‘And Just Like That…’ Has Done the Unthinkable

It made me root for Aidan.

Aidan Shaw  and Carrie Bradshaw  in And Just Like That...

Heraclitus once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” The ancient Greek philosopher was referring, of course, to the experience of rewatching Sex and the City at various times throughout your life.

Whenever I’ve done that over the past two decades, I’ve gained a fresh perspective on a character or situation. As a teenager, I couldn’t understand what Miranda saw in Steve, the scrappy, streetwise bartender with a honking Queens accent and a heart of gold. By the time I Became a Woman™, I realized that all those qualities made Steve the hottest man on the show. In my younger years, I thought Charlotte was a stuffy and uptight traditionalist. When I grew older, I could see that she knew exactly what she wanted and that her friends were often kind of dicks to her. Miranda was a boring wet blanket in my teens, then a driven career woman in my 20s, then again boring in my 30s (also a former gubernatorial candidate and menswear icon).

But I have never once wavered in my assessment of one character and one situation: under no circumstances would I ever be Team Aidan.

Even during my most recent rewatch of the original HBO series just a few months back, I all but had to stop myself from booing every time Aidan Shaw, Carrie Bradshaw’s former fiancé, appeared onscreen. This has nothing to do with the perfectly charming actor John Corbett, or even the perfectly charming fictional character Aidan. A folksy furniture maker, devoted dog owner, and turquoise jewelry-wearer (that one was all Corbett’s idea), Aidan was the quintessential good guy on paper and yet a terrible fit for Carrie. He judged her for her smoking and for having a massive shoe collection! He forced her into the great outdoors and stayed in to eat KFC on Saturday nights! God, Aidan sucked. Carrie sucked. And, to be clear, I was never Team Big, whom she cheated with and eventually married. In Sex and the City, as in life, you often gotta hear neither side.

However! And Just Like That… has changed me.

When And Just Like That… premiered last year, it brought the core cast together twenty years after the events of the original Sex and the City series (minus Samatha, and I hope Kim Cattrall is off scatting to her heart’s content). The reboot attempts to modernize itself for the present day and atone for the sins of the original by addressing issues of racial and gender diversity, albeit often clumsily.

Also, Big dies from a Peloton-induced heart attack in the series premiere. In the season one finale, Carrie carries his ashes to Paris in a tiny rhinestone-encrusted Eiffel Tower-shaped handbag before scattering them into the Seine. The overall effect of the series is much like when I went to see the Cats revival on Broadway: ironic curiosity gave way to the feeling that I was on every drug at once gave way to genuine pleasure.

Early on into filming season two, paparazzi shots revealed that Aidan would be returning. Despite my longtime Aidan reticence, a primal part of my brain was activated upon seeing a familiar face from the Sex and the City extended universe. This is as close as I will ever get to understanding what it must mean to be a Marvel fan. 

Yes, his actual entrance involved an insane belted Barbour jacket that made him look like a 19th century Prussian officer. Jacket aside, the reunion with Carrie is going perfectly. He’s now divorced, with three sons named Tate, Homer, and Wyatt. He’s raising chickens at his farm in Virginia—which he was able to buy because he sold his furniture business to West Elm. He’s endearing to Carrie’s friends, enthusiastic about cookware, wears the hell out of his Blundstones, and keeps it tight. 

Carrie is similarly smitten, to the point where she couldn’t help but wonder if her blinders-on obsession with Big had kept her from realizing how great Aidan was all those years ago. Mostly, the two of them have grown enough so that they’re actually right for each other now. If Carrie was too unfaithful and noncommittal—as the popular social media theory goes, “Carrie is Aidan’s Big”—she’s atoned and is fully invested. If Aidan was too judgmental their first go-around, he’s apologized for his mistakes and is there to pick up the pieces for Carrie. And I haven’t seen a single turquoise ring yet. 

Obviously, the whole point of this reunion is to have the viewer root for his and Carrie’s long-lasting happiness. As show creator Michael Patrick King told The New York Times, “I didn’t bring Aidan back to fail.” Coming into the season two finale, it’s no longer looking so optimistic or certain. Just as Carrie’s sold her apartment so that she can have a fresh start with Aidan, he’s thrust into a family crisis with his youngest son’s accident. 

But who knows? It was just announced that And Just Like That… will be returning for a third season. And I’ll be jumping straight into that sweet, sweet cosmo-filled river.

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