And Just Like That Director On That Abortion Scene, Che Diaz Backlash

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SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from “The Last Supper Part Two: Entrée,” the Season 2 finale of “And Just Like That,” now streaming on Max.

“And just like that … I ordered two more Cosmopolitans” — that’s Carrie Bradshaw’s last line, delivered in her signature voiceover, in the Season 2 finale of “And Just Like That.”

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) delivers that proclamation as she relaxes on a beautiful beach, alongside her friend Seema (Sarita Choudhury). “We ran at love,” Seema says earlier in the scene. “And where did that get us?” Carrie answers simply, “Greece.”

Both women have fallen in love during the second season of the “Sex and the City” revival, and for now, are seemingly at peace with the challenges ahead of them. Carrie has accepted that Aidan (John Corbett) — her old love, now renewed — needs to be home in Virginia for his kids for the next five years (or possibly less, if she gets “time off for good behavior,” as she puts it). And the once-determinedly single Seema has fallen for Ravi (Armin Amiri), a high-flying Marvel director, who’s also asked her to wait as well — albeit for only five months.

Max

The return of Kim Cattrall’s Samantha in a cameo — one fans have anticipated since before the Season 2 premiere, when Variety broke the news — is seen early in the episode. Samantha calls Carrie with her regrets that she was unable attend Carrie’s dinner party as she said one final goodbye to her Upper East Side apartment, where Carrie lived during “Sex and the City,” and returned to after the death of Big (Chris Noth) in the series premiere of “And Just Like That.” Samantha, who was going to surprise her, asks Carrie to put her on speaker. “Thank you for everything, you fucking fabulous, fabulous flat!” Samantha says, then slipping in a reference to Annabelle Bronstein, an alter ego Samantha affected in a Season 6 episode of “Sex and the City” in order to attempt to get into Soho House.

“And Just Like That” showrunner Michael Patrick King says he’s been watching all the dialogue and debate around the second season of the show — and has found it “thrilling.”

“Like back in the old days, where people talked about something, and didn’t just eat it quickly, and get over it,” King says of the show’s weekly rollout on Max.

As it did during its first season, “And Just Like That” certainly has continued to stir fan conversation, which King delves into during our interview. The title of the episode refers to Carrie’s goodbye apartment dinner party — as prepared by a Michelin star chef — in which all the “And Just Like That” characters, new and old, congregate as a group for the first time. “It was fun for us — really fun — to end the season with an actual sitdown of those characters together,” King says. He embraces, and is clearly amused by, what he calls some viewers’ “hilariously aggressive love-hate relationship” with the show.

With the continuation of the writers strike, King doesn’t know when he and his team will begin working on Season 3, but the news of the show’s renewal went out earlier this week. He says that with Carrie in a sort of limbo with Aidan, he didn’t want to leave fans wondering — “I don’t want people thinking they have to wrestle with that as the eternal ending,” King says.

In a wide-ranging Zoom conversation the morning the finale dropped on Max, King discusses bringing Samantha back, constructing the new arc of Carrie and Aidan’s relationship, why Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) and her husband Herbert (Christopher Jackson) never used the word “abortion,” and the perpetual discourse machine that is Che Diaz (Sara Ramírez).

Did you know when you decided to bring Aidan back how that story would end, with him asking Carrie to wait until his kids grow up?

I knew the word “Aidan” to start, and then because one of my rules is to never repeat, I knew that she couldn’t hurt him again — for the audience and for Carrie’s own thought process, she couldn’t. The question then was, how do you tell their story differently? Carrie, this time, was running at love, as she tells Seema — run at love, if you feel it. The new Carrie-Aidan thing was that she had no reservations, and so we knew that we needed something to break them up.

And since we think he is true of heart, and that she’s true of heart, the only thing when we looked around — and with my friends, and with the other writers with children — the really great love and the great sacrifice are parents with their kids. So we knew that the kids would be a problem. And then it wound up being the youngest one who became — we call him a puzzle, but he’s a very complicated plot piece as well.

Craig Blankenhorn

What does Carrie’s five-years-in-the-future life with Aidan give “And Just Like That,” narratively, going forward? 

It gives us more story. It gives us an open end. It gives us a complicated problem. It gives us space. It gives Carrie a big thing to think about, you know what I mean?

What it gives us is a problem that we have to figure out: how Carrie Bradshaw finds her way through this to love.

We’re in the middle of two different strikes. But when you wrapped the season, were you thinking that we will see Aidan again, at least occasionally?

