Season 3, episode 14: Sex and another city

“I feel like one of those freakin hairless dogs!” – Carrie, after her first Brazilian

SEX LA main.jpgOoh, Vince Vaughn! Except it’s not really Vince Vaughn. Or rather, it is Vince Vaughn, but he’s playing a character – unlike Matthew McConaughey, who in the last episode was playing himself. Confused? You might be.

The pals are somehow still in LA, milking Carrie’s freebie for all it’s worth, and Charlotte gets so scunnered with Trey and his refusal to discuss their sexless marriage that she hops on a plane to join them.

A week in the sunshine and a reunion with an old friend threaten to transform Miranda from angry and cynical to mellow and spiritual – until, that is, she realises that said friend has an eating disorder and an anger problem. It turns out nothing in LA is quite how it seems on the surface, just like Charlotte’s picture-perfect marriage back home.

Samantha decides to fake it with a knock-off Fendi bag, but ends up being escorted off the grounds of the Playboy Mansion after a run-in with a bunny. The groups’s attendance at a party at said mansion isn’t really explained – we should probably assume Miranda and Charlotte made their usual sensible/prudish objections before being roped in – but it’s worth it for Miranda’s deadpan reaction when they stumble into a grotto pool party: “Look at that – tit soup.”

Meanwhile, the character played by Vince Vaughn dupes Carrie into thinking he’s a big shot when he’s actually just a house-sitter – a house-sitter for Carrie Fisher, no less! The real Carrie Fisher, that is! Our own Carrie is simultaneously mortified and  star-struck when Princess Leia storms in on her in flagrante, and her attempt at writer-to-writer bonding is shut down in brutal fashion. “I have a child … I really can’t do this,” she mutters.

Fashion: Carrie’s pool party outfit is so spot on that I’m almost – almost – willing to forgive the ridiculously-sleeved blouse she wears on her fruitless Fake Fendi quest. As usual, Miranda opts for a needlessly frumpy ensemble, a mere episode after expressing a desire to ramp up her sex appeal. In other scenes Carrie rocks some amazing accessories – including a gold lightning-bolt necklace (teamed with a gold boob tube and white tuxedo jacket and shorts) and an outstanding pink metallic bum bag.

Carrie’s column: When it comes to bags, men and cities, is it really what’s outside that counts?

Puns: It’s been a while.

Season 3, episode 13: Escape from New York

“My husband can’t be impotent – he’s gorgeous!” – Charlotte

sex-ny-mmFair play to Carrie, for once – she’s been dumped by Aidan but generously allows Charlotte’s sex-free honeymoon to be top of the pair’s brunch agenda after they exchange their latest bad news. “So, shall we get more coffee, or shall we get two guns and kills ourselves?” she quips first.

There’s not much time to commiserate, however, as Carrie and the other two are off to LA for a holiday she’s manged to blag because someone wants to make a movie based on her columns. Which is ironic, given that the second Sex and the City movie revolves around a blagged holiday.

If you’d asked me what I remembered happening in Carrie’s meeting with Matthew McConaughey I’d have said he propositioned her and she walked out, but I remembered it wrong. Yes, he does tell her he wants to sleep with her, but when he says it he at least appears to be channeling Mr Big – the role he fancies in Sex and the City: The Movie. Carrie doesn’t ditch the follow-up meeting because he’s sleazy, but because his idea of script development involves barking “What the fuck is Carrie’s problem?” as if unaware that she – Carrie – is a real person and not a character.

Little else of note happens in the episode. Miranda has a liberating moment on a bucking bronco, Samantha sleeps with a dildo-model-slash-poet, and Charlotte establishes (albeit not very scientifically) that Trey is capable of getting it up (hooray!), just not with her (ouch).

Two things really date this episode – the naff silky nighties and the fact that Charlotte’s wedding photos are physical prints.

Carrie’s column: Can you ever really escape your past?

Fashion: Samantha’s blue LA outfit is very Samantha and very silly. Carrie’s red get-up effectively communicates the message “I need to be single for a while”. But Samantha redeems herself by wearing a nice blouse to her dildo-distribution brunch.

