Series 3, episode 7: Drama queens

“We whine when we don’t have a boyfriend and we whine when we do” – Miranda

sex drama queens.jpgPOOR Charlotte hasn’t had much luck with boyfriends up til now. Yes, she’s a bit prissy and conservative, but she’s had more than her fair share of dating catastrophes. Somehow she’s managed to retain her glass-half-full outlook, but you get the feeling she could crack at any moment. Thankfully, now that Miranda’s shacked up with Steve and Carrie’s loved up with Aidan, the writers have finally decided to give her a break.

Of course, they have subject her to a little more indignity first. After consulting a how-to guide, she decides the best way to find herself a man is through the husbands of friends. It seems a sensible strategy and sure enough, a suitor is promptly identified over dinner with Amy and Dennis. Hopes are raised, then dashed, and just when it looks like Charlotte’s blown her chance with a bombardment of voicemails, Dennis himself appears and declares that his marriage is on the rocks and he’s in love with her himself.

So far, so soul-crushing, and Charlotte can’t get away fast enough. The next thing she knows she’s face-down in the road and a taxi driver’s performing an emergency stop. And who should emerge from the back of the cab … but Trey McDougall! Hurrah! (Or at least hurrah for now.)

Meanwhile, Carrie’s freaking out because things with Aidan are going too smoothly. After all the drama with Mr Big, it’s unnerving. To be fair, he’s keen for her to meet his parents after just three weeks of dating, which is pretty full-on, but in every other respect he’s as chilled as they come. He’s emotionally and physically available, and always ready with perfect lines like “I have a life – I’m just making room in it for you.”

In other words, he’s the polar opposite of Big, who was never willing to make room in his life for Carrie and kept his mother as far away from her as possible. So of course it’s only a matter of time before Carrie encounters him, and is sent into a stomach-lurching tailspin. It’s telling that their eyes meet through opera glasses halfway through the first act of Aida, hinting at a common bond of some kind (restlessness? Nosiness? Disrespect for the arts?) All the signs point to her freaking out and sabotaging a good thing. But no – a couple of days of no contact are enough to make her appreciate what she’s got, take the plunge and turn up to meet Mr and Mrs Shaw over breakfast.

Miranda hasn’t met Steve’s mother yet, but their relationship is far past the butterflies stage. In fact, she proudly tells the gang that her knew favourite hobby is doing Steve’s laundry. “Your relationship is my greatest fear realised”, observes Samantha, justifiably. And that’s before the discovery of skidmarks.

As I side note, I found it notable that Charlotte phoned Miranda to report that Carrie had ditched her at the opera. Upon learning this Carrie winced, and asked Miranda: “Is she pissed?”, and the answer certainly wasn’t no. Maybe the others complain about her self-absorption behind her back regularly. I hope so!

sex-cleavageCarrie’s column: Do we need drama to make a relationship work?

Fashion: Carrie wore a couple of lovely dresses in this episode – a pale blue/lilac floral number with bold gold accessories for strolling with Miranda, and cute stripey number for meeting Aidan’s parents, but her cleavage-boosting opera dress wasn’t flattering at all.

Puns: None that I noticed, but I worry I’m not paying close enough attention.

Series 3, episode 6: Are we sluts?

“I’ve slept with women quickly and I’m still single. So my new thing is, I just want to try to sleep with somebody I care about” – Aidan

Sex sluts.jpgHold up a minute. Miranda finds out in this episode that she has chlamydia, following a routine trip to the gynaecologist. There’s nothing surprising about that, but here’s the mad bit: it was the first time she’d been tested. What the hell, ladies? Given you’re asking yourself the question in the episode’s title, that seems more than a little bit irresponsible. Even madder is when she tells Steve, and he replies: “I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds like a problem.”

Meanwhile, Charlotte has a jarring experience with a lovely guy who unwittingly shouts out “You fucking bitch, you fucking whore!” when he comes, Samantha’s neighbours are unhappy about her slutty antics (they’d bitten their tongues up until now, but her late-night liaisons are compromising the building’s security), and Carrie’s forgotten what chaste romance feels like.