Well, they made a promise to each other. And he said, “Nothing bad is going to happen.” That wasn’t a goodbye. That was a see ya sometime. They were still very much connected at the end. The way they played it was it wasn’t tragic. And they were still very much alive, and they had that whole night where they laughed and cried and made love, or did whatever they did. But it ended kind of in a grown-up understanding of here’s where we are. 

What Sarah Jessica liked about the writing was that no one tried to convince the other one that they were wrong or right. They were just accepting the reality of that moment, and letting it be. She said the word “grown up” to me — it felt grown up. That doesn’t mean it’s not complicated.

When did you come up with Carrie and Seema on the beach together in Greece — drinking Cosmos, of all things — as the final scene in the season?  

I actually said to the writers right away, “Whatever happens, it ends with Carrie and Seema on the beach, looking out at the horizon” — whatever that means.

What it meant to me was: It goes on, and it’s a tribute to women without men. It’s a tribute to glamour. It’s a tribute to pluckishness. A lot of these last voiceovers, from the very first one, “And just like that … Big died” — I mean, you can’t get more heavy and dark and poetic than that. When I was writing the last voiceover, it’s the most casual one: “And just like that … I ordered two more Cosmopolitans.”

I mean, that is it, right? Something happens, and you grab a friend, and you go on. And it’s that spirit that keeps going.

No Bethenny Frankel in sight!

That we know of!

Max

OK, let’s talk Samantha. How did you figure out what you wanted the Samantha scene to be once she agreed to be on the show? 

As you know, it’s literally a cameo. I mean, it’s just a little moment. What I always thought was that these characters are texting, and occasionally talking, so I knew it was going to be conversational. The heroic thing was that Samantha was coming for an overnight — like, I’m flying to New York for the night, because I wanted to be there to celebrate the apartment. I felt it was a very nice, grand gesture for Samantha. I believe she would do that for that moment. The weather screwed it up.

But I wanted to do a reference to “Sex and the City” by having her reference Annabelle Bronstein again from the Soho House, because that was pure Samantha DNA: “I’m Annabelle Bronstein!” It was a classic Samantha, bad girl, fabulous girl story. And it shows that Samantha’s still thinking about it.

I’m happy that it’s really early in the episode, because I don’t want the drumbeat that this big dramatic thing is going to happen. Because that was never the intention. The intention was: Look, there she is! They’re talking. It’s two steps past an emotional text. They’re talking.

What were the logistics of filming the Samantha phone call?

It’s the state of the art studio in New York. It was: Kim came, she did her scene and she left. I was filming another scene in the city on 23rd Street, Anthony and Giuseppe. Sarah Jessica did her scene earlier, much like all the other phone calls on the show, quite frankly, they don’t happen with the other actors. So it felt very normal, and yet very heightened, to see Samantha again.

Wait, so you didn’t direct that scene? 

No.

What kinds of conversations did you and Sarah Jessica have about her side of the conversation? I mean, obviously, in the past, she’s been very frank about how she felt about the possibility of Kim coming back.

Look, Kate, I’m not going to say anything past the fact that it happened. So something shifted everywhere. Obviously, it happened. It was the 25th anniversary of “Sex and the City.” Everybody knew it would be good for the show, and hopefully fun for the fans. And everybody just did it. And there wasn’t a lot of drama around the conversation: People just did it.

I loved the “Sex and the City” music underneath the conversation, and it was so sweet that she kissed the phone. 

Very Samantha. Very, very Samantha, and surprising and beautiful. And I did put the “Sex and the City” oeuvre under the thing, because it was clearly a moment from that. It was fizz. It wasn’t the actual, exact sound, but it was the essence of it. I liked the fact that she kissed the phone too. 

What was it like to include her in the finale, having built this whole world without her? I worry for you that this will just raise the question of her coming back more.

As far as “Sex and the City” and “And Just Like That,” I never think past the moment that I’m finished. I mean, this is unbelievable that it’s still happening. I didn’t end “Sex and the City” and then think, “Oh, we’re for sure doing a movie,” and then I didn’t end the second movie thinking “We’re coming back as a whole new series.”

Fans seem to be having their own expectations in such a micro way that I can’t even get into the conversation. I really thought it was a little treat, and I would never build any expectations on more.

Max

What were some other crucial questions that you wanted to answer in the finale?

The thing I like most about the finale is Carrie standing at that table, and the people at the table represent to me how current and alive Carrie Bradshaw is in the modern-day world.