Puns: None as such, but a lot of sniggering about dildos.

 

Season 3, episode 12: Don’t ask, don’t tell

“Marriage doesn’t guarantee a happy ending – just an ending” – Samantha

sex wedding.jpgJeez, these women are right cows when it comes to weddings. The trio have all agreed to be Charlotte’s bridesmaids but each one seems to view this as an enormous favour – and each proceeds to give her a different pre-wedding headache.

First there’s Samantha, bitching and moaning about her dress until Charlotte points out she was only included so she didn’t feel left out. She of course proceeds to sleep with the best man, because god forbid she spends even one night in bed with a good book in the interest of reducing the risk of awkwardness at the reception.

Then there’s Miranda, who resorts to speed-dating (or multi-dating, as the show calls it) in order to find a date for the big day. Um… what? In what culture is it cool to bring a complete stranger to a close friend’s wedding? No-one there is going to notice or care that you don’t have a date, because this isn’t about you.

Then of course there’s Carrie, one-upping the rest by choosing the morning of the wedding to tell Aidan she repeatedly cheated on him with Big. She seems to think she deserves some such of prize for honesty, rather than to be instantly dumped.

“Maybe the whole idea is overrated”, she’d pondered earlier on. “Maybe coming clean is the ultimate selfish act, a way to absolve yourself.” Yes, or a way to make your friend’s wedding day all about yourself and spoil the photos with your puffy eyes.

Of course, the day is already marred by Charlotte’s startling discovery that Trey has bedroom performance issues.Not to worry, says Trey: “Sex is such a small part of it for us … that’s what I love about you.” Oh dear. Samantha was right; you really shouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. But Carrie has the right approach when Charlotte drops this bombshell moments before the big “I Do”. She decides honesty isn’t the best policy, and provides a reassuring explanation involving a poorly-timed wank.

There’s been barely a nod to Trey’s Scottish roots up until now, yet suddenly he’s wearing a kilt and Charlotte’s walking down the aisle to Scotland the Brave. I’m not convinced our Char would have gone along with this, given how much thought she’s been giving to her wedding day for the past three decades or so (I believe this episode provides the first confirmation of their ages – the core trio are all 34 at this point). Her dad’s there, but reduced to the role of an extra, in keeping with the show’s erasure of familial ties and focus on opt-in friendships.

There’s another poignant ending as a heartbroken Aidan slopes off and Carrie joins the others as her voiceover concludes: “It’s hard to find people who will love you no matter what. I was lucky enough to find three of them”. Sniff!

Carrie’s column: In a relationship, is honesty really the best policy?

Fashion: The champagne bridesmaids dresses aren’t brilliant, but they’re a lot nicer than the pantomime efforts Carrie chooses for her disastrous non-wedding a few years later.

Puns: “Charlotte had something old, something new, something borrowed, and someone Samantha blew.”

Season 3, episode 11: Running with scissors

“Could I feel any more like a hooker?” – Carrie

Sex sam.jpgGood grief. A few episodes ago we learned that Miranda had never been tested for chlamydia in her entire life. This time we learn that Samantha – Sa-fucking-mantha! – has never had an HIV test. Ever. What planet are these women living on? And why is she telling the doctor she only swallows when surprised? She’s only just finished gargling with funky spunk!

The revelation gets Carrie to thinking about safe sex, but in terms of emotional rather than physical high stakes. She ponders how useful it would be to be given a pamphlet warning about this type of self-protection. She’s musing, of course, rather than formulating public policy ideas, but this is the direction in which sex education has been evolving for the past few decades.

Of course, there probably aren’t any schools materials pointing out the heartbreak risk of cheating on your nice boyfriend with your dickish married ex. Surely no-one’s so daft they need that pointed out? The “affair” has now been going on for three weeks, and with Samantha refusing to judge her for it Carrie turns to Miranda, who is rightly appalled.

“I’m just so confused,” says Carrie. “I mean, does he only want me now because he can’t have me?”
“Yes,” replies Miranda bluntly, to Carrie’s dismay.

