Season 2, Episode 4: They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?

“What’s the big mystery? It’s my clitoris, not the sphinx” – Miranda
“I think you just found the title for your autobiography” – Carrie

new yorkWELL this episode feels racist. It centres around the question of whether it’s better to be alone than in a relationship built on lies, but it includes a couple of wince-inducing scenes that detract from what is otherwise a strong and thought-provoking premise.

First, some context. Carrie agrees to be photographed for the New Yorker’s “Single and Fabulous” issue, but after rolling into the shoot late and allowing some test shots to be taken of her bleary-eyed and puffing on a fag, she’s horrified to find one of them on the cover, with an invidious question mark added to the strapline.

Naturally she’s mortified, and also forced to question whether she really is fabulous, or just pretending to be comfortable with her singleton status. Her rock-bottom moment comes when the south-east Asian man at the news stand recognises her, his eyes darting back and forth from the magazine to her face. “And there it is – pity” she says. “Pity from the man who sells me my Malboro lights. It was the final straw.”

Now, you might be thinking that just sounds like snobbery, and that the man’s ethnicity is irrelevant. But not sooner would you have given the writers a pass than Samantha finds herself stood up on a date and crying on a waiter’s shoulder. In comes Carrie’s voiceover: “Samantha let the Pakistani bus boy kiss her – after all, he’d been so sweet and attentive with the bread”. Well wasn’t he lucky! However, after a few seconds of slumming it with a brown peasant Samantha decides not to take him home, because it’s better to be alone than to fake it. Err, fake what? A lack of distaste at men of the wrong ethnic group or socio-economic status?

Elsewhere in the episode there are some entertaining scenes and on-point observations. Miranda notes that the New Yorker article is just one of many churned out every couple of years “as a cautionary tale to scare young women into marriage”, and they certainly seem even more regular these days. The women want to rubbish it, but it’s clear a nerve has been touched.

Carrie’s column: Is it better to “fake it” than be alone?

Fashion: Carrie wears pink metallic jeans to a salsa club. I cannot mock, because this is exactly the sort of thing I would have done in the early noughts. She then puts on a silly hat, because she’s in hiding while the magazine is still for sale – but if she really wanted to avoid attracting attention on the streets of New York she should probably have worn a more substantial bra. Samantha and Carrie both wear lovely dresses for dates in the latter half of the episode.

Puns: None, but some good banter before things take a detour to racistville.

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