Carrie Bradshaw isn’t the problem with And Just Like That…. Her wealth is.

The character who once had fans proudly dubbing themselves “a Carrie” has become just another rich white woman, the exact type of person she used to mock

Carrie Bradshaw isn’t the problem with And Just Like That…. Her wealth is.
Sarah Jessica Parker Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max

An element of financial fantasy has always coursed through the Sex And The City universe. Even before the film franchise whisked our well-heeled foursome of Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, Samantha Jones, and Charlotte York-Goldenblatt to private Mexican villas and opulent Abu Dhabi resorts, the O.G. HBO series had a weekly columnist at a second-tier New York newspaper affording a studio apartment on the Upper East Side—here, as with Monica Gellar’s unfathomably sprawling West Village two-bedroom, the phrase “rent controlled” is frequently flung around to soften viewer skepticism—all while maintaining a lifestyle of urban ease well outside her tax bracket.

You rarely saw Carrie Bradshaw on public transit. (Her real-life proxy Sarah Jessica Parker, however, is delightfully an MTA regular.) Her meals were regularly consumed at restaurants, her oven instead relegated to designer-sweater storage. And she canonically owned a shoe collection worth $40,000, a pecuniary stretch even when she was making a mythical “$4 a word” while freelancing at Vogue.

But that personal finance portfolio got considerably, well, bigger after Mr. Big came into the picture, and even more so when he left it. (In case you’ve skipped the franchise expansion, John “Big” Preston suffered a Peloton-related heart attack in the premiere episode of the Max spin-off series And Just Like That….) “I don’t want you to write a thousand words about purses. I want you to give a hundred thousand dollars … due to tragic circumstances, your pockets recently got deeper,” Carrie’s erstwhile Vogue editor Enid Frick (Candice Bergen) tactlessly tells her at a fundraising event in a season-two episode of AJLT, a sum at which our now wealthy widow barely bats an eye.

Carrie now has champagne problems

And, tragically, it’s those very deep pockets that have rendered Bradshaw—the socially aspirational but emotionally messy everywoman that once had fans proudly dubbing themselves “a Carrie”—unrecognizable from the character we’ve known for a quarter of a century. All of that passive income has made Mrs. Preston quite passive, indeed, our Cosmo-loving gal now dulled by champagne problems.

The original series at least criticized Carrie’s frivolous spending habits, most notably in the season-four episode “Ring A Ding Ding,” when she was forced to buy back her apartment following her break-up with Aidan. After getting turned down for a loan—apparently, a closet full of Manolo Blahniks isn’t actually considered an “asset”—and tearing up a generous check from her then-ex Mr. Big, “broke friend” Carrie basically wealth-shames Charlotte into handing over her hefty 2.17-karat engagement ring to pawn for a down payment.

The show offset some of that spendthrift vice by giving early Carrie scrappy virtues. Especially in the first few seasons, which were laced with interview segments of Carrie’s various column subjects, her professional grind was more apparent—her nights spent out at trendy restaurants and industry events seemed less pure social indulgence than article research and inspiration. Now, thanks to that Big inheritance, Carrie 2.0 doesn’t actually need to work and even as the spin-off accessorizes her life with podcast shows and book tours, she approaches her career with a blasé leisureliness that seems foreign to the person who once had less than $1,000 in her savings. (Her response to said podcast getting canceled and its entire production team fired due to her simply not wanting to read vagina-related ad copy on air? “And just like that … I freed up my entire week.”)

Before becoming grossly entrenched in the one percent, the working creative often clashed with the upper class. In the fittingly titled season-two SATC episode “The Caste System,” Carrie attends a high society cocktail party as Big’s plus one. “Oh god, I hate Park Avenue. It’s like being in a foreign country,” she tells him. “Just think of me as your passport, baby,” he retorts. Back then, Carrie was simply a tourist in Big’s moneyed world—a complicated K-K-Katie with c-c-curly hair uncomfortably on the arm of a rich, WASPy Hubble of a man, much more at home out on the terrace sharing a cig with her tattooed performance-artist buddy who just happened to be the party’s cater waiter.

Unabashed and unironic wealth

In And Just Like That…, however, Carrie has fully relocated from everywoman relatability to that world of absurd affluence. It’s fitting that the gaudy, bejeweled swan clutch that Big bought her in “The Caste System”—the same “just wrong” handbag on the arm of every other white-and-wealthy woman at that Park Avenue affair, the same purse that made Carrie realize, to her horror, that Big didn’t actually know her at all—pops up in AJLT in the form of an insane JW Anderson pigeon purse, which Carrie now wears unabashedly and unironically. She has become yet another rich white woman, the exact type of person she once mocked.

The Carrie of yesteryear was not entirely down to earth, but she at least was somewhat grounded. However, where she once feared having to vacate her beloved Upper East Side studio because of insufficient funds, she can now buy and sell a multimillion-dollar condo within mere days and it’s barely a plot point. Where she would once skip out on eating dinner to afford issues of Vogue (“I felt it fed me more”), she now bumps elbows with Anna Wintour herself at the Met Gala (and conveniently has an entire Vivienne Westwood gown in her closet when her first-choice fashion look falls flat). Where she once not only befriended but proudly identified as the creative class, she now encloses herself in a gated community of profuse money and privilege. (It’s not a shock that Carrie’s closest new friend in AJLT is Seema Patel—the show’s attempt at filling the Samantha Jones absence—a Birkin bag-swinging, private-driver-having luxury real-estate broker.)

The Real Housewives Of New York City just debuted six new personalities, each one of them, like Ms. Bradshaw, equipped with a well-stocked wardrobe, a hefty bank account and some plush New York real estate. But even their clearly drummed-up daily dramas, no doubt intensified by producers, feel more authentic and relatable than the glossy trappings of Carrie’s new-money life. Once upon a time, Carrie Bradshaw was real. Now she’s just really rich.

 
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