In Carrie’s defence, the affair does seem super sexy: the pair are creeping around in down-market hotels with no air conditioning, bickering about the difficulties of fitting illicit shags into their busy schedules. In one particularly special moment, Big utters the phrase “let’s get those panties off.” That’s it. Game over. Mr Big? Mr Bleurgh.

Carrie’s then horrible to Aidan, cruelly telling him she hates his kissing noise before switching to needy and annoying mere seconds later. Aidan really has a lot of credit in the bank here. Frankly I think he could do better, girlfriend-wise.

Soon afterwards the cat’s out of the bag when Charlotte bumps into the panties-off pair exiting a hotel together. Carrie tries to convince her she feels bad for Natasha, but it’s an obvious lie and Charlotte doesn’t let her away with it. Good.

After a session in the marital bed – and fresh from being mistaken for a prostitute – Carrie says she can’t got on like this. Big responds by threatening to tell Natasha it’s over then issues an ultimatum to Carrie – in or out. Carrie seeks clarification – what’s he really offering? A proper, public relationship, “out in the daylight”? “Carrie, in or out,” he repeats, like a slippery Brexiteer MP. Things then take a disastrous turn (that I’d totally forgotten about) when Natasha comes home early to find a half-naked Carrie in the flat, gives chase and falls on her face.

I’m really not sure why Carrie then declares to Big that “we’re so over, we need a new word for over”. Because he was willing to leave his wife for her? Was she, in fact, was the one who only wanted someone she couldn’t have?

Elsewhere, Charlotte’s hijacking brunch with her quest for the perfect wedding dress. “Kill me, please,” is Miranda’s typically on-message response. “Just take a sharp object and drag it across my throat.” Fortunately, everyone is spared the effort of helping Charlotte plan her outfit when Samantha gives her the number of bitchy stylist Anthony. This seems a little cold. They’re bridesmaids, right? Isn’t this stuff part of the gig?

Sex char dress.jpgCarrie’s column: When you crawl in bed with someone, is sex ever safe?

Fashion: Charlotte wears a nice grey halterneck dress for her trip to Vera Wang with Anthony. It reminds me of the lovely blue number with lapels she sported when Trey took her to Tiffany’s.

I also love the navy shirt dress  and red scarf combo Miranda wears to make an irrational complaint of sexual harassment against a man dressed as a sandwich.

Puns: Nope.

Season 3, episode 10: All or nothing

“You have no right to do this.
You can’t just come back into my life and fuck it all up” – Carrie, to Big

sex all or nothing.jpg“Next time we’re going to a hotel,” says Big, lying in Carrie’s bed. “I can smell the guy on your sheets: woodchips and Paco Rabanne.”
“He doesn’t wear cologne.”
“Maybe he should.”

Carrie should be defensive at that. If she loved Aidan she’d surely be sick with guilt at the mention of him, even if the context wasn’t a suggestion that he stinks. Instead, her voiceover informs us: “It all felt so easy and so good”.

Technically, there had been no exchange of L-words at this point, a fact Samantha was keen to emphasise. “Don’t beat yourself up,” she tells Carrie, refusing to judge (“not my style” she purrs with an adorable wink). “Aidan hasn’t said ‘I love you’ yet – until he does, you’re a free agent.” Inevitably, the three little words follow a few days later … shortly after she’s fallen into bed with Big for a second time. “Apparently I had become lovable,” she reflects. “I felt awful. And so good.”

Later there’s a heart-stopping moment after she sneaks out to see Big, promptly loses Aidan’s dog then has a meltdown back at the apartment. “I don’t want be paranoid here, but I can smell something,” he says. “Are you cheating?” … but he’s referring to her smoking habit, not her infidelity. “Are you gonna quit?” he asks, and her reply – “I really want to” – feels like an answer to a different question. It’s a great performance by SJP.