I love that the friendships that were deep for 26 years, are deeper. I love that everybody landed in a new place. Charlotte and Miranda both have arrived at new places: I think it’s interesting that they’re both back at work, which is where they started. I love that we’re able to deepen these other characters that never existed in this universe. I think they’re all dimensionally phenomenal performers. I’m really happy that we got to show these people, and grow them a little. And I’m really happy the audience sort of came with us.

What do you mean “sort of”?

You know how Steve talks about the roller coaster? They come and they go, and they love and they doubt and they hate and they love — and then they begrudgingly say, “Is this good?”

I mean, it’s the most hilariously aggressive love-hate relationship, as a cosmos. Even on the scary parts of the roller coaster, they’re like, “Oh, now we like it! Now we hate it again. Now we like it!”

It means it’s alive and kicking. It’s not dead, and it’s certainly not a reboot: It’s a new chapter with new energy — things that you love or don’t love. And it really is interesting to do something that people own. They own it.

Did you know when you started writing the season that Carrie was finally going to sell her apartment? And what did that mean for the show, and for Carrie? 

No, I did not. But I’ll tell you, when I saw Gramercy, I went, “Oh, Season 3.” The first thought I had was, “Who lives under her?” When I saw the set, I never wanted to leave it. None of us did. Sarah Jessica was like, “This is amazing.” 

As we went through the writing room, we were like, “It’s time for her to go.” And we did trap ourselves: Aidan won’t go in there. That was the other thing I knew right up front. Aidan would never go in there, until the last moment where she goes, “Wait, you’re in the apartment. Uh oh!”

Why did you have Carrie question whether Big was the right choice for her? Her saying that pretty much rocked the foundation of the franchise to its core!

I mean: Carrie asks questions. From Day 1, the entire “Sex and the City” was built on her saying, “I couldn’t help but wonder, were we the new men?”

So why would asking the scariest question to her very best, trusted confidant be so wrong — as much as it is dramatic and thrilling? Look, things happen when people die. And the fact that she was now having quote, unquote “better orgasms than ever,” even with Aidan, made her ask why — why would that be? And then you realize she was holding back, and then the writer in her says, “Was Big a big mistake?” The writer in us says, “Was Big a big mistake?” Because we know it’s a fault-line quake.

But I killed Big in the first episode. So it’s not un-foreshadowed. It’s just sometimes to go forward — you have to take hard looks at stuff. And we tried to have her backtrack a little to Victor Garber’s character, when she says it was a wonderful relationship that ended too soon, because we thought maybe we should have done more on that.

One of the things we do is to ask the thing that may be normal TV franchise models wouldn’t: bring in new characters, kill others, ask questions about the whole beginning of the thing. Doubt. Maybe that’s why people are feeling like they’re on a roller coaster. 

Max

Speaking of conversation around the show, I saw a lot of people talking about Lisa Todd Wexley’s pregnancy, and the fact that neither she nor Herbert ever uses the word “abortion.” They speak very euphemistically about it.

We always thought Herbert would be more euphemistic about it, or even afraid to even say the word himself. Because it’s such a big word for that couple — maybe their upbringing, or his upbringing. What was important to us in the room is the sentence that she did speak: I’m thankful I live in a place where I have that option. That was the only important thing that the women in the writing room wanted to have her say — that was the acknowledgement. 

People way back asked me why I just didn’t call this “Sex and the City.” And I said, “Because I won’t have to. You will.” And I didn’t have to say the word, because you all heard it.

Miranda said it, and that was years and years and years and years ago, when it wasn’t maybe so necessary to say the word. But if it had been Miranda and Carrie, Miranda would have said it. If it had been Nya, Nya would have said it. But it was Herbert and Lisa, and we felt that they would speak this way about it. We’re not afraid. I mean, on “Sex and the City,” we talked about the number of abortions Samantha had — the abortion Carrie had.

You all heard it. You’re asking me the question. You said the word “abortion.” We didn’t have to. As long as you understood what it was.

Craig Blankenhorn

What’s your assessment of how viewers absorbed Che this season — the failure of their pilot, their breakup with Miranda — after what happened last season, which you and I have discussed a ton

People come with a predisposed idea of who that character is, and then they wait to have that fulfilled. And what I wanted to do was show what happened if we go back to the origins of the character, which is Carrie and Che being friends. And what I liked about it is Che became Carrie’s friend again, and I started to hear, “I love Che and Carrie!”

