‘AJLT’ and the Aspiration Factor

Who is going to want to move to NYC to try and emulate the lives of 55ish-year-old women?

| 02 Dec 2021 | 03:29

“And Just Like That ...” I became the only person in NYC not quite as excited about the “Sex And The City” reboot as (according to the publicity) everyone else is.

When the new HBO Max series was announced, I perked up as did all fans of the original show, which is in never-ending rotation on cable TV. But as the December 9 premiere approaches, disappointment has already begun to set in. Will I watch? Of course. It’s like going to a class reunion; I love playing catch-up with old friends. Redhead Miranda’s silver hair suits her, and of the four original friends, it only stands to reason that the independent attorney would be the one with the confidence to put forth an “I’m gray, deal with it,” attitude. Charlotte is still a pretty preppy. And who doesn’t love that Carrie continues to run around our city in heels and eclectic outfits? But, even though “the girls” are younger than me, they’re still grown women in their 50s now, which means that AJLT will lack what SATC oozed: the aspiration factor.

When the show debuted in 1998, who didn’t want to be a member of the Cosmo-swilling Carrie & Co. crowd? Thirtysomething, established in a career, and with a roommate-free apartment. And, well, so many young, handsome men, so little time. They weren’t always Mr. Right (or Mr. Big) but, oh the adventures the ladies had finding out.

Because Manhattan was treated as the “fifth friend,” each episode was akin to a 30-minute I-heart-NY commercial. Young women from all over were packing up their U-Hauls to begin their adult lives in the city that never sleeps to be like whichever of the characters they identified with.

Now, who is going to want to move here to try and emulate the lives of 55ish-year-old women? No one.

Unlike some very rude, ageist people on social media who have taken umbrage with the fact that the characters (as well as the actresses) have dared to age — to which SJP has clapped back but good — I’m well aware and accepting of life’s natural progression. I have to be every time I look in the mirror and see no-longer-dewy skin and, like Miranda Hobbs/Cynthia Nixon, hair with no pigment.

I know from personal experience that even though I’m lucky enough to have a good husband, two employed grown children who live on their own, a career, a nice apartment, and as American Express as my witness, a lovely wardrobe, young women don’t want to be me. The most I can hope for is someone saying, “I hope someday when I’m in my 60s I have what you have.” I know full well though that they hope “someday” won’t come for a very long time.

I can’t blame them.

Although today, 50 is indeed considered fabulous, one’s body is not what it was, even if you work out religiously like Housewife Ramona Singer; skin is not what it was even if you use that tightening stuff Christie Brinkley hawks on TV; and, the brain isn’t as sharp, hence all those commercials for memory-enhancing supplements.

“And Just Like That...” will do just fine as long as viewers (and I include myself) don’t expect that Zsa Zsa Zsu feeling they experienced back in the day when Carrie bolted from Bradley Cooper’s car after the New York Magazine “Single & Fabulous?” mishap; she had her “Hubbell” moment with Big in front of The Plaza after his engagement party; the friends joined Samantha at chemo; Charlotte met her first husband after his cab hit her; and, Miranda instructed Big to “go get our girl.”

Now it’s about being older and wiser, career reinvention (Carrie’s become a podcaster), and making it more about your kids than yourself. I speak from experience when I say, it’s not as glamourous as maneuvering New York at 35, but it still can be satisfying.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the upcoming “The Last Single Woman in New York City,” to be published in 2022 by Heliotrope Books.