At Samantha’s housewarming party I had to laugh at an incredulous Miranda’s “you can get DVDs delivered?” Sometimes I forget that our characters don’t even have mobile phones, let alone Netflix and chill. Still, a landline’s all Miranda needs for old-school phone sex with a colleague from the Chicago office. Unfortunately, the hi-tech sophistication of Call Waiting allows him to talk dirty to multiple women at once.

The theme of the episode is having it all, although not the conventional combination of job, husband and kids – more like friends, boyfriend, fabulous apartment and free-flowing cocktails. This is the one where Samantha gets the flu and loses her mind because not one man in her little black book is willing to come and help her out with her curtain pole (not a euphemism – an actual curtain pole). In her delirious state she bemoans the fact that she hasn’t got hitched – interestingly, earlier in the episode she makes a rare reference to her childhood, breezily remarking “at my age, my mother was saddled with three kids and a drunk husband”.

Charlotte is dismayed when Trey casually hands her a prenuptial agreement, and wounded to discover she’s only worth half a million dollars (and that’s assuming she sticks with him for 30 years). Contracts and bonuses threaten to ruin the romance … until she successfully negotiates with Bunny, declaring: “I’m worth a million”. Of course, we all know she won’t be cashing in three decades down the line … and the less said about the baby bonuses (for sons only, please note) the better.

Carrie’s poignant thought as Trey whisks his fiancee away from her pals caught me by surprise: “It was then that each of us realised that we didn’t have it all,” she says. “Because we no longer had Charlotte.” Sob!

Carrie’s column: Can we have it all?

sex-bum-trousersFashion: A few episodes ago Charlotte was so insecure about her thighs she wouldn’t sit in a sauna. Now she’s wearing the world’s least flattering lime green mom trousers to Samantha’s housewarming. They’re so awful I had to take a photo of my TV. Her blue dress, hair and make-up at the engagement party are lovely though. Carrie wears a fabulous kelly green bodysuit while sorting out her shoe collection, then the most ludicrous dungaree shorts for Aidan’s homecoming.

Puns: Nada.

Series 3, episode 9: Easy come, easy go

“We always used to share a cigarette together” – Big
“We did a lot of things that were bad for me together” – Carrie

sex-easy-comeThe problem with Big is that he just isn’t a nice guy. He’s an arsehole, in fact, and not even a very charming one. Frankly I reckon he and Carrie deserve each other … just when I’m feeling sorry for her, whoops, she’s cheating on Aidan.

Things are going swimmingly between the pair, and they’re having coupled-up fun at a design show, when along come a miserable-looking Big and Natasha in search of new furniture. Carrie’s response, naturally, is to crouch down on the floor. Once she’s upright things are no less awkward, and just when it seems like she has no choice but to introduce Big to her beau – using his actual name – there’s an accident involving hot coffee.

Drinks of a different kind are involved soon after, as a drunk and sloppy Big returns to bemoan his “bullshit beige” married life. Addressing Carrie through a trumpet made from a rolled-up auction catalogue, he announces in a sing-song tone: “It’s not working. I’m getting out. If you know anyone who’s interested…” Carrie scathingly declares that no-one is interested in that information, and naturally we instantly cut to her promptly announcing the news to her very interested friends.

“Why’s he telling you?” asked Miranda, aghast.
“I dunno,” replies Carrie. “To save postage on his newsletter?”

She assures everyone that she is not going to doing anything, for two reasons:
“first, I have a great boyfriend, and second, I’m not insane”. So far, so sensible. But the episode is all about the conflict between going with your heart rather than your head.

Miranda and Steve might have split up but he’s still hanging around, because he has “no money, no savings, nothing”. It’s only been three weeks but obviously he can’t be expected to go all that time without a shag, so he has no choice but to give out Miranda’s landline to all and sundry. Dick. “A 34-year-old guy with no money and no place to live – because he’s single, he’s a catch. But a 34-year-old woman with a job and a great home – because she’s single, is considered tragic”. Ugh.

Here’s Bunny! I remember Trey’s mother being infuriatingly interfering – what I didn’t recall was that Charlotte quickly picked up on her sure-fire way of getting Trey to do anything she wanted … and put it into action herself. Unfortunately, a combination of great expectations and this intoxicating power leads her to blurt out her desire to get married … and Trey’s response is a crushingly unromantic “alrighty”. Fortunately, a well-timed trip to Tiffany’s puts a smile back on her face.

