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.

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 1, Episode 12: Oh Come All Ye Faithful

“If I’d known he was Catholic I would never have gone out with him in the first place – they should make them wear a sign” – Miranda

ohcomeIT’S doubtful Miranda’s line would ever make it into a TV show produced in Scotland, but that doesn’t mean she’s wrong to feel uncomfortable about her boyfriend’s post-sex shower compulsion. She tries to ignore it but can’t help eventually pointing out the god-shaped elephant in the room, with disastrous results.

Carrie asserts that New Yorkers don’t enquire about the religious persuasion of their prospective dates, on the grounds that such a question is “too scary”. In the era of internet dating Miranda’s predicament is perhaps rarer, but ultimately the proof of the pudding is still in the fornicating.

Samantha goes to a jazz club alone, wearing a twinset. A suave fellow approaches and utters the line: “I couldn’t help but notice how you move to the music.” He gives her a bite of his donut and she simpers. What the hell? Is this a dream sequence? No, it’s a super-weird conversion to “believing in love”. But don’t worry – he has a 3″ penis, so it’s not going to last.

Charlotte has only a fleeting role in this episode, which is ironic given she goes on to convert to Judaism for a man. Two different psychics tell her she will never marry, which naturally comes as a disappointment given that she’s already bought her bridal lingerie.

Of course, the Big story continues to be Carrie and her insecurities, this time fuelled by his remark, after a Sunday-morning ambush, that his mother doesn’t need to meet “another girlfriend”. Parents don’t tend to have much of a role in Sex and the City – indeed, it only seems to occur to Carrie that Big might have a mother when she spots him accompanying her to church. I’m not sure the lady is ever seen or heard from again, but his hesitation about the introduction is the catalyst for the first of their many break-ups. As the series comes to an end Carrie mutters that she loves him and he just looks bemused, so that’s the end of that (for now).

Carrie’s column: Are relationships the religion of the nineties?

Fashion: Miranda’s church-going hat clashes with her ill-fitting dress and lipstick and Carrie also looks daft in a mismatched ensemble, but I suppose these outfits were intended to make them look a bit daft and out of place. There’s another meaningful mismatch with Carrie’s outfit for a doomed holiday – Parisian chic for a trip to the Caribbean? – but the combo of white off-the-shoulder top, navy high-waisted skirt and red mules looks fantastic on her.

Puns: Praying for some in season two.

Season 1, Episode 11: The Drought

“He’s just perfect perfect perfect perfect
… and I’m the girl who farts” – Carrie

droughtMR Big isn’t perfect at all. He has an entirely average physique, a floppy fringe he doesn’t really carry off, and at least one pair of old-man pyjamas. But he proves himself to have an excellent sense of humour in this episode when he puts a whoopee cushion on Carrie’s chair shortly after what the episode guide coyly describes as her “accidental emission” in bed.

Unfortunately our new favourite prankster somewhat insensitively follows this up by declining sex for three nights in a row, sending Carrie into yet another crisis of confidence that culminates in more pretty specific foreshadowing of things to come – “What if he never calls, and three weeks from now I pick up the New York Times and read that he’s married some perfect little woman?”

Meanwhile, Miranda’s going through a dry spell, Samantha’s driven to distraction by her flirtatious yoga teacher’s tantric celibacy, and Charlotte discovers that her boyfriend of several weeks has zero libido due to being on antidepressants.

Logically, the last of these problems deserves the most sympathy when the women get together – Charlotte having invested a fair bit in the relationship in the mistaken belief her beau was super keen – but its comedic potential is limited and Carrie’s self-absorption wins out, as always. In the end, Charlotte isn’t so very heartbroken. She articulates – and not for the last time – that while she might not be as liberal as the others, she could never be happy in a sexless relationship. In light of this, you might expect her to adopt a try-before-you-buy attitude to marriage…

Several features of this episode locate it very firmly in the late 1990s. One, Miranda’s frequent visits to Blockbuster video (an even more retro viewing experience than her later Tivo obsession); two, Carrie’s anxious wait for a landline answerphone message from Big; and three, sad to say, Samantha’s utterly incredulous assertion, in a diatribe about beauty standards: “A guy once broke up with me because I missed a bikini wax!”

Lastly, Mr Big has something approaching a Mr Darcy moment after making a surprise visit to Carrie’s (admittedly fairly grungy) apartment. After she reels off a list of its imperfections he stops her in his tracks with “I like it – I like it the way it is”.

Carrie’s column: “How often is normal?”

