Twenty-five years ago, this past June, the pilot episode of HBO’s Sex and the City premiered. While the initial season of the six-season show had a bit of a rocky start—remember Carrie talking directly to the camera?—it ended up becoming a cultural monolith during its run with imposters galore and after its run, shows that owed their cultural DNA to Carrie Bradshaw and company. But perhaps what SATC’s legacy might end up being is just how memorable it was in every aspect—from the fashion to the writing to the plots. Not a day goes by, for me at least, where a moment from the original doesn’t flicker in my brain—thinking about Carrie’s newspaper dress, Charlotte’s cardboard baby, Miranda’s chocolate cake addiction, Samantha’s many impeccable one-liners.
In late 2021, Max (then HBO Max) attempted to recreate the magic of SATC with And Just Like That…, a revival of the HBO series this time focused on Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte eleven years after 2010’s Sex and the City 2 movie (we must not ever speak about it) navigating love, friendships, and life in their 50s. When it premiered, fans were disappointed because And Just Like That… couldn’t get the magic of the original series quite right. It’s not that it’s not enjoyable, because it very much is, but there’s something lacking that the original had. For me, it’s something I can’t quite pinpoint—there’s still fun one-liners, great fashions, insane side plots—but it’s all a little muted. Many think that this is due to the absence of Kim Cattrall as Samantha, who refused to come back (at least until the finale) as her iconic character because of a long-running feud between her and Sarah Jessica Parker. But maybe it was also just a first season because season two, which ended this week, in its last several episodes feels like it’s hit a stride that has felt the closest to the original show with one exception—Sarita Choudhury’s Seema Patel—who has felt like she was plucked out of the original series.
We’re first introduced to Seema in season one, when Carrie meets her in episode four when she’s ready enough to begin the process of selling the apartment that she shared with Big, after his untimely death. She comes in like a whirlwind swathed in champagne-colored silk in her car with the license plate “SEEMA NYC.” Seema is brutally honest with Carrie about redecorating the place—the two share a cigarette and a friendship is born. Throughout the first season as both the audience and Carrie get to know Seema, we learn she’s fabulously single, unapologetic about never settling, looks amazing in an animal print, makes smoking look too cool, and calls Carrie out on her bullshit.
In a first season that had trouble finding its footing, Seema always felt like the lifeline not just for the first season but one that felt that it connected And Just Like That… to Sex and the City. She’s a character you could very easily imagine Carrie meeting when she finds out that her apartment is turning into a co-op or even Miranda meeting when she first buys her place. Of course, the obvious answer is how she feels like a tether to the much-missed Samantha. The similarities are obvious—they are both strong-willed, honest, fabulous creatures who never miss a witty quip. But Seema is still very much her own creation aside from her similarities to Samantha—which imagine the two of them together—it would be incredible.
In season one, she does come so fully formed in the AJLT universe that in this second season as her and Carrie’s friendship deepens and she becomes more enmeshed with the group that Seema becomes one of the main reasons that season two finally feels like it has some of the tendrils from the original. Perhaps the best example of this is in episode 8, after Carrie has got back together with Aidan and desperately wants Seema to meet him. She begins avoiding Carrie and when the two accidentally end up at the same hair salon—Seema gives Carrie and herself some hard truths to navigate.
And this is exactly one of the things that the original did well and that’s been missing from the new iteration. Granted, I was 15 when I first watched SATC and in my feeble teenage brain thought I understood what was going on with Carrie and the gang—it wasn’t until I recently rewatched well into my thirties when I finally did. That’s where Seema’s speech about maybe not finding a great love, and simultaneously being okay with that, but also being honest about how spending time with Carrie and Aidan together would make her feel and honoring that feeling, hits so hard because it puts into words a feeling that so many of us have felt but maybe haven’t uttered. An emotional truth that’s just a little too agonizing to let oneself fully recognize or live in. And in true Samantha fashion, Seema shows up to that dinner with Aidan—fabulously late in black sequins, smiling at Carrie. Much like Samantha, Seema is always going to show up. Of course, the power of this speech and the charisma of Seema owes it all to the incredible, and dare I say Emmy-worthy, performance from Sarita Choudhury who infuses the character with an honest warmth—which comes off as approachable yet truth-telling.
And Just Like That… finally gave me something that I’ll think about regularly (aside from Carrie’s monochrome emerald green outfit in episode 9) alongside when Carrie calls Big Hubbell from The Way We Were, Charlotte’s “I’ve been dating since I was 15” speech, Miranda’s proposal to Steve over cheap beers, and when Samantha has breast cancer and asks Carrie to let her “talk about what I’m afraid of, please.” Seema’s words will stick with me long after And Just Like That… airs which I hope will be forever, and now that season three has been greenlit, will hopefully give many more memories from Seema to come.