Samantha’s storyline, about a guy with “funky-tasting” spunk, is most notable for the glorious first 15 seconds of this clip:

But back to Carrie and Big. When he calls and leave a message asking her to call him back urgently, it seems to me the most likely explanation is that he’s horrified to have blabbed about his marital woes to his big-mouthed sex columnist ex. “He wants to get back together, right?” says Carrie. “What happened to the not-insane part of you?” replies Miranda. Of course Carrie’s gone all giddy-knickers with expectation by the time she returns his call, and you’d think it’d be something of a passion-killer when he says that he’s thought about getting out of his marriage, “but it’s gonna cost me a lot, so maybe you should forget about what I said”.

Instead of getting a grip of herself and reminding herself that Aidan is not only lovely, thoughtful and kind, but up for spending a whole day sanding her floors for free, she complains about the noise he makes while doing said DIY, complains about his dog (who apparently “deletes things” while she’s trying to write), complains about the cost of going to a hotel, and strops out. Disastrously, Big shows up and won’t take no for an answer, telling her he loves her and forcing himself on her in a lift. By the end of the episode he’s blowing cigarette smoke in her face (gross) and she’s musing “Just like that, I lost my head”.

Carrie’s column: When it comes to relationships, is it smarter to follow your heart or your head?

Fashion: It seems to glaringly apparent now that Natasha wore white in every single scene, but I don’t remember this from first time round, when I had to wait a week between episodes. No wonder she’s a fan of beige furniture too. What a bore.

Puns: Nope.

Season 3, episode 8: The Big time

I miss you. I can’t stop fucking stop thinking about you. There you have it” Big, to Carrie’s answering machine

sex-bigI detect a whiff of hypocrisy when it comes to Carrie’s opinion of Charlotte and Trey’s relationship. Carrie met Aidan’s parents after a mere three weeks of dating, yet scoffs at Charlotte’s suggestion that Trey might be The One given they’ve only known each other for two. However, she has to concede Charlotte’s never seemed happier.

Miranda is keen to correct Charlotte’s belief that fate brought the pair together, but I’m not sure her men-are-like-cabs theory really contradicts it. I agree with her that when a man makes a conscious decision to find a wife it’s pretty much a matter of the woman being in the right place at the right time, but that doesn’t exclude the possibility of fate giving a helping hand, surely?

I’m also not sure why Samantha’s so offended when her new neighbour Len makes a move. Is he really so much older than her usual suitors? Didn’t she date a geriatric a while back? Anyway, the age-related paranoia that follows is a false alarm, so she won’t be needing vaginal lubrication suppositories any time soon. Thank goodness.

Steve sees a baby, so decides he wants a baby. Miranda tells him he’s being an idiot, but later reflects that “maybe I’m just sabotaging the relationship so I don’t have to have a baby with him and actually be happy. Maybe the problem is me.” The problem is not you, Miranda. Steve sees a puppy, so decides he wants a puppy. Miranda says fine because she doesn’t want to be “Mean Mommy”. It doesn’t go well, and Miranda tells Steve she’s tried her best but he’s dumped. Oh, but here comes Carrie’s voiceover to say: “It was then that Miranda realised something. All this time she’d thought the problem was her. It wasn’t. It was them.” Nope, again. The problem is Steve. Awful, childish, whiny, sometimes downright cruel Steve. In more important news, well done to Miranda on making partner at her firm!

Oh, and Big is sniffing around Carrie like a dog trying to track down his favourite lamppost. He’s now telling her exactly what she wanted to hear … a year ago.

Carrie’s column: Is timing everything?

Fashion: Charlotte doesn’t commit notable fashion faux-pas all that often, but teaming a yellow, pink and green dress with a lilac pashmina is madness.

Puns: Does this count?
Charlotte: Ugh! Vagina weights!
Samantha: Honey, my vagina waits for no man.