Season 1, Episode 2: Models and Mortals

We should just admit that we live in a culture that promotes impossible standards of beauty” – Miranda

episode2FROM a feminist perspective this is an episode of two halves – one of which is terrible.

The topic of men who only date models is pretty NY-centric, but the notion of men pursuing attractive-but-vacuous women less so.

Miranda’s characterisation is pretty one-note for the first two episodes – twice in a row she takes offence at the idea that she’s a guy’s intelligent as opposed to attractive choice of date. But she eventually softens when one of them calls her luminous.

A friend of Carrie’s shows her videotapes of him having sex with models. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says in her narration. But it’s not the horrible violation of the women’s privacy that’s worthy of comment, or even the discovery that her seemingly wholesome friend is a huge creep – it’s that fact the he’s slept with “half the perfume ads in September’s Vogue”. She titters when asking if they consented, and his answer suggests not. PROBLEMATIC.

The lack of regard for the models as people is reflected as much in the way the women discuss them as the way the men treat them. While there’s some right-on sounding talk about beauty standards, there’s no real critique of the media or fashion industry. Instead, the models themselves are the targets of abuse.

Mr Big pops up a couple of times in this episode, first dating a model (one of two black characters in this episode – interesting given the show’s poor reputation for diversity) and then seeking out Carrie to assure her that for him, sense of humour is more important than model looks. Spoiler alert: he’s lying.

Carrie’s column: “If models could cause otherwise rational individuals to crumble in their presence, exactly how powerful was beauty?”

Fashion: Carrie has a hilariously huge mobile phone at this point in the show. And an underwear model has a hairy chest, suggesting some standards of beauty were actually a good bit more naturally achievable in 1998 than they are today. Also retro: sweet potato puffs with smoked salmon and sour cream are served at a fashionable party.

Puns: Still no puns. Was this pitched as comedy drama or what?