Carrie and Aidan Always Belonged Together

I have a strange relationship with Sex and the City. It is one of my favorite shows in TV history, and I also think that one of the most important story arcs of Sex and the City is horrendous. Yet I still love the show. I don’t understand how both things are true, other than that I guess everything else besides this one piece of the show that I hate is so good that it makes up for its terribleness: Big (Chris Noth) and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) should never have ended up together.

I don’t care to admit how many times I’ve rewatched Sex and the City, which I do often because there’s something about the show that feels healing to me—that is, until I again get to the final episode and again want to throw something at my TV screen when Big rescues Carrie from Paris. While, sure, I understand that Sex and the City is a romantic fantasy in which the single gal gets her happy ending in the form of the man she chased for years finally committing to her—but I also hate that the man is Big! If you watched Sex and the City, you know: Big sucks.

This aggravation is top of mind this week because, in the latest episode of Max’s And Just Like That, there’s revisionist history happening which some fans I’ve spoken to are annoyed by, but which I think is perfect.

Carrie, seemingly out of the blue, emails her ex-fiance, Aidan (John Corbett), which leads to them reuniting in New York, now that they’re both single. (Aidan is divorced; Carrie is a widow, following Big’s death-by-Peloton.) Aside from Carrie’s willingness to overlook a shockingly hideous coat that Aidan wears when they meet, their connection is electric, as if a spark from when they first met 23 years ago has traveled through space and time to light up their rekindled relationship.

The speed of their intimacy is, on the one hand, ludicrous. Carrie’s grief over Big’s death is still very much a dominant storyline; Aidan doesn’t even live in New York; and then there’s the small matter of Carrie having been an absolute piece of shit to him all those years ago. Aidan, to his credit, acknowledges this, with his refusal to go back into the apartment they once shared because it’s too painful—leading to the bizarre twist in which the two of them sublet Che’s (Sara Ramirez) Hudson Yards apartment as an urgently needed love shack. How could they so quickly move past that complicated history?

On the other hand, there’s the other major part of what’s happened in these last two episodes since Aidan’s return: My god, Parker and Corbett have undeniable, irresistible chemistry. When her friends wonder if things are moving too fast, Carrie says, “If it feels right—and it does—why slow it down?” It’s a fair point in general, in that surrendering to any romance is inherently reckless. But it’s also gratifying—at least to me, as a Sex and the City fan. Carrie and Aidan always felt right. It’s why it was so maddening to see her treat him so poorly and make such sabotaging decisions. Aidan didn’t deserve that; neither did their love.

Ostensibly, Carrie’s behavior—cheating on Aidan with Big; breaking up her engagement to Aidan—was in the service of making sure Big and Carrie end up together. I hated that! Big was horrible to Carrie for so long, stringing her along in demeaning ways, until randomly he was ready to commit to her. So when Carrie, in a fabulously acted scene by Parker, admits years later, “I’ve been asking myself, was Big a big mistake?” I reflexively clapped.

Photo of Sarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett in 'And Just Like That.'

Yes, it’s a sentiment that’s tantamount to heresy within the show’s Bible. It’s especially confusing in the context of And Just Like That, a sequel series that made the decision to portray Carrie and Big’s marriage, all these years later, as very happy and healthy. I understand that a line that seems to fly in the face of what we know about these characters and this show can feel like a betrayal to some fans. But to other fans (me), who have differing, passionate opinions (Big is the worst!), it’s easier to forgive: It validates how I’ve always felt about the show.

There’s perhaps an even more important line near the end of the episode, when Che meets Aidan for the first time. They see how much he and Carrie are swooning over each other, and how easy their new relationship already seems. What happened that they weren’t together this whole time? “I made a mistake,” Carrie tells Che, devastated. That’s the series course-correction that we should get behind. She made a mistake—yer darn tootin’ she did—which is easier to swallow as a fan (because it’s true) than the earlier dismissal of her and Big’s entire history together.

These last two episodes of the show have almost seemed like fan fiction for me, because I’ve always thought that Aidan and Carrie belonged together, but given everything that happened between them, it could never make sense. And just like that, though, it finally does.

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