‘And Just Like That’: Scathing Focus Group Scene Was a Response to All Those Che Diaz Jokes

“I couldn’t understand it because I think Sara Ramirez is a spectacular actor,” EP Michael Patrick King tells TheWrap

Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) (Photo Credit: Max)
Sara Ramírez as Che Diaz in "And Just Like That…" (Max)

Note: This story contains spoilers from “And Just Like That” Season 2, Episode 5.

The biggest moment in “And Just Like That” Episode 5, titled “Trick or Treat,” has to do with a focus group. As Che (Sara Ramirez) sat on the other side of a one-way glass mirror and heard feedback on their upcoming sitcom, the comedian agreed with several of the notes. It’s only when another nonbinary person from Brooklyn calls Che a “walking Boomer joke” that their face falls.

It’s a scene that should be familiar to any fan of the Max comedy series, especially if they happened to be part of the Che-hating Twitter discourse from last year.

“Season 2 of ‘And Just Like That’ — in regards to Che — has to start with the reaction to what Season 1 of Che was, which was judging a book by the cover,” series developer and executive producer Michael Patrick King told TheWrap.

Shortly after Ramirez’s character was introduced in 2021, the Che Diaz jokes began to surface. The character was ridiculed for everything from their mediocre standup routines that somehow spawned TV specials, to their “Woke Moment” button.

“I couldn’t understand it because I think Sara Ramirez is a spectacular actor. So I was like, ‘Okay, where’s this coming from? And what do we do with it?’” King said.

It’s this questioning that led to Che’s storyline in Season 2. Because Che was defined in Season 1 by their “cockiness, bravura, sexuality,” they needed to become “vulnerable, knocked for a loop, insecure,” King added.

“Michael Patrick King and I had a meeting before Season 2 even started, and we both agreed that it would be so exciting and interesting to see Che confront a system like Hollywood,” Ramirez told TheWrap. “The most authentic version of themselves is not welcomed.”

Che’s knockdowns build over the course of the season as they struggle to get their sitcom made. In small but cutting ways their insecurities break through, from Tony Danza insisting that Che’s character be Italian Mexican rather than Irish Mexican to “their internalized fat phobia,” Ramirez said. But it all comes to a head when a stranger in a focus group calls Che’s deeply personal version of themselves a “bulls—t version of what the nonbinary experience is.”

Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) and Tony Danza (Photo Credit: Max)
Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez) and Tony Danza (Photo Credit: Max)

“I’ve been in many, many focus groups, and there’s always some wounding that happens in there. 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,” King said. “It just says that you can’t have one experience speak for others.”

Considering the blowback the character has received, it’s fortunate that Ramirez has “really healthy boundaries.” “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 said.

In fact, they “welcome” the thoughts and conversations about Che. “It was really fun to play a character that elicits a strong reaction and sparks really important conversations,” the actor added.

As for King, he emphasized that he “loved” Che and thinks they are exactly the sort of character who belonged on this show.

“‘Sex in the City’ has always been about the individual versus society. Back when it was ‘Sex in the City,’ it was the single girl versus society. ‘You should be in a couple,’” King said. “That’s what made that series. So we’re always looking for individuals, and I thought Che was a really strong individual.”

New episodes of “And Just Like That” are released Thursdays on Max.