[This story contains spoilers from the first two episodes of And Just Like That season two.]
And Just Like That, everyone seems to be heading to the bedroom.
The Sex and the City sequel kicks off its second season with a provocative, two-and-a-half minute montage, featuring six of its seven main characters in moments of intimacy — and its seventh, watching an intimate scene on television. And while the original series was groundbreaking for its time, the update rolling out weekly on Max deliberately showcases all kinds of sex, from queer sex to casual sex. The cast and crew of the current installment also works closely with an intimacy coordinator, an on-set role that didn’t yet exist when Sex and the City premiered in 1998.
In mid-June, showrunner Michael Patrick King piped in via Zoom from New York, where he spoke candidly about the significance of sex in the series and what he wanted to say about intimacy of all kinds.
I’ll be honest, it’s hard to remember just how sexually forward Sex and the City was, given how many times I’ve caught the sanitized reruns on cable over the years…
If you put it in its context, if it was very, very sexual for 1998.
Right. Nevertheless, this new season seems to explore more modern and, in some instances, more fluid sensibilities about relationships and sex. If Sex and the City was groundbreaking in giving women agency in their sex lives and showing that on screen, what did you want to say this season about sex on And Just Like That?
I think if last season had to deal with death — and it was what we chose to do, we broke the old show to make a new show, and it was really infused with death — this season was going to be about life, and sex is such a big part of life. As a writer, you just sort of keep going and something happens, and then you have to deal with it the next season. So, the last thing that happened in season one was Carrie spontaneously kisses Franklyn [her podcast producer], so then it became, “Okay, what happened when that happened?” And the first thing I thought was, like, “Sex: Carrie and Franklyn.” We literally start the [season two premiere] with Carrie opening the bathroom door to a new sex life. And once you get Carrie having sex that’s supposedly not important, then the doors are open. Then it’s just like, “Oh, wait a minute, these people are all sexual.” I mean, Charlotte and Harry have a great sex life, which we always thought was so funny. But sex on our show is either glamorous or aspirational or funny.
Where do you think the opening montage falls in that spectrum?
I think that opening is glamorous and aspirational — all these beautiful actors coming to bed. And the other thing that’s important is that all of the original characters are on the move towards the bed, and the men are just laying there like himbos — like, in bed, kind of coy, with the sheet up above their waist, like you’ve seen actress and female characters in every show. But all of a sudden on And Just Like That season two, it’s a complete flip. And then the comedy is, of course, Nya [Karen Pittman] is watching a sex scene on television because her sex is far away. [Her partner, musician Andre Rashad, is off on tour.] So, yeah, sex was important. And then when you start talking about exploring sex, now you have Miranda in a whole new sexual arena [dating nonbinary comic Che], and you have the joy and the comedy of the strap-on and the uncomfortableness of that [in episode one]. But also, you’re moving her forward because she’s not just following, she’s driving sex.
There’s a lot of nudity, too, some of which is completely unrelated to sex. It feels somewhat rare to see the bodies of women, particularly women over 40, without it being highly sexualized, and I’m curious how conscious that choice was and what the conversations around it entailed?
I recently looked back at Sex of the City for the 25th retrospective that we just did, and I, myself, was stunned that in the second or third episode of season two, Cynthia Nixon is completely naked [from the waist up] doing dirty-talking sex. I was like, “That was so many years ago, and she was already game!” But I really wanted the sensory deprivation tank scene this season [where Miranda happily goes into the tank but then gets salt in her eye], and the only way I could get that was if Cynthia agreed to be head-to-toe naked. It wouldn’t work unless she was all in because what is so funny about the scene is that she goes from loving her new life [in L.A. with Che] to saying, “Fuck my new life.” So, I called up Cynthia and I said, “Completely naked, would that be okay?” And she thought about it, and she goes, “Completely?” I said, “Yes.” And she goes, “I’m sure you’ll take care of me.”
I suspect that’s the benefit of having a 25-year history and the trust that comes with that…
Yes, and it’s also the character. Miranda is completely wide open [this season]. And that’s why we brought Che in, because Miranda had been completely shut down and her sex life had died. So, like Carrie, she’s now open for business. And then with the newer characters like Sarita [who plays Seema], who I don’t think had ever done what we like to call “comedy sex,” I have to let them know, like, “It’s beautiful or it’s suggestive, but it’s never pornographic.” I’m not interested in seeing pornography in our show. I’m interested in love or comedy or beauty.
Is there ever pushback from the actresses with regard to their comfort levels?
It’s always a conversation. And if it’s not comfortable, there’s no reason to do it because then they’ll be uncomfortable and the audience will be even more uncomfortable.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
And Just Like That is now streaming the first two episodes of season two, followed by a weekly Thursday release on Max.
‘And Just Like That’ Boss on the Series’ (Many) Sex Scenes