Miranda and Che take L.A. in ‘And Just Like That’ ... and their actors have some theories about fan backlash

Cynthia Nixon and Sara Ramírez cuddle in bed in "And Just Like That..."
Cynthia Nixon, left, and Sara Ramírez’s characters temporarily relocate to L.A. in “And Just Like That...” Season 2.
(Craig Blankenhorn)

This post contains spoilers from Season 2, Episode 3 of “And Just Like That...”

Since time immemorial — or at least since “Annie Hall” — pop culture has loved to send tightly wound New Yorkers to the West Coast and watch them squirm uncomfortably in the sunshine.

In Season 2, “And Just Like That...” followed this hallowed tradition by relocating TV’s most polarizing couple — lawyer-turned-grad student Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) and nonbinary comedian Che Diaz (Sara Ramírez) — to Los Angeles while the latter makes a sitcom pilot.


At first, the couple seems to be enjoying a honeymoon phase fueled by bouts of hot-tub sex, strap-on experimentation and a charming rental house with a pool. But cracks quickly appear in the relationship. Miranda, who left her stagnant marriage to Steve (David Eigenberg) to be with Che, finds herself with too much free time on her hands and wondering how well she really knows her partner. After volunteering to clean up a beach in Malibu and promptly losing her phone in piles of seaweed, Miranda gets a ride home from Lyle (Oliver Hudson) who turns out to be Che’s estranged husband. (The couple never officially divorced.)

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Meanwhile, Che is struggling with the pressures of making a semi-autobiographical broadcast sitcom and is forced to go on a diet, rewrite their ethnic heritage and cry in a maudlin scene with their onscreen dad (played by Tony Danza).

In this week’s episode, “Chapter Three,” Miranda’s phone goes off in the middle of Che’s pilot taping, interrupting a pivotal scene: It’s Brady calling from Europe, distraught after a breakup. Che is furious that Miranda, of all people, spoiled their big moment, but ultimately supports Miranda as she races back to New York to help her despondent son.

And just like that, the couple’s California fantasy bubble bursts.

Sara Ramírez as Che Diaz in front of the Comedy Store sign in "And Just Like That..."
Sara Ramírez’s Che Diaz performs a “comedy concert” at the Comedy Store in “And Just Like That...”
(Craig Blankenhorn)

California as Edenic bubble

Astute fans of “Sex and the City” will recall that the show traveled to L.A. for a two-episode arc in Season 3 that made much of the supposed cultural differences between the two cities. (Carrie dates an impostor posing as a big-time agent, while Miranda is horrified to discover that her old friend, a late-night writer now working on a sitcom, spits up everything he eats after a few chews.)

“It was kind of ballsy to take Miranda away from New York for three episodes, but it was worth it because I knew it would be evocative and cool and authentic,” said “And Just Like That...” showrunner Michael Patrick King, who lives in L.A.


The goal of these three episodes, set in locations including Neptune’s Net, the Comedy Store and the Warner Bros. lot, was to capture two contradictory aspects of the city: its intoxicating, Garden of Eden-like natural beauty — the “[Henri] Rousseau painting of it all” — contrasted with the harsher realities of Hollywood and “the buzz saw of creating TV pilots.”

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“On one side, you have this lush, fertile garden,” he said. “And on the other side, you have, like, a mulch machine.”

“Miranda has that experience that a lot of New Yorkers have when they first arrive in Los Angeles,” said Nixon. “Specifically, where it seems like a dream, and kind of too good to be true. And then, of course, it is too good to be true.”

Even the house where Miranda and Che are staying — a picturesque bungalow with a lush garden tucked away behind a larger home — was meant to evoke a fantasy version of Southern California, said King. “When I first moved to L.A. from New York, I had an experience like that. It felt like the opposite of New York, which is why I went to L.A. — for the flora and fauna, and the hummingbirds and the hot tubs.” (Adding to the impression of L.A. as an escape, this episode depicted New York as overrun with violent crime.)