Fashion: Blunders continue to outweigh the triumphs. Carrie’s fail-safe seduction outfit is spoiled by her naff blue eyeshadow, Samantha’s yoga outfits assault the eyeballs, and Miranda wears the ugliest pair of denim dungarees ever manufactured. However, Charlotte wears a lovely bra in her scene of sexual rejection (I’m pretty sure it’s bridal lingerie – more foreshadowing!).

Puns: Carrie spends too much time worrying in this series. She tells Miranda she’s been putting on an act the whole time with Big, and hiding her imperfections. But surely that’s no excuse for keeping a lid on her terrible punning habit when among friends?

Season 1, Episode 9: The Turtle and the Hare

You know who wants to get married?
Men who miss their mommies”
– Miranda

Black wedding

THIS is a very significant episode in the grand scheme of Sex and the City. Hots on the heels of the relevations about Mr Big’s ex wife, Carrie gets a shock when he lets slip he doesn’t want to get married again. That’s right, HE DOESN’T WANT TO GET MARRIED AGAIN. Worth bearing in mind for the future.

I’d forgotten all about Stanford’s granny and her inheritance-upon-marriage rule. There’s not really scope within the episode to discuss the fact that she seems to be sticking to this rule despite knowing Stanford is gay. And therefore, as this is the 1990s, unable to get married. Perhaps the deal is that he gets his when she dies, as is traditional with inheritances. I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’m not certain, but I think Carrie breaks the fourth wall in this scene. I don’t believe that ever happens again.

Anyway, that plot strand is just a flimsy device, as is the one about an actual device – a Rabbit vibrator to which Charlotte becomes addicted. I have some serious hygiene concerns about the Rabbit scenes. Stop touching it in the shop! Stop touching it in Charlotte’s bedroom! Oh god, why are you putting it in your handbag? Gross.

Samantha’s plotline is also pretty weak, dependent as it is on the idea that her ballsy exterior masks low self-esteem and the even less plausible notion that she’d enjoy treating a man as a dress-up dolly.

There’s a nice retro touch when Stanford places a personal ad, but a contemporary-feeling result when the sole respondent arrives, looks him up and down and rejects him (the gay scene is “too competitive”, poor Stanford bemoans).

Carrie’s column: It’s not entirely clear which title she chooses for the column. She types up “Is it always better to marry someone who loves you more than you love them?” after a just-married friend whispers the assertion in her ear, but the final draft seems to be “In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?”

Fashion: The women all wear black to a wedding in the opening scene, which seems like a bit of a rude statement even if they do have to face the indignity of the children’s/weirdos’ table at the reception, but I’m no wedding etiquette expert. Carrie later wears a fairly minging royal blue and mustard tartan coat, but the worst offender in the episode is a cad Samantha meets at a wedding who invites her out for dinner and then – despite sporting attrocious blonde highlights – manages to chat up another woman instead. Stanford’s granny is super-chic in vintage Chanel.

Puns: Maybe I’m not listening closely enough.

Season 1, Episode 4: Valley of the Twenty-something Guys

Front, back, who cares? A hole is a hole” – Samantha

episode4MIRANDA gets all the best lines. Pondering the lack of available men in their thirties, she quips that “Guilliani had them removed along with the homeless”. She and Carrie are dating younger men, and the latter is trying to figure out how to spin this in a column. Having picked Miranda’s brain she treacherously dashes off to meet her toy boy, fobbing off her pal with a lie about lunch with her editor.

Fortunately there’s some girlfriend solidarity on display soon afterwards, when the gang convene in a taxi for crisis talks with Charlotte – despite Carrie having plans for drinks with Mr Big. Admittedly their advice about her anal sex quandary isn’t very useful, and she’s sent back to her beau in a tailspin rambling in a panic about how no-one marries “Mrs Up-The-Butt”.

With regard to Carrie’s personal antics, I again have to question her columnist credentials. She squeals at the sight of a tongue piercing and swoons as she spoons. She and Mr Big eventually arrange a date, but his weird angry friend ends up tagging along. After only four episodes this storyline is already quite boring. Carrie reckons Mr Big is like the New York Times crossword: tricky to figure out. But is there any point figuring him out? At least if you figure out an actual crossword you can be entered into a draw to win a dictionary. And (spoiler alert!) no-one has even been jilted by a dictionary.

Carrie’s column: “Are men in their twenties the new designer drug?”

Fashion: Carrie’s lovely furry coat makes its debut, and she rocks a nice blue dress for her meeting with Big. However, her $400 shoes are ugly.

Puns: None.