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.

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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.

Series 3, episode 5: No Ifs, Ands or Butts

“I don’t wanna be a jerk … but I can’t date a smoker” – Aidan

sex aidan.jpg

I had misremembered this episode, in which Samantha dates a black man whose sister doesn’t approve. I knew that was why the relationship had faltered, but I thought she’d offered some sort of Save The Last Dance-style rationale. She doesn’t – she’s just a radge. It’s a shame, because Chivon seemed to have the measure of Samantha, as well as an enjoyably cheesy line in pillow talk.

The episode is all about deal-breakers, and sets up a series of butterfly-inducing first dates only to land a series of gut punches on our poor pals. Charlotte’s new man Brad is a face-licker, Stanford’s paramour collects china dolls, and Carrie’s new love interest won’t date a smoker. He’s Aidan! I’d totally forgotten that Carrie kicked the habit for him – an unrealistic compromise right from the get-go.

Meanwhile, Steve’s deal-breaker is his personality. At one point he wants his mum, sorry Miranda, to go and watch him play basketball but she has to work on a case. “I ask you to do one thing, one time for me, and you can’t – what the fuck is that?” he snaps, before bouncing his basketball off the walls of the expensively decorated apartment he has been effectively squatting in since the emotional manipulation of the last episode. Did I mention I hate Steve?

Anyway, back to Aidan. His and Carrie’s expertly contrived meet-cute results when Stanford spots a “beautiful man downtown selling beautiful furniture” in the New York Times style section. Within seconds Aidan’s rubbing her hand on some ancient leather and bingo, she’s bought a ridiculously expensive chair and snagged a date.

I’ll leave you wish an exchange between Miranda and Carrie, who is giddy at having a crush on a guy for the first time in a while:

Miranda: At this age, I’d have to say I’m crush-proof.
Carrie: What about Steve?
Miranda: Oh god, right, I forgot about my boyfriend – is that normal?

Get out now, Miranda – no good can come of this!

sex aidan coat.jpgCarrie’s column: In relationships, what are the “deal-breakers”?

Fashion: There’s another outing in this episode for Carrie’s coat of many colours, which in itself would probably be a deal-breaker for many. I hope it didn’t cost a month’s rent. I loved the bronze sequin dress Samantha wears when Chivon’s sister delivers her first warning, but by the time they’re brawling she’s in an entirely ridiculous pants-flashing number.

Puns: None per se, but I enjoyed everyone’s horrified responses to Samantha’s attempts at “black talk”.

Series 3, episode 4: Boy, girl, boy, girl…

“I don’t know if I can move forward, but I really don’t want to lose you”
– Miranda, to Steve

sex boy girl.png
I’m not sure if the phrase “bi erasure” had been coined by the time this episode first aired, but it’s probably the most jarring so far in terms of sexual attitudes.

Carrie starts dating a bisexual guy, Sean, and the resulting conversation at brunch is an eye-opener. Despite being an actual sex columnist, Carrie finds it weird that he was “so open about it”, Miranda weighs in that “of course it’s a problem” and Samantha declares that the younger generation are “all about sexual experimentation”, as if to suggest it must be a phase.

Apparently all of the bisexual men and women in college ended up with men, which explains why there are no men left for our heroines. “I’m not even sure bisexuality exists,” adds Carrie for good measure. “I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.” Yikes! It’s not wonder that Charlotte wants everyone to “pick a side, and stay there”, but the others really show their vintage here.

Among the other features that date the episode are: everyone having their mind blown by a “drag kings” exhibition, Carrie saying her and Big were “apparently not Y2K compatible” and, um, a reference to Pokemon. Remember them? Oh wait…

Regular readers with know that I am not a huge fan of Steve. But his actions in this episode take the biscuit. Miranda arrives home from work to find him reclining on her sofa, watching basketball on the TV. It’s important to note that Steve and Miranda do not live together.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” she says.

He replies: “I’ve still got your key from when I fed your cat.”

WHAT? NOT COOL, STEVE. NOT COOL AT ALL.

He then quickly diverts her attention with a promise of Chinese food, then proceeds to police her use of her own television. I think it’s important to bear in mind that Steve lives in a complete shithole. No wonder Miranda freaks out when he tries to encroach further still on her turf.

She does hint at the home invasion when departing from brunch, but Carrie literally tugs at her sleeve and jokingly-not-jokingly whines “What about my problem?” rather than listening.

The episode confusingly conflates gender, gender stereotypes and sexuality – and ultimately opts for a cop-out. Carrie technically doesn’t break it off with Sean because he’s bisexual, but because he, Alanis Morissette and the rest of his multi-sexual young friends are weird and play Spin the Bottle at their house parties.

One more observation: for someone who recently told us she never registered to vote, Carrie sure does make a lot of digs about the then New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Pah.

sex boy girl fashion.jpgCarrie’s column: Has the opposite sex become obsolete?

Fashion: There are some stylish looks on show at Charlotte’s exhibition launch.

I did not approve of Miranda’s floor-length purple satin nightie.

Charlotte made a very handsome guy when drag king photographer worked his magic.

sex boy charl.jpg

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 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?”