Aidan is a man who knows what he wants: a non-smoking girlfriend who’s willing to wait. And wait. Carrie’s initially baffled that he lets a week and a half go by without trying to get in her pants, but as time marches on she fears they’re slipping into the friend zone. Then they have a bath together. Then they go to a blues club. Then Aidan presumptuously arranges a dog-sitter. Romance is not dead after all.

Samantha moves to the meat-packing district after the neighbours start sharpening their pitchforks. To be fair, one of them sustained a pretty serious eye injury thanks to her opening the door at 2am, so I can’t really blame them.

sex sluts outfits.pngCarrie’s column: Are we simply romantically challenged, or are we sluts?

Fashion: The patchwork coat was back again. Maybe Aidan complimented her on it or something. Carrie matches her trousers with Miranda’s top when they go for a style-challenged stroll in the park.

Puns: None – the slut-or-not soul-searching was serious business.

Series 3, episode 5: No Ifs, Ands or Butts

“I don’t wanna be a jerk … but I can’t date a smoker” – Aidan

sex aidan.jpg

I had misremembered this episode, in which Samantha dates a black man whose sister doesn’t approve. I knew that was why the relationship had faltered, but I thought she’d offered some sort of Save The Last Dance-style rationale. She doesn’t – she’s just a radge. It’s a shame, because Chivon seemed to have the measure of Samantha, as well as an enjoyably cheesy line in pillow talk.

The episode is all about deal-breakers, and sets up a series of butterfly-inducing first dates only to land a series of gut punches on our poor pals. Charlotte’s new man Brad is a face-licker, Stanford’s paramour collects china dolls, and Carrie’s new love interest won’t date a smoker. He’s Aidan! I’d totally forgotten that Carrie kicked the habit for him – an unrealistic compromise right from the get-go.

Meanwhile, Steve’s deal-breaker is his personality. At one point he wants his mum, sorry Miranda, to go and watch him play basketball but she has to work on a case. “I ask you to do one thing, one time for me, and you can’t – what the fuck is that?” he snaps, before bouncing his basketball off the walls of the expensively decorated apartment he has been effectively squatting in since the emotional manipulation of the last episode. Did I mention I hate Steve?

Anyway, back to Aidan. His and Carrie’s expertly contrived meet-cute results when Stanford spots a “beautiful man downtown selling beautiful furniture” in the New York Times style section. Within seconds Aidan’s rubbing her hand on some ancient leather and bingo, she’s bought a ridiculously expensive chair and snagged a date.

I’ll leave you wish an exchange between Miranda and Carrie, who is giddy at having a crush on a guy for the first time in a while:

Miranda: At this age, I’d have to say I’m crush-proof.
Carrie: What about Steve?
Miranda: Oh god, right, I forgot about my boyfriend – is that normal?

Get out now, Miranda – no good can come of this!

sex aidan coat.jpgCarrie’s column: In relationships, what are the “deal-breakers”?

Fashion: There’s another outing in this episode for Carrie’s coat of many colours, which in itself would probably be a deal-breaker for many. I hope it didn’t cost a month’s rent. I loved the bronze sequin dress Samantha wears when Chivon’s sister delivers her first warning, but by the time they’re brawling she’s in an entirely ridiculous pants-flashing number.

Puns: None per se, but I enjoyed everyone’s horrified responses to Samantha’s attempts at “black talk”.

Series 3, episode 4: Boy, girl, boy, girl…

“I don’t know if I can move forward, but I really don’t want to lose you”
– Miranda, to Steve

sex boy girl.png
I’m not sure if the phrase “bi erasure” had been coined by the time this episode first aired, but it’s probably the most jarring so far in terms of sexual attitudes.

Carrie starts dating a bisexual guy, Sean, and the resulting conversation at brunch is an eye-opener. Despite being an actual sex columnist, Carrie finds it weird that he was “so open about it”, Miranda weighs in that “of course it’s a problem” and Samantha declares that the younger generation are “all about sexual experimentation”, as if to suggest it must be a phase.

