Female friendships are not the new romance or the new sex. They’re a cultural barometer for how secure and united humanity is. The less stable the world, the more we want to see women supporting one another on screen, in books, and online and, as And Just Like That returns for a second season, no matter if you loved or loathed the sex and the city reboot, I can *almost* guarantee you’ll tune in once again. Plus, it’s legit that our friendships while growing up shape our future prosperity—this Harvard University study says so.

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sex and the city—and, by extension, And Just Like That—broke ground for how these nuanced relationships were depicted on-screen. Such was its cultural impact that this affluent, energetic foursome became a benchmark against which many women experiencing adulthood in the noughts measured and compared their own friendship group, analyzing who was a Carrie, the Samantha, the Miranda, and the Charlotte.

Sure, there are elements of Sex And The City that have not aged well and there’s no way in hell it would pass the Bechdel Test (a feminist assessment of whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man). But the inventor of the test herself, Alison Bechdel, said Despite that, she’s still the show’s “number one fan”.

Today’s world and the political, social, and cultural dynamics have inevitably shifted the way we, as women, relate to one another. Arguably, women’s friendships are more intense in their ferocity, generosity, passion, and angst when our world feels smaller, crueler and more threatening.

and it es a threatening world for women. Women are still routinely paid less than their male counterparts for the same work; are more inclined to live below or barely above the poverty line; raise children, care for their elders and extended family without pay; are the victims of physical and sexual violence in growing numbers; are disproportionately the victims of war-time rape; and disproportionately experience mental illness and medical neglect.

Under repressive, women-hating regimes, women know that they are each other’s allies. There is a common experience that empowers women to act together and protect one another when it would be deadly to stand up to authority alone. Yes, Iran and Afghanistan are the most obvious examples of where women-led uprisings have threatened brutal men with a revolution, but, much closer to home, women have rallied to topple hateful men from their podiums.

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Trump—the first President to be caught on tape crowing about the vulgar freedoms of famous, rich men: “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything,” which prompted the 2017 Women’s March. Then, of course, there’s been the Trump of the Tropics, Brazil’s ex-President (currently in Florida), Jair Bolsonaro, who told a newspaper that congresswoman Maria do Rosario was “not worth raping, she is very ugly.”

It is unsurprising, with political leaders representing a dark, violent underbelly of society, that our screens and literature reflect female friendships that thrived in times that parallel our current era socially and culturally. But it is not only a savage world that has altered women’s friendships. In the last decade, liberated ideas of gender, relationships and sexuality have allowed us to view our friendships as not secondary or less valid than our romantic ones, but equally important. The idea that one person can satisfy all your needs “till death do you part” feels outdated and the concept of your spouse being your best friend as well is being called into question.

Adult women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have experienced their own and their parents’ divorces at higher rates than generations past. Celebrity women increasingly come out, identify as queer, bi, or pansexual, and change their pronouns, without requiring full-caps headlines in mainstream media. Women know that the idealistic romances of fairy tales, novels, movies and an entire section of bookstores (remember them?) are a rarity, and not even aspirational. Dating apps, rather than being a treasure trove of desirable, available men, are increasingly becoming a digital means of stalking, trolling, threatening and even carrying out emotional, violent physical and sexual assaults on women.

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In various recent conversations with women I’d never met previously, it only took minutes for us to reveal the recent experiences we’d had with men threatening us while walking our dogs, being inappropriately touched or groped, followed or hollered at. While a sustainable friendship is not built upon common suffering, the sense of unity that women can find in knowing we are not alone in a very particular context (being objectified by half the world) can enable a shared language and the beginnings of trust and joy in being together.

In the world of literature, Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s 2022 novel Woman of Light
revealed female friendships in the most heartbreaking, lovely and unforgettable ways. Fajardo-Anstine’s multi-generational novel of an Indigenous Chicano family—and specifically the matrilineage—reveals the systemic racism, violence, and patriarchy that have crushed women and disposed of them of their independence, security, and value in one era after another. When we meet the beautiful, clever and curious Luz Lopez, she is struggling to identify as an American in a society that refuses to allow her recognition and acceptance of her. Over and over, she is told that her kind of her are not welcome in parks, on buses, in particular buildings or dining rooms. It might have crushed her spirit de ella, were it not for her cousin de ella Lizette, who is whip-smart and mouthy whereas Luz is quieter and more observant.

There is a poignant conversation between the two as children, many years before Lizette marries and Luz is cheated on, lusted after and abandoned.
“What if we don’t want to find true loves? Can’t we just be by ourselves? asks 10-year-old Luz.
“I never seen anything about that. Just nuns,” Lizette replies. “But you know what? Even they have each other and God.”
“Well, we have each other too,” Luz replies.

It harkens back to Charlotte’s revelation in sex and the city season four when Carrie laments being 35 without a man to call her soulmate. She says Charlotte, “Maybe we can be each other’s soulmates. And then we can let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.”

It is not that all men are awful, nor that the world is savage, chaotic mess, nor that marriages are doomed, and dating is a minefield. But… it sort of is. And in a time when loneliness reigns and we communicate with one another remotely more often than we see each other, the ability for women to find solace in one another, whether old friends or new, is a necessary sanctuary in the storm. If nothing else, we can curl up on the couch and watch And Just Like Thatsimply because it feels good to do so.

And Just Like That is available to stream on Max. Here’s how to watch it for free

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