Season 3, episode 2: Politically erect

“The country runs better with a good-looking man in the White House. Look what happened with Nixon – no-one wanted to fuck him, so he fucked everyone” – Samantha

satc politicallyMiranda has a great retort to her friends’ shallow dissection of presidents past. “I’m glad you three weren’t around during the original 13 colonies,” she says. “I don’t think our founding fathers were very fuckable.”

My first thought on hearing Samantha’s theory again, days after the Democratic party made Clinton’s candidacy official, was that it assumes a man of some description will always be in charge. My second thought was that if unregistered Americans don’t sort themselves out – I’m looking at you here, Carrie Bradshaw – then the country’s fucked.

This episode really misses a trick:  John Slattery’s Bill Kelley might be a bona fide politician but Samantha’s an expert spin doctor, and it would have been nice to see her flexing those muscles to powerful effect. Instead she makes a mountain out of a mole hill after accepting a date from a man she didn’t realise was unusually short.

As mentioned in my previous post, I remembered why Carrie and Bill didn’t work out. What I didn’t remember was the way in which he slyly dumped her without missing a beat as soon as she ruled out bedroom-based watersports. Not cool – but it was even less cool of Carrie to respond by outing him in the paper. These guys she dates should be demanding non-disclosure agreements before they get naked with the famous Carrie Bradshaw. Also: when people comment that her columns are “funny”, does that mean they contain terrible puns?

Meanwhile, Steve’s talking about his feelings again and I can’t really fault him this time. He wants to be exclusive with Miranda and she’s not sure … until he says he loves her. It doesn’t really ring true for me that this would sway her, given his history of emotional manipulation and her obvious niggling feeling that she probably could do better. Perhaps years from now, around about halfway through the events of Sex and the City: The Movie, Miranda might reflect that yes, she definitely could have done better.

Charlotte’s plotline is too dull to mention apart from the fact that Elizabeth Banks puts in a fresh-faced appearance.

Carrie’s column: Can there be sex without politics?

Fashion: Fashion and politics, says Carrie, are both about recycling shop-worn ideas and making them seem fresh and inspiring.She rises to the occasion with her political-girlfriend wardrobe, and even Miranda manages to score a fashion win with a casual ensemble.

Puns: I think Bill was providing enough cheesy dialogue for both of them. Puns would have tipped everyone over the edge.

Season 3, episode 1: Where there’s smoke…

“I’ve been dating since I was 15, I’m exhausted! Where is he?” – Charlotte

where-theres-smoke-1024.jpgIt’s nice that the new season starts on a optimistic note for Carrie, as she meets a charming politician (Mad Men’s Roger Sterling) and ends this first episode riding off into the moonlight with him. But I remember only too well what road that relationship goes down, so the moment feels somewhat … soiled.

They meet in the most unlikely of settings – the FDNY annual calendar competition on Staten Island – due to their respective statuses as minor celebrities. These days I’d give John Slattery at least a 7 out of 10, but I’m pretty sure as a twentysomething I thought him far too old for Carrie. Her reluctance to be wooed by him isn’t really due to his grey hair, or his divorced status, or his habit of giving thumbs up. She says he’s too full of himself, but that’s never been a turn-off in the past…

WP_20160725_02_18_12_Pro.jpg“You’re terrified of getting hurt again,” observes Miranda, and Carrie’s voiceover notes this is something that “independent women in their thirties are never supposed to think, let alone say out loud”. Another such snippet pops out of Charlotte’s mouth during an innocent chat about the appeal of firemen. Women just want to be rescued, don’t they? Miranda’s face is a picture. Carrie has a half-hearted response about being your own white knight, but no-one seems convinced.

So determined is Miranda to prove her independent status that when Carrie bails on chumming her home from laser eye surgery (due to a looming deadline, apparently, as if the Sex & The City column is in any sense topical and couldn’t have simply been bashed out the night before), she declines to arrange a substitute. But Carrie gives Steve the heads-up and of course he steps in. He manages not to do anything objectionable for the entire episode. Well done Steve.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s fireman fantasy doesn’t quite go as planned, and Charlotte thinks she’s found her white knight when a banker rescues her from some cheesy chat-up lines … but, as ever, things nosedive very quickly. Poor Charlotte.

Carrie’s column: Do women just wanna be rescued?

Fashion: Everyone looks terrible on Staten Island, with their mumsy separates and tacky little handbags, but Carrie rocks a fur coat and eccentric boots combo as she’s pursued by the politician.

