This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
My therapist said that Che Diaz can’t hurt me.
Still, I couldn’t help but wonder, how long will it take for these scars, this trauma inflicted by the indisputable worst character on television, to heal?
I am an And Just Like That… apologist. Yes, there are moments of HBO Max’s Sex and the City sequel series that are absolutely mortifying to watch, but I find there to be some verisimilitude to that. There’s no way these characters would adapt to a new generation and era of social mores without teetering in their stilettos trying to navigate things.
Is that different from the aspirational and sexy vibes of the original SATC? Of course. But in a great piece for Vox this week, writer Alex Abad-Santos underscored how that might be the point. The series “finds the demented comedy in life’s humiliations,” he writes. The reboot “isn’t just about being fabulous. It’s about reckoning with your obsolescence.”
Be that as it may, the series is nothing if not polarizing. For everyone delighting in the indefatigable charms of Sarah Jessica Parker each week, there are those who seem to be personally offended by the series’ lapse in quality. (I think it’s gotten better and better each week. On the other hand, The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, who is an authority on the legacy of the original series, tweeted, “Ok, I gave this SATC sequel 5.5 eps. I’m out. It’s not fun-bad, it’s just bad.”
Yet in these divisive times—in all things related to Carrie Bradshaw or otherwise—there is comfort in knowing that there is one thing that seems to have united us all: a passionate hatred for the Che Diaz character on And Just Like That…
There is no exaggerating how insufferable this character is. To call them unwatchable is not hyperbole. “Cringing” is not a strong enough verb to describe what the body reflexively does when they are on screen, like a physical defense mechanism. It’s more like an elaborate tuck and roll off the couch followed by an army crawl to hide under the bed before letting out a high-pitched scream of “No!” like the one I learned to do from Oprah during an episode of her talk show on how to protect yourself from being abducted.
Che, played by Grey’s Anatomy alum Sara Ramirez, is one of the new characters added to the series in a woke panic, meant to address the original run’s cardinal sin of unforgivable whiteness—a lack of diversity that would of course need to be rectified in any sort of reboot or revival. Several of these characters are truly captivating; I’m loving the friendship being formed between Carrie and Sarita Choudhury’s Seema Patel, a dynamic that is starting to fill the void of the Carrie-Samantha friendship, if not necessarily the unapologetic raunchiness.
Every moment Che Diaz is on screen, however, is absolutely mortifying.
They are Carrie’s gender nonbinary, pansexual boss, who hired her to cohost a podcast about gender and sexuality. It’s actually a shrewd creative decision to introduce a character that forces these privileged, multimillionaire white boomers to fumble their way into a progressive mindset.
It’s nice to see how casual, yet serious Carrie is about taking Che’s identity at face value and getting used to using different pronouns. That Che would provide a mirror through which Charlotte starts to understand her own daughter is kind of beautiful. That they would be the catalyst for Miranda’s sexual awakening was telegraphed a mile away. The storyline is good, though the Che stuff itself is nearly impossible to watch.
How unfortunate that a character like this is so heinous. No one wants to single out the only new LGBTQ+ character on a series as the worst. Yet Che Diaz leaves us no choice.
There should be conversation about gender, sex, and queerness in a modern Sex and the City telling. And it should be jarring. It should be destabilizing for these women. It should also make sense, and be delivered in a way that remotely resembles how an actual human talks or behaves.
Whether it’s the content of their podcast or everything that is said in what have become the four most harrowing words in the last 12 months of television—“Che Diaz’s comedy concert”—whatever wokeness, enlightenment, or edginess that is supposed to be happening lands with all the grace of me tripping over my laptop charger cord while getting up to get another glass of wine on a Friday night.
It’s not provocative, and certainly not intelligent. In fact, it comes off as if a smarmy far-right pundit or creator was satirizing or parodying those conversations and the left’s wokeness addiction. That’s how broad and obtuse it is.
The interactions between Che and Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda are hard to watch. That’s not because of any discomfort with the queer attraction being explored. It’s because Che is unhinged. The shotgunning of weed off a vape pen. The fingerbanging in Carrie’s kitchen while Carrie pees her bed. The instruction to Miranda to “DM me” if she wants to hang out again. It’s hard to put into words the vibe, other than to say the vibe is unsettling. Every time someone calls Miranda “Rambo,” an angel loses their wings.
Blessedly, Che only appears in flashback to the aforementioned kitchen fingering in this week’s episode, but their presence looms large as the catalyst for a serious discussion between Miranda, Charlotte and Carrie about what Miranda is doing and how this affair could explode her life. It’s beautifully acted. It’s the best scene of the episode. It’s all we could ask for, after weathering these last six weeks of And Just Like That…: talking about Che, but not having to hear from Che.
If, like me, you have the great misfortune of being unable to remove your eyeballs from your Twitter timeline—it’s a disease—then you’ve seen that I am not alone in my thoughts about Che Diaz.
For the past few weeks, even on days when a new episode of And Just Like That… hasn’t dropped, there’s been a non-stop barrage of posts dragging the character for filth, whether it’s comparing them to Omicron or illustrating the terror one feels anytime they introduce themselves on their podcast: “Hey! It’s Che Diaz!”
Where does Che Diaz rank in the pantheon of horrible TV characters? I’m not sure they’re as bad as Ellis Boyd from Smash or Dana Brody from Homeland. They might give April from Gilmore Girls a run for her money. They’re at least as annoying as Ani from 13 Reasons Why. Is this a Cousin Oliver/Brady Bunch series killer? It’s too early to tell. That, actually, is the disappointing thing here.
There’s something admirable in the messiness of this series—and appropriate for a group of women unmoored as life’s circumstances force them to figure out, yet again, who they are and what they want from the world, not to mention how to exist in it as it changes around them. Yet from what I can tell, the biggest talking points thus far haven’t been about that, but about Peloton, the disturbing accusations against Chris Noth, and how unbearable Che Diaz is. It would be a shame if the series doesn’t get another season because these things have overshadowed any true examination of the show.
And just like that, in spite of Che Diaz, here we are defending this series again.