial final conversation on The Good Wife. We also know Cattrall allegedly stipulated she would not work with Nixon, Davis, or AJLT showrunner Michael Patrick King. But drama aside, the show’s second season has begun feeling like a fully-formed ensemble dramedy, with Seema, in particular, beginning to fill the space Samantha left behind.

Seema got the Samantha treatment this season. She was adorned in head to toe leopard print, navigated penis pump drama, and set firm boundaries as a single woman who began losing her best friend to a new relationship. She’s a classy, ambitious character who most naturally clicked in with Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte. She revived the original Sex and the City ethos this season, the reason why I still watch reruns after a night out when I feel desperately single: Through her character, the writers found new ways to explore singlehood in New York City. Samantha was to be the ultimate “I choose me” single woman; Seema, even while in a relationship in the finale, constantly navigated what it meant to choose herself over a man.

sarita choudhury as seema on and just like that

Sarita Choudhury as Seema on And Just Like That.

Courtesy of Max

I wouldn’t complain if Cattrall did decide, in the end, to return to the series in some capacity (doubtful, btw). In fact, I would be delighted. But when Seema exclaims “single people have rights too,” in the most Samantha way possible when asked to pay a couple’s premium to get a single person’s massage on Valentine’s Day, I begin to wonder, just like that, if we—and the show—can finally move on.

Lettermark

Michel Ghanem is a freelance writer based in Vancouver. He has written about TV for The Cut, W Magazine, TheWrap, Primetimer, his Substack newsletter, and elsewhere. Follow him on Instagram: @tvscholar. 



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