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.

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Season 1, Episode 10: The Baby Shower

“So all I have to do to meet the ideal man is give birth to him” – Miranda

babyshowerTHIS episode breaks from the established theme-with-four-strands template to focus entirely on a single storyline and a big issue – the gulf between childless single women and married mothers.

Lainey is a reformed wild child who’s surprised everyone by swapping flashing at Manhattan parties for domesticity in Connecticut. An invite to her baby shower serves as an unwelcome reminder of another lost friendship, and neatly coincides with a pregnancy scare for Carrie.

Samantha delivers the killer line of the episode – “Frankly, I think it’s sad the way she’s using her child to validate her existence” – but it’s swiftly tempered by a throwaway comment from Carrie and a voiceover describing Lainey and Samantha as arch rivals: “both wild, both sexy, both incredibly insecure”. Perhaps if the show had stuck with this conception of Samantha it would have avoided the accusation, endlessly repeated, that she was in fact a gay man in disguise. Viewers can process an insecure slutty woman – a confident one is a bridge too far.

Charlotte, naturally, is enthusiastic about celebrating the impending arrival, and the only one to actually buy a present – a fairly significant detail given Carrie’s later gripe about spending hundreds of dollars on such events with little hope of a return on her investment. But even Charlotte’s bubble is eventually burst when she discovers Lainey has committed an unforgivable act of betrayal: stealing her unique baby name. (Her eventual choices are much more sophisticated, so perhaps this was a blessing in disguise).

There’s a return to the vox pops that characterised early episodes, but this time they have a fantastical feel, with shower attendees confessing all to camera about the messy truth behind their perfect facades.

Carrie’s column: She’s so preoccupied with worries about whether she might be pregnant – and what kind of mother she might make – that she doesn’t actually get around to writing one.

Fashion: The maternity fashions in this episode are distinctly frumpy, without a “yummy mummy” look in sight. At first I assumed this was less a reflection of actual fashions at the time and more a way of providing a visual contrast between the mothers and main characters, but then I remembered the stir that was caused when pop star Melanie Blatt bared her bump on stage in 1998. The idea of pregnant women wearing figure-hugging gowns on the red carpet would have been completely baffling to viewers 15 years ago, and Lainey’s bump is discretely covered even when she’s gatecrashing a party in an attempt to turn back the clock.

Puns: No room for puns in this somewhat serious episode. I checked to see if it was the first written by a woman – it wasn’t, but it’s interesting to note the first seven were all by men.