And Just Like That hits back at Che Diaz hate with scathing focus group scene

Che Diaz in And Just Like That... season two episode five Trick or Treat.

And Just Like That … showrunner Michael Patrick King has confirmed that a focus group scene in the fifth episode of the show is a direct response to criticism of divisive character Che Diaz.

When HBO’s highly anticipated Sex and the City spin-off And Just Like That … landed at the tail-end of 2021, the internet was momentarily united by one thing: its hatred for non-binary comedian and podcast co-host Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez).

After incurring the wrath of viewers on social media for the caricatured and over-simplified portrayal of the non-binary experience, the second season of HBO’s hit show is tackling the Che Diaz criticism head-on.

In season two, Che is in Los Angeles pursuing their dreams to make it as a comedian in Hollywood with the support of their lover, Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon). After unsuccessfully pitching their sitcom idea starring a non-binary character, their insecurities come to a head in episode five, “Trick or Treat”.

Miranda and Che in And Just Like That...
Miranda and Che in And Just Like That… (HBO)

As their sitcom is torn apart by a Hollywood focus group, one non-binary participant brings Che to the brink of tears after calling their sitcom character “a walking Boomer joke” and “a bulls**t version” of the non-binary experience.

The onscreen insults levelled at Che’s sitcom are reminiscent of the criticism directed at Ramirez and their polarising character throughout the course of season one.

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Now, in an interview with TheWrap, showrunner Michael Patrick King has shared his reasons for including the scene.

“Season two of And Just Like That … – in regards to Che – has to start with the reaction to what season one of Che was, which was judging a book by the cover,” he explained.

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Although King admitted he “couldn’t understand” the backlash because “Sara Ramirez is a spectacular actor” he added: “I was like, ‘Okay, where’s this coming from? And what do we do with it?'”

This led to the shift from the “cockiness, bravura [and] sexuality” of season one Che to the “vulnerable, knocked for a loop, insecure” season two Che.

“I’ve been in many, many focus groups, and there’s always some wounding that happens in there,” King continued. “But what we really wanted to talk about was the fact that sometimes what you’re trying to do is not reflected, even by the people that you think you’re doing it for. It just says that you can’t have one experience speak for others.”

Cynthia Nixon (R) and Sara Ramirez, who plays balky non-binary comic Che Diaz. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max)

Elsewhere in the interview, Ramirez also explained that they were fully onboard with King’s artistic direction.

“Michael Patrick King and I had a meeting before season two even started,” they shared with the publication, “and we both agreed that it would be so exciting and interesting to see Che confront a system like Hollywood [where] the most authentic version of themselves is not welcomed.”

Ramirez has since set “really healthy boundaries” when it comes to the ongoing social media backlash, and even “welcomes” fans’ thoughts.

“As an artist and a storyteller who’s very clear about not being the characters they play, I am not really letting any kind of opinions into my process,” Ramirez reflected. “It was really fun to play a character that elicits a strong reaction and sparks really important conversations.”

Even so, many fans are still calling for Che’s removal from the show.

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And Just Like That … season two streams every Thursday on HBO Max in the US, and Sky and NOW in the UK.

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