Every time people say they don’t like Che, I go, “You mean you don’t like standups!” I mean, you’re standing on stage asking people to think you’re art. It’s a lot, that character. The audience got to see other sides, which is all you’re supposed to be doing if you get more than one season.

I thought they responded to it the way it was written. And then hopefully, at the end, they’re like, “Good they’re not together, and they never will be.” 

What kinds of conversations did you have with Sara Ramírez about Che this season? 

With characters and actors, I start telling them broad strokes of the arc — the emotional journey, not the details. With Sarah Jessica, I said “Aidan.” With Kristin, I said “back to work.” With Miranda, I said “spokesperson for the Human Rights Watch.”

With Che, I said, “deconstruct emotionally.” And the first thing Sara said to me when I called them, they said, “We’ve got to bring Che down. Che’s got to go in.” And because Sara is amazing actor, I knew that I could go in. So that was the conversation, and then as we go down the road, we have some talks based on language and thought. But they’re amazingly open, amazingly skilled.

The biggest back and forth we had this season was about the last standup, and what it would be. Is it too hard? Is it too soft? What does Che want out of that night? So that kind of stuff. But it was never about anything needing to be fixed, as much as where else are we going? 

Here’s a question about that scene. A lot of fans, including me, found it shitty of Carrie that she and Aidan didn’t leave with Miranda after Che said that stuff in the standup scene — and didn’t disinvite Che from the dinner party! What do you say to that?

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a comedy room when your friend bombs, but it takes a minute to figure out how you’re going to process this. I think from Sarah Jessica’s performance, she told us she didn’t appreciate it. 

I have no idea what happened next, but I don’t think they hung around. I’m pretty sure Aidan said, we’re gone, and they paid that thing, and they went out that back door. And I’m sure there was a call from Che to Carrie saying, “I fucked up. What should I do?” To anyone who’s upset about that, I say Aidan threw down some hard cash, they took the sips of their drinks, and went out that back door!

The thing that took me by surprise was the fans’ reaction to Carrie telling Miranda the next day she had to come to the party. She says you’re alive, you’re coming, I care about you — you’re alive. I mean, when you’ve had somebody that you love die tragically, I think everything else seems a little less of a Richter-scale moment. Like, they’ll figure it out.

Craig Blankenhorn

How did becoming a monk become the way for the show to say goodbye to Stanford? You had to write him out after Willie Garson died during the first season.

Listen, there’s nothing I would have liked more than: “Ding dong!” and Stanford’s back in a kimono with some Louis Vuitton trunks, going, “Japan’s fabulous!”

But I don’t have that option. Willie died. I didn’t really feel good about the triage we did in the first season that he was in Japan. I had to skate across ice to do that, thin ice, because we were in shock, and I had to just write him out of the show. I wanted to put Willie someplace golden. I wanted to put Willie in heaven. That’s just me, personally: I wanted to put give him a beautiful resting place. 

And then the writer in me was like, we have to tie this story up. So what can be final, and almost silly, and almost real? Sarah Jessica and I went to Kyoto after “Sex and the City 2,” which was — spoiler alert — not received well. She was fine, and I was wrecked, and feeling responsible. We walked around to a lot of temples in Kyoto. There were no prayers, it was just this beautiful space. We sat there, and I felt stuff — I felt sort of released. I felt perspective. And I felt beauty and “God” in quotes.

And I thought, “Well, Sarah Jessica and I sat there. Sarah Jessica and I love Willie.” I just thought it was a final resting place for a character that isn’t death, but is also God’s concierge. And they could make slight fun of it. I didn’t want him to endlessly be just traveling around, “Auntie Mame”-style, sending postcards. 

Would Willie Garson have liked that?

Would he have liked being in Japan? No, he would have liked to be on the show! He wanted to be on every episode.

Sorry, I mean, would he have thought that was funny? 

I have no idea. But I have to say almost my favorite thing in Season 2 is the way Sarah Jessica drank that Cosmo in one gulp after the toast. I wasn’t expecting it, she was just in the moment. And she just drank the entire cosmo, and in the middle, she winked at Anthony, or Mario, and just kept going after she said, “To Stanny.” I think that he would have loved that moment.

The show has been renewed for Season 3. Will the writers’ room start as soon as the strike’s over? 

Oh, yeah. As soon as the strike’s over, the room will start immediately. I don’t know the structure or the timeframe or anything yet, but I do know that there’s an open situation that we’re going to have to address: Carrie Bradshaw.

This interview has been edited and condensed.



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