Apparently all of the bisexual men and women in college ended up with men, which explains why there are no men left for our heroines. “I’m not even sure bisexuality exists,” adds Carrie for good measure. “I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.” Yikes! It’s not wonder that Charlotte wants everyone to “pick a side, and stay there”, but the others really show their vintage here.

Among the other features that date the episode are: everyone having their mind blown by a “drag kings” exhibition, Carrie saying her and Big were “apparently not Y2K compatible” and, um, a reference to Pokemon. Remember them? Oh wait…

Regular readers with know that I am not a huge fan of Steve. But his actions in this episode take the biscuit. Miranda arrives home from work to find him reclining on her sofa, watching basketball on the TV. It’s important to note that Steve and Miranda do not live together.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” she says.

He replies: “I’ve still got your key from when I fed your cat.”

WHAT? NOT COOL, STEVE. NOT COOL AT ALL.

He then quickly diverts her attention with a promise of Chinese food, then proceeds to police her use of her own television. I think it’s important to bear in mind that Steve lives in a complete shithole. No wonder Miranda freaks out when he tries to encroach further still on her turf.

She does hint at the home invasion when departing from brunch, but Carrie literally tugs at her sleeve and jokingly-not-jokingly whines “What about my problem?” rather than listening.

The episode confusingly conflates gender, gender stereotypes and sexuality – and ultimately opts for a cop-out. Carrie technically doesn’t break it off with Sean because he’s bisexual, but because he, Alanis Morissette and the rest of his multi-sexual young friends are weird and play Spin the Bottle at their house parties.

One more observation: for someone who recently told us she never registered to vote, Carrie sure does make a lot of digs about the then New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Pah.

sex boy girl fashion.jpgCarrie’s column: Has the opposite sex become obsolete?

Fashion: There are some stylish looks on show at Charlotte’s exhibition launch.

I did not approve of Miranda’s floor-length purple satin nightie.

Charlotte made a very handsome guy when drag king photographer worked his magic.

sex boy charl.jpg

Season 3, episode 3: Attack of the 5’10” woman

“She’s shiny hair, style section, Vera Wang …
and I’m the sex column they run next to the ad for penile implants” – Carrie

sex and the city 5ft woman.png
I’ve lost count of the number of times Carrie has hijacked the ladies’ brunch with a trivial concern about her relationship with Big, but this time it really is a big one: he’s married.

Yes, we knew he was engaged, but when Charlotte stumbles upon the announcement in the paper it’s no wonder Carrie has a major wobble. She can’t help but compare herself to the new Natasha, who’s taller, younger, beautiful … that’s about it really. But she’s Mrs Big.

“What I wouldn’t give for a working fireplace,” she bemoans as she screws up the New York Times and tosses it aside. Sarah Jessica Parker plays the scene perfectly. Naturally, Carrie loses any sympathy by the end of the episode, when she’s incredibly rude to everyone at a Women in the Arts luncheon (that doesn’t seem to involve any actual luncheon) and trying to drag Samantha home without so much as a martini.

Meanwhile, Miranda hires a ludicrously meddling cleaning lady whose campaign of domestic terror starts with buying her a rolling pin and culminates in the replacement of her vibrator with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Charlotte’s sub-plot centres on her lack of body confidence and reluctance to get naked in the spa. We’re supposed to cheer for her when some random tells her “I’d kill for your breasts,” rather than finding it super-weird and inappropriate.

The episode closes with Carrie discovering that Natasha doesn’t know the difference between there and their – a minor victory, but it’ll

Carrie’s column: Are there women in New York who are just there to make us feel bad about ourselves?

Fashion: Carrie does admittedly look fabulous in figure-hugging red at the WITA luncheon, but I’m not sure the dress was worth a month’s rent. I continue to find most of the handbags very cheap-looking.

Puns: Carrie said something in voiceover about members that might qualify as a pun. There’s some good banter about women who quit their jobs as soon as they marry. And an amusing wee one-liner from the luncheon registration desk: “Please wear your name tags – last year we had an unfortunate incident with Joyce Carol Oates.”

 

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”