Puns: None as such, but there is this dialogue:
Samantha, regarding a fireman from lower Manhattan: “I’d like to show him my lower Manhattan”
Charlotte: “Eugh”

 

Season 2, Episode 18: Ex and the City

“If you love someone, and you break up, where does the love go? – Carrie

ex and the cityOh great – Steve’s back, and he’s back to his old tricks. Namely, standing in Miranda’s doorway whining about his hurt feelings with no regard for hers. “I miss you” she tells him. “Whenever something funny happens I always want to tell you about it.” Och, pet.

In the wake of Carrie’s crushing encounter with a no-longer-in-Paris Mr Big, she’s been getting to thinking about the difficulty of staying friends with an ex. She reckons Miranda’s attitude to break-ups – “We didn’t work out, you need to not exist” – is childish, and so she bites the bullet and calls him.

Her friendly lunch date with Big is all going swimmingly until he drops a bombshell – he and Natasha are engaged. At which point Carrie loses the plot, creates a huge scene and almost breaks an ankle running out of the restaurant. Not childish at all, see?

Meanwhile, Miranda and Steve have gone out for dinner and he’s finally let her pay instead of being a complete crybaby about everything. He then starts kissing her neck in creepy fashion, and before you know it Miranda’s hair’s at all sort of angles and he’s asking “We had good reasons for breaking up, right?” The correct answer to this question is of course “YES – YOU’RE A TERRIBLE WHINY SELF-CENTRED MAN-CHILD”, but Miranda seems to have amnesia.

There’s also a really weird storyline about Charlotte and a horse, and Samantha dates a man who’s hung like one.

The season ends is unsatisfying fashion. Carrie confronts Big after his engagement party, demanding to know why he didn’t want to marry her. “It just got so hard,” he says. “And she’s…” simple? Carrie sashays away, encounters a horse (another one, the episode is horse-heavy) and decides that she and the horse are kindred spirits who can’t be tamed. Um, what? Yeah, because Big really tried to tame Carrie by being hot and cold with her for two years then dumping her, leaving the country, and swiftly getting engaged to someone else. That makes sense. Totally. End scene.

Carrie’s column: Can you be friends with an ex?

Fashion: Carrie looks suitably stunning in her baby pink lunch date number, Charlotte looks terrible in some jeans, and Mr Big wears open-toed slippers while talking on the phone.

Puns: Carrie to Samantha: “You broke up with James because he was too small, this guy’s too big – who are you, Goldicocks?”

Season 2, Episode 17: Twentysomething Girls vs Thirtysomething Women

“Sharing a [holiday] house with you girlfriends is fine in your twenties, but I feel like in your thirties isn’t it a tiny bit pathetic?” – Miranda

S&TC 20something4.jpgThis is an interesting one for me – because when I first watched Sex and the City I was a twentysomething woman, and now I’m well into the thirtysomething camp.

I certainly hope I didn’t agree back then with Miranda’s scathing verdict about grown-up friends holidaying together. Clearly she’d wised up by the time of the much-mocked Sex and the City 2 (unless she views such vacations as tragic only when they women are single and have no-one else to ask).

The trip is to the Hamptons and, thanks to Charlotte bagging herself a toyboy before they even arrive, our chums end up running with a younger crowd. At the point where the three moaning minnies all start bellyaching about beer foam and vomit, you have to wonder why poor Charlotte bothers with them.

It’s not all grim, though – Carrie bumps into a fangirl who declares reading Sex and the City column “is, like, my religion”. So far so flattering, until said girl declares herself a 25-year-old virgin who’s saving herself for marriage. Presumably she’s reading Carrie’s couldn’t-help-but-wonderings as cautionary tales, but it’s never quite made clear.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s bratty young assistant gets above her station and tries to pinch her clients, but it’s no surprise when youth fails to triumph over experience.

And then … suddenly there’s Mr Big, with a twentysomething woman on his arm. Regular readers will recall I got thoroughly sick of Carrie’s Big fixation in season one, but I must admit his reappearance came as a sucker punch here and I really felt for Carrie, trying to recover her dignity by name-checking her own date but digging herself deeper into a hole of rejection and embarrassment. I must admit Big is looking pretty good too. Must be the Hamptons air. He’s back from Paris, he hasn’t called, and he’s already moved on. Almost as though he just wasn’t that into Carrie all along. Brutal.

Carrie’s column: Twentysomething girls: friend or foe?

