Nya Deserved More on And Just Like That

It’s no secret that And Just Like That has stumbled when it comes to developing substantive storylines for its new (and, notably, BIPOC) characters. But while Che, Seema, and LTW have been given questionable plots, no one has been done as dirty by AJLT as Dr. Nya Wallace.

In season one, Nya was introduced as Miranda’s law professor, who was reconsidering her feelings towards motherhood after an unsuccessful round of IVF—while also re-evaluating her relationship with her musician husband, Andre Rashad, who was pressuring her to have a baby. By the end of it, Nya stayed true to her feelings of uncertainty about getting pregnant and decided to take some time apart from her husband, while he went away on tour. It was a relatable storyline that allowed us to get to know Nya in a nuanced way. In season two, however, any nuance given to Nya was discarded like Stanford’s material goods after he became a Shinto monk. Throughout season 2, Nya’s presence on the show was almost non-existent—and when she did appear, it was for the cringiest of scenes that mostly revolved around her spiraling after her breakup with her now-ex-husband.

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In AJLT’s defense, actor Karen Pittman had scheduling conflicts while filming the Sex and the City reboot and The Morning Show, which is a big reason why Nya hasn’t been as present in season 2. But that’s hardly an excuse for how the show portrayed Nya. Don’t forget: Nya is a beloved and tenured professor at Columbia Law, whose specialty is in human rights. She was unanimously elected to the American Law Institute within a week of being nominated. She has friends and a beautiful apartment in Brooklyn. So why has the majority of her scant time on screen been focused on her insecurities around the ending of her marriage, a storyline that’s resulted in the most humiliating and reductive situations?

It is ridiculous (even when talking about a show as far removed from reality as AJLT) to see Nya portrayed only as a woman completely undone by the end of her relationship. Of course, a breakup can be devastating, but we know there’s so much more to Nya than her romantic relationship. The problem is that we don’t get to see much beyond that. It’s frankly unfair to see Carrie have a grandiose reunion with Aidan on Valentine’s Day, while Nya buys cookbooks and bakes a chocolate souffle. It’s enraging to think about how she discovers the pleasures of a casual Tinder hookup, but is then unable to incorporate it into her life in a sustainable way because of her baggage with her ex. It is equally egregious and utterly unbelievable that Nya would find satisfaction, as AJLT posited, in buying a nearly $1,000 stroller for Andre and the backup singer from his tour with whom he’s now expecting a child. And when Nya finally does find a possible romantic connection, with a hot Michelin star chef she had a flirty run-in with at the beginning of season 2, we’re expected to suspend our disbelief at her lobbing completely out-of-character innuendos at him across the dinner table.

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For longtime fans of the franchise, the show’s treatment of Nya is all too familiar—it’s the same way Miranda was treated on Sex and the City, where she was perpetually subjected to the worst and most embarrassing storylines, a seeming punishment for being the character who, on paper, was the most ambitious, educated, and career-minded. This trend has also, unfortunately, continued for Miranda on AJLT (how else to explain her entire situation with Che?), but at least Miranda has had the time and space on this season to get to show other facets of her life, like her successful internship at the Human Rights Watch and her rich friendships with Carrie and Charlotte.

Nya, who ultimately chooses herself and her vision of the future in the first season, is shamefully limited to simply being seen as insecure and hung up on her ex now. These emotions are real, but they are not the only things that define Nya. Unfortunately, that’s really all we get to see of her this season, which does both the show and the viewers a disservice. Nya deserved a storyline that showed the fullness of her life beyond just her hurt. With AJLT renewed for a S3, here’s hoping Nya gets the justice she deserves.

Nya Deserved More on And Just Like That

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