Che and Miranda are going through “their second and third adolescence with each other in Los Angeles,” said Ramírez. “They’re both fish out of water. We get to see how they navigate that individually and together, which makes for a lot of awkwardness and rich comedy moments.”

About that backlash

“AJLT’s” California arc also allowed the show to explore Che’s more vulnerable side and bring some much-needed dimension to a divisive character who — perhaps you heard? — faced major backlash in Season 1. The pot-smoking podcast host sparked countless memes and lit up group chats across the country, with many fans furious that Miranda blew up her marriage to Steve.


For their part, Ramírez thinks fans upset about Che should take it up with the writers.

“It’s interesting how many conversations this character has brought,” Ramírez said. “I think it’s great that people have critiques, that people have thoughts about the writing. I encourage people to talk to the writers about that. That is who they need to be conveying this to.

“My concern is more about real-life queer, trans and nonbinary people. How are we translating all this energy, all this time and all this effort we’re putting into these conversations about a fictional character? How are we translating that into how we show up in the real world? Because we need to care about that too. People are being legislated out of existence.”

Similarly, Nixon thinks the reaction was rooted in discomfort with nonbinary people, paraphrasing actor Lea DeLaria, “When butchness or nonbinariness is put out front and center, it freaks people out.”

King was puzzled by the extent to which Che was blamed for the affair with Miranda. He contends that Che was merely the match and Miranda was “the bonfire.”

One of the goals of Season 2, he said, was to explore the collateral damage of Miranda’s decision to, as he put it, “follow her heart instead of her head for the first time in her life.”

“We wanted to let people see who else Che is. I felt like everybody judged a book by the cover. So we wanted to open the book and show new sides to Che,” he said.


Yet even Ramírez acknowledged that Che “got away with so much in Season 1.”

“We needed to see them confront some uncomfortable things,” said the actor. “I always wondered why Carrie never spoke to Che about [having sex] with Miranda [in her kitchen]. There was a lack of accountability.

“What’s so cool about ‘Sex and the City’ is the original had this way of exposing life as this roller-coaster ride, where just when you think you’ve had a win, you get a pie in the face two seconds later. Che got a lot of wins. And in Season 2, we’re gonna see a lot more pies in the face.”

Cynthia Nixon as Miranda at the beach in Malibu in "And Just Like That..."
Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda volunteers for a beach clean-up in Malibu in “And Just Like That...”
(Craig Blankenhorn)

Into the buzz saw of showbiz

Being in L.A. — and especially working in Hollywood — dredges up insecurities that Che managed to keep hidden back in New York.

“The biggest complaint that I heard is that Che is way too cocky and too sure of themselves and too confident,” said King. “Well, nothing will shake you up more than a pilot, especially when it’s a pilot based on your own personal legacy. It’s just a perfect storm for challenges.”

Che is excited about making a show about their life, but gets caught up in “a system that wants to flatten their identity in order to make a lot of other people happy,” said Ramírez, who was a regular on “Grey’s Anatomy” for more than a decade and related to some of the pressure their character faced.


“I worked in Los Angeles for a really long time, and my biggest challenge was around my internalized fatphobia, around the size of my body and the various shapes that I felt I had to contort myself into in order to succeed. When we tap into that part of Che’s storyline, that was familiar territory for me.”

The point of having Miranda’s phone go off in the middle of Che’s pilot was “to show the difference between a televised family scene and Miranda’s real family drama,” said King.

Nixon believes that Miranda, who always put her professional and family life first, was in flight mode when she left for California.

“I think Miranda’s sojourn in L.A. was a little bit of running away — running away from responsibility, running away from ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life?,’ running away from ex-husband, who I’m still married to, and his incredible shock and anger with me,” said Nixon. “There was a fantasy happening.”

It’s not clear what the future holds for her relationship with Che, but it was time for her to return to New York and address unresolved family matters.

Most important said Ramírez, it’s what the boss wanted.

“I don’t think Michael Patrick King wanted us in L.A. that long.”