Fashion: Carrie tried her best to repel the date she’s lukewarm about by wearing unflattering Bermuda shorts to the beach, but then raised her game with a gravity-defying boob tube and abs to rival any young whippersnapper. I also enjoyed Samantha’s ludicrous frontless jumpsuit.

Puns: None, but I did enjoy the visual gag when Charlotte discovered some unwelcome pubic visitors. I suspect many of today’s Brazilian-waxed twentysomethings wouldn’t even get the reference…

Season 2, Episode 16: Was it Good for You?

“It’s amazing – we can feel totally good about ourselves and then it all goes out the window if a guy doesn’t mirror that right back to us” – Miranda

Samantha gaysA recovering alcoholic boyfriend is a Sex and the City Chekhov’s gun: no prizes for guessing how that storyline’s going to pan out. Carrie’s insouciant attitude towards this aspect of Christian Bale lookalike Patrick is, of course, misplaced, as he swaps one addiction (booze) for another (sex).

And worst of all, Carrie can’t really trust his claims that she’s amazing in bed.

This is a sensitive subject for Charlotte, who’s suffered the indignity of her medic boyfriend falling asleep during one of their “love-making” sessions. Not be defeated, and ever the self-improver, she signs all four women up to a tantric sex class. The other three treat the whole thing like a hen party, so it’s hard to feel sorry for Miranda when she ends up with cum in her hair.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s ego gets a boost when a couple she’s friends with – two gay men – decide to try out sex with a woman and choose her as their ultimate girl-crush. It’s all going well until they remember about her vagina, and gently suggest everyone just put their clothes back on. Ouch.

Despite the disappointment of this encounter, it’s hard to disagree with Samantha’s amusingly dated declaration: “Wake up, it’s 2000! The new millennium won’t be about sexual labels, it’ll be about sexual expression.” From where I’m sitting in 2016 I’d say she wasn’t far wrong – and she was certainly right to point out that for a sex columnist, Carrie really is surprisingly narrow-minded. I mean, it took an invitation from Charlotte to get her to a tantric sex class, and even then she had to be strong-armed.

Carrie’s column: How do you know if you’re good in bed?

Fashion: I loved Carrie’s tropical-minidress-and-gold-belt combo (she references teaming dirt-cheap dresses with absurdly pricey shoes) but was less impressed with her date night top-and-trousers ensemble, though it looked a little less Primark in close-up. Perhaps the blah outfit was intended to signify her pulling back from Mr Super-Keen.

Puns: “Would the women who are laughing compose themselves,” requests the tantric sex lady, demonstrating the same remarkable restraint that presumably characterises her approach to everything. They really aren’t being funny, just childish and obnoxious.

Season 2, Episode 15: Shortcomings

“Is your vagina in the New York City guide books? Because it should be – it’s the hottest spot in town, it’s always open!” – Charlotte, to Samantha

ShortcomingI was shocked by the attitudes expressed in this episode towards divorced men. I’m not quite sure how old the women are at this point, but they seem to believe they’re still in the first flush of youth and shouldn’t have to go anywhere near dating’s damaged goods.

Miranda reckons dating a “used” man is like chewing someone else’s gum, while Samantha asserts that they should all be rounded up and put in a pound – “that way you get their whole history before you take one home”.

Charlotte is the voice of reason, but she’s biased because her brother is going through a divorce. There’s no suggestion a marriage – even a broken one – might be a sign of willingness to commit to a relationship, although Miranda does later twig that such a guy is the “heterosexual holy grail” so many women seek.

In the end, though, their break-up is less about his marital status and more about his bratty kid, into whose face Miranda accidentally slams a door. The episode’s theme is family, and the fact that relationships always bring together more than two people.

Carrie’s latest beau is short story writer Vaughan (Justin Theroux), whose family are a delight. They’re clever, witty, well-connected, and put on a lovely spread for lunch. As Carrie notes: “they got charisma”. Unfortunately Vaughan has a premature ejaculation problem – and a temper problem too – so in the end Carrie has to deliver the difficult break-up speech … to his mother.

Meanwhile, Samantha predictably shags Charlotte’s sad-sack sibling, prompting the venomous outburst at the top of the page followed by a grovelling, muffin-based apology.

Carrie’s column: When you sleep with someone, are you screwing the family?

Fashion: Miranda wears a nice outfit! It’s like a maxi dress but without any midriff coverage. Carrie looks sensational in a simple, body-hugging minidress, and also carries off a somewhat garish gypsy top.

Puns: Despite the bitchy tone of the opening brunch scene, I concede there’s also some decent banter.