If you’re a devoted fan of “Sex and the City” who has yet to watched any of HBO Max’s sequel series “And Just Like That...” — and you’ve somehow avoided spoilers this long — please note that the following contains a major spoiler from the very first episode.
The series premiere of the new series ended with leading lady Carrie Bradshaw discovering that the man she’s loved for decades, her husband, John James Preston (aka Mr. Big), had collapsed. The two shared a brief, silent moment before his death. It was shocking, painful and for TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas, sadly relatable.
One year ago, on Dec. 1, 2020, Thomas lost her own husband, Michael Marion. Marion, who had had an ischemic stroke in 2019, died after spending several weeks in the hospital due to a bacterial infection that eventually led to multiple organ failure.
“Out of the blue, I received probably three or four texts within a few hours telling me not to watch the reboot of ‘Sex and the City' at all costs,” Thomas recalled in a video she shared on Instagram Tuesday. “And I, of course, right away thought, ‘Ugh! Of course, it has something to do with loss and losing someone,' and I definitely took the advice of some very dear friends and avoided the show.”
But the tragic plot development became a huge talking point shortly after the episode aired, and before long, Thomas couldn’t avoid the spoiler and even wondered if avoiding the show was “the best move” for her. After all, she thought, “I obviously know what happened and everybody’s talking about this, and how bad could it be?”
And then, like so many others had done, Thomas decided to finally watch the scene for herself.
In the episode, Carrie comes home to find Big collapsed in the shower after suffering a heart attack. Stunned, she holds him for his final breaths as her voiceover reveals, “And just like that, Big died.”
“Wow... I don’t even know how to keep going at this moment,” Thomas said in the raw Instagram clip. “It was interesting. I felt sort of numb. It wasn’t like this huge emotional reaction, but in some ways the numbness was paralyzing because it just slowed (things down). It’s almost like my heartbeat slowed, and it did suck me back into a space that I remembered time stood still.”
Since the premiere, many viewers have taken to social media to debate Carrie’s actions, or inactions, upon seeing Big. She didn’t immediately call 911 or frantically begin CPR, as some believed she should have.
Thomas had a message for those critical fans.
“For all those people out there who couldn’t understand why (Carrie) didn’t do X, Y or Z, as someone who has lived through that very, very horrible, very, very terrible moment, you can’t possibly fathom what somebody is feeling,” the 47-year-old explained. “Because you are not aware of your own physical being. You’re just in a space, and you are so searching for any ability to process something logically. It’s all just, in a cerebral sense, unavailable.”
Thomas stressed, “You can’t possibly know how somebody is going to react.” But she has some idea.
“I know she’s a fictional character, but the grace that should be allowed in that situation ... even if you know someone and have heard a story, please don’t judge,” she urged. “It is so important to spread kindness and to comfort, rather than come up with a judgement.”
And that’s what Thomas wants everyone to take away from this: A sense of understanding and compassion for her and for her “soulmates who are also carrying forward with loss.”
“The first year is survival, which I’ve learned, and year two is about really, from what I’m being told, living with the reality of your person not being here,” Thomas said in the clip. “I’m starting to experience that firsthand with holidays and the new year ahead. I just want to remind people what first literally vomited from my soul the first time I tried to type through tears: Please care. Please think about the one thing we all have to give this season. It is kindness. There is nothing more important that you could give to anyone, including yourself.”