“Telling a friend to leave her husband is something you just don’t do” – Miranda
IT’S hard to know where to start with this episode, in which the hook is the abusive relationship of Carrie’s friend Susan-Sharon, and the moral is: don’t interfere.
There’s not a lot of ambiguity to the way Richard behaves. Carrie calls him “a very mean man”, we hear that since their marriage she only sees her friend once or twice a year, and he screams the house down when his wife and Carrie wake him up after their night out (see puns, below).
Carrie’s reaction? Initially she asks “Could Susan-Sharon’s marriage be that bad? Or was their fighting just a form of foreplay?” Um, no, it seems pretty obvious that it’s not. This is confirmed moments later when Susan-Sharon phones, whispering, to apologise, saying: “I don’t know what to do.”
Carrie lights up a cigarette and says that maybe there were “special circumstances” that justified Richard’s behaviour that evening. Which is pretty much the worst thing to say to a woman in an abusive relationship. When pushed about what she would do in that situation, Carrie says she would leave.
This is an extremely clumsy way to build up to Miranda’s line above, and the women’s brunch-time chat about secrets and lies in relationships. The double-bind described – if she leaves it’ll be your fault, if she doesn’t she’ll never speak to you again – is hardly applicable here, especially since the pair are barely in contact anyway. It’s a really disappointing treatment of an important subject.
I can’t help but feel it’s significant that Carrie envies Susan-Sharon’s plush, “grown-up” apartment – presumably funded in part by whatever work Richard requires his precious beauty sleep to do well – and in a horribly gauche move reminiscent of her moaning to a date about her financial situation she asks if she could perhaps return her expensive birthday gift because she “could really use the cash”. Is Carrie really just looking for a cash cow of her own? Is that the secret to Mr Big’s appeal?
Later in the episode Carrie muses to herself that Richard is probably right when he tells Susan-Sharon (in classic abusive husband style) that she’ll never find another man and will be single forever. The overall suggestion is that she should put up and shut up, lest she lose her plush apartment and face the dismal prospect of spinsterhood. Of course, our heroines don’t feel they should have to settle for any old man – they just feel like their emotionally fragile, pill-popping married friends should.
Meanwhile, Charlotte gets a puppy who shits all over her expensive sheets, Samantha finally blurts out the truth about her boyfriend’s shortcomings and Miranda talks dirty.
Plus Carrie is forced by politeness to invite Mr Big out for her birthday after he sends her roses, and he not only shows up but acts like a complete clown. I should point out that I’m currently obsessed with The Good Wife (hence these posts being a little less regular than they should be) and I can say with some certainly that Chris Noth is not an unattractive man. Mr Big is just an unattractive character.
Carrie’s column: Are there still certain things in a relationship one should never say? (even this sentence construction is awkward)
Fashion: Miranda is in colour-clash mode again, but avoids the full-blown crimes against fashion of recent episodes. There’s generally a lot of chunky knitwear on show. Carrie wears a fabulous glittery dressing gown on her birthday morning, and a nice floaty pink sequinned number for her Arabian Nights-themed party.
Puns: “It’s a cash-miracle!” explains Carrie upon opening her present of a cashmere scarf. Just before asking if she can return it to the shop where it wasn’t even actually purchased from. Stay classy.