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 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.

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”

 

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 2, Episode 16: Was it Good for You?

“It’s amazing – we can feel totally good about ourselves and then it all goes out the window if a guy doesn’t mirror that right back to us” – Miranda

Samantha gaysA recovering alcoholic boyfriend is a Sex and the City Chekhov’s gun: no prizes for guessing how that storyline’s going to pan out. Carrie’s insouciant attitude towards this aspect of Christian Bale lookalike Patrick is, of course, misplaced, as he swaps one addiction (booze) for another (sex).

And worst of all, Carrie can’t really trust his claims that she’s amazing in bed.

This is a sensitive subject for Charlotte, who’s suffered the indignity of her medic boyfriend falling asleep during one of their “love-making” sessions. Not be defeated, and ever the self-improver, she signs all four women up to a tantric sex class. The other three treat the whole thing like a hen party, so it’s hard to feel sorry for Miranda when she ends up with cum in her hair.

Meanwhile, Samantha’s ego gets a boost when a couple she’s friends with – two gay men – decide to try out sex with a woman and choose her as their ultimate girl-crush. It’s all going well until they remember about her vagina, and gently suggest everyone just put their clothes back on. Ouch.

Despite the disappointment of this encounter, it’s hard to disagree with Samantha’s amusingly dated declaration: “Wake up, it’s 2000! The new millennium won’t be about sexual labels, it’ll be about sexual expression.” From where I’m sitting in 2016 I’d say she wasn’t far wrong – and she was certainly right to point out that for a sex columnist, Carrie really is surprisingly narrow-minded. I mean, it took an invitation from Charlotte to get her to a tantric sex class, and even then she had to be strong-armed.

Carrie’s column: How do you know if you’re good in bed?

Fashion: I loved Carrie’s tropical-minidress-and-gold-belt combo (she references teaming dirt-cheap dresses with absurdly pricey shoes) but was less impressed with her date night top-and-trousers ensemble, though it looked a little less Primark in close-up. Perhaps the blah outfit was intended to signify her pulling back from Mr Super-Keen.

Puns: “Would the women who are laughing compose themselves,” requests the tantric sex lady, demonstrating the same remarkable restraint that presumably characterises her approach to everything. They really aren’t being funny, just childish and obnoxious.

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.