Pop Culture

Cynthia Nixon Thinks Miranda Critics Should Take a Look in the Mirror

When Cynthia Nixon returned to the Sex and the City fold last year for And Just Like That…, she was thrilled to let Miranda off the leash. Extricating herself from her moribund marriage and ditching her staid corporate law career, Nixon’s character plunged into a new relationship with Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez), a nonbinary podcaster, stand-up comedian, and all-around divisive character. As the second season opens, Miranda—the most cynical and career-minded of the original quartet—has given up her dream internship in order to fly to Los Angeles with Che, who is shooting a sitcom pilot called Che Pasa. And just like that, Miranda is Alice in Queer Wonderland, exploring Che’s collection of strap-on harnesses and exultantly declaring herself, “the new me—best me ever!”

“She’s gone down the rabbit hole,” Nixon says by phone from her New York home, laughing affectionately. “It is something that happens to you when you’re in a new relationship and everything seems new—all the possibilities seem endless. The tough stuff hasn’t happened yet.”

Nixon herself has made it through plenty of tough stuff, including her 2018 run for governor of New York. She is baffled by some of the criticisms lobbed at the show (and her character). Ahead of the second season premiere on June 22, Nixon talks openly and thoughtfully about it all: She ponders why Che rubs people the wrong way, how Miranda’s desire to be more culturally sensitive made viewers uncomfortable, and how she really feels about the brief return of Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones.

Vanity Fair: And Just Like That… picks up where season one left off, with Miranda embarking on a new life. How is her ongoing transformation manifesting this season?

Cynthia Nixon: We get to different points in our life, we turn corners and all of a sudden everything seems amazing. I think we all know it’s not going to last. But Miranda—I think she’s in love. She’s come out of her marriage that was sort of killing her by degrees, and after years of slogging away at a corporate law firm, she’s embarked on this new legal journey of trying to help people who need it. She’s got the California euphoria, she doesn’t have any commitments, and she’s living with her lover who’s starting a TV series.

Miranda has always been the one with the cynical perspective. I imagine that some of that might slip back in at some point?

When we see her on the phone to Carrie, explaining how she broke up with Steve—she was like, “I’m in a romcom, Carrie!” Miranda never saw herself as that kind of girl. She never thought that this was going to be in the offing for her, especially not at this late stage of life. [laughs]

Poor Steve is in another kind of movie now.

Yes, he is.

There was always so much discussion while Sex and the City was on the air—was the show feminist enough, were characters too sexual or not enough? But were you at all taken aback by some of the criticism Miranda got last season?

I am not a person who follows that stuff, but even I got the gist of it, mostly from what reporters were saying to me. And I was really surprised by it. I feel like well-meaning white women have a lot to learn—that’s just the bottom line. Maybe you could say every person in the world has a lot to learn, but I’m not talking about every person in the world. I’m just talking about well-meaning white women. And I think, frankly, that there were white women who watched the show, who were like: Miranda is smarter than that. Miranda is better than that. Miranda is farther evolved than that. It’s like, well, why is she? Because if she isn’t, that means you aren’t either? Maybe you aren’t either. I think that’s the whole thing.

People felt personally criticized.

Yeah. “If Miranda is gonna put her foot in her mouth this way, maybe I’m a little bit more of a doofus than I think I am, too.” But we’re all doofuses, and Miranda is always someone who has charged in headfirst and then has to backtrack and fix the damage. So it totally makes sense that she would do this, in her desire to be more—for lack of a better word—woke. To be a little more sensitive to the world around her that has sort of escaped her attention up until now.

Yes, we are all doofuses.

That was, to me, always the beauty of the [original] show, right? ….Carrie smokes too much and spends too much money on shoes and dates the wrong guy, and Charlotte is walking around in a fog about what she’s supposed to want out of life. And Miranda is so focused on her career that she’s kind of a bitch. The point is that you want to see these women, and you want to empathize with them and identify with them and aspire to them. You want to see them with all their faults and all their failings and mistakes.

When SATC first came on, there was nothing else like it. So criticism was brought to bear on this show as the pop culture arbiter of women.

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