Warning: This contains spoilers for the series ‘And Just Like That...‘.

As I look forward to the next installment of And Just Like That…, HBO’s 10-episode sequel to Sex and the City, I’m finally over the initial shock of Big’s death.

It’s nice to see Carrie, (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) brunching and shopping. I miss Samantha (Kim Cattrall) — who fell out with the girls after Carrie fired her as her publicist. (Although my gut tells me something else is going on.) And I welcome the newly diverse cast. An all-white New York is even more unrealistic in 2022 than it was in 1998.

But make no mistake, our SATC ladies are dealing with all of the things: the death of a spouse, loss of a best friend, alcoholism, drooping faces, gender fluidity, and a changing media landscape. They are doing all of this while maneuvering through awkward moments with their new friends. Yes Miranda, the woman wearing braids standing in the front of your classroom is your professor. Oops.

And Just Like That... is shockingly honest and refreshingly messy.

It also reflects the real-life complications of the show’s actors. Cattrall and Parker’s feud is why the writers sent Samantha to London. Nixon came out as a lesbian in the years following the show’s end and Miranda is grappling with her romantic feelings toward Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez). Willie Garson, who played Parker’s dear friend Stanford Blatch, died in 2021 from pancreatic cancer during the series’ filming. And right after the first episode, Chris Noth — Carrie’s Mr. Big — was accused of sexual assault by at least five women. He was cut from the season finale.

The series is teeming with change — the thunderous transitions that shatter our self-images and challenge our grace. These issues require us to look deeply into our worried eyes and ask, Girl, you’re 45+, and you’re still working through this mess? But just like that, here you are.

If you’re Miranda, it means your son is having sex in your house, and you are not. If you’re Charlotte, your daughter says she doesn’t feel like a girl. And if you’re Carrie, you’re reeling from the sudden death of your husband while redefining your career.

Heavy stuff.

Real stuff.

We may have hit a certain age, but we don’t have it all together. We aren’t the same people we were a decade ago, despite how we measure up on social media’s “10 Year Challenge.” And that’s cool. Our lives are fluid. We can heal from our hurt and thrive.

That gives me a new perspective on the characters. I never thought I’d see Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte age. Thanks to endless SATC marathons on HBO and E!, I didn’t have to. And that felt good. It especially felt good throughout the pandemic as I also watched every episode of Little House on the Prairie and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Every time Carrie is splashed by that MTA bus during the show’s opening credits, it is like stepping back in time, even if just for a half hour.

» READ MORE: ‘Sex and the City’ creator Candace Bushnell says her one-woman play is about being ‘your own Mr. Big’ | Elizabeth Wellington

When SATC first came on HBO in 1998, I didn’t watch because I couldn’t afford the premium channels. But, like Carrie, however, I was living my best life. A young fashion reporter, I attended shows under the Bryant Park tents just like Carrie. My girlfriends and I went dancing most weekends. Carrie and her girlfriends went to the now-closed B.E.D. nightclub the same year my girls and I did. We also enjoyed lazy brunches with bottomless mimosas and talked about men. The end goal: marriage and children. It happened for some of us, and for others it didn’t.

My life kept going after the show ended. Flip phones turned into smartphones. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok changed the media landscape. Fashion shows moved from the tents to Lincoln Center, and now they’re virtual.

Life got real. Some friends changed and transitioned genders. Pronouns started to matter as feelings became more important than grammar. Cute little babies are now college age. Couples divorced and remarried. Several friends — including one who is a sister to me — unexpectedly lost spouses. Some friends I talked to every day, I barely hear from anymore.

For the last two years our lives stood still while time marched on because of the pandemic. Yet, COVID-19 is not a part of the And Just Like That... universe, my only real pet peeve with the show.

The writers’ attempt to address the fallout from the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin through more diverse casting is the most awkward part of the show. But And Just Like That... deals with a class of New Yorkers whose work toward racial equality is simply condemning the KKK and making sure they have at least one Black friend at their dinner parties. This is why watching Charlotte scramble to find other Black people to attend a party she invited Black socialite Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker) to is funny. I’ve been that only Black friend.

It was painful to watch Miranda yell at the security guard who wouldn’t let her law professor — yes, the same law professor she didn’t believe was a professor — in the building without seeing her identification. Miranda’s behavior was more embarrassing than helpful. I’ve been that Black person, too.

These moments are cringeworthy — but important because they happen in real life.

Shows like And Just Like That... are the perfect place to insert this kind of everyday awkwardness with people of color because it makes such behavior more recognizable in our own lives and challenges us to do better. This is where And Just Like That... succeeds.

Society expects women of a certain age — Carrie and the girls are 55 now — to put away our tutus and lingering indecisiveness. The time for making mistakes is considered over. In fact, women are supposed to be completely settled down as we wait for grandchildren. To still be stuck in a fantasy land of having a perfect husband and perfect children like Charlotte, or to be socially awkward like Miranda, or to long for the carefree life of yesteryear like Carrie is to be considered a failure. (I’m glad that Carrie opted not to get the face-lift.)

And Just Like That... encourages us to look back to who we were and smile. At times we may want to wrap up ourselves in fondness of memories of our young adult lives. But the show’s writers are also telling us to embrace who we are now and plow forward into the adventure of uncertainty.

One day we won’t have a choice.

And it will happen, just like that.