Why Mr Big needed to die in And Just Like That
The Sex and the City reboot shocked when it killed off the cigar smoking, steak eating financier in the first episode – but while he’ll leave a Big hole, his death is necessary to allow the show to progress.
By: Kimberley Bond
And just like that, Sex and the City is back.
The 10-part reboot of the once ground-breaking TV series finally dropped on Sky Comedy after months of anticipation, showing our favourite friendship quartet (now trio) navigating life and love in their fifties.
And Just Like That was desperately keen to stress the fact that Carrie Bradshaw and co were adjusting to a modern world, practically beating its audience over the head with a sledgehammer of contemporary references in the first five minutes. This is a new New York, the world has changed drastically since we last saw the women in the (godawful) second movie back in 2011.
But it’s not just the arrival of Instagram and the throwaway references to coronavirus that are meant to signal a dramatic shift since we last saw the girls. And Just Like That made the bold and shocking decision to kill off Mr Big, Carrie’s main love interest and now-husband, with a sudden heart attack after a workout (the product placement Peloton probably didn’t want).
It was a surprisingly tragic moment in a show that is, for the most part, a comedy. Sex and the City certainly didn’t shy away from moving and emotional topics, such as Charlotte’s fertility struggles and Samantha’s breast cancer, yet it always approached these topics with a deft lightness of touch – serious conversations were packaged up by a sharp-shooting quick wit, with the smart wordplay allowing Sex and the City’s more serious messages to filter through without appearing preachy. But none of the original series’ trademark humour was there in the heart-wrenching moments where Big and Carrie looked at each other one last time before he died in her arms, Carrie’s wedding shoes a sodden heap as she cradled him by the shower.
Big’s death, surprising as it was, is symbolic for the end of an era. The cigar smoking, jazz-loving businessman was a hallmark of old New York, the city of glamour and excess we became acquainted with in the original TV series. But as And Just Like That is so keen to show us, that world is long gone; in order to see the characters progress in an ever-changing environment, writers cannot rely on the same stale storyline and safety net that Big provided.
Fundamentally, the team behind Sex and the City find themselves stuck for exciting storylines when Carrie and Big are happy, trying to find numerous ways to shatter their domestic bliss only for the pair to end up back together. Killing Big puts a stop to that and ushers in a new era for Carrie; for the first time, we will see her without her Big comfort blanket romance she always returns to – it’s an opportunity for the show to explore the new, intriguing and likely relatable territory of someone looking to adjust to life after such a seismic loss.
For all its flaws, Sex and the City was groundbreaking in its approach to female sexuality and dating when it first hit screens in 1998. It was one of the pioneers in bringing conversations around sex and intimacy to the forefront without it being for men’s titillation. But the dating landscape has altered massively since Carrie and co’s conversations at the brunch table; besides apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, which have changed dating into an endless carousel of choice, there’s new lingo to reason with and define: ‘ghosting’, ‘breadcrumbing’, ‘soft launching’. In order for And Just Like That to carry the trendsetting torch Sex and the City has bestowed it with, it needs to have at least one single girl to turn brave pioneer and explore this strange new world of romance, love and sex.
Ultimately, Big’s sudden death allows And Just Like That to have substantially more depth than many would have initially thought the show was going to have. The bold move to kill off one of its major players shows its critics that the follow-up to Sex and the City won't just be shagging and shoes, but an in-depth exploration of womanhood, love and loss – and that is far more enticing than just seeing Carrie and Big have yet another fallout.
And Just Like That... is available to watch on Sky Comedy and stream on NOW from today. For information on when the next episode will air, see here.