Season 3, episode 12: Don’t ask, don’t tell

“Marriage doesn’t guarantee a happy ending – just an ending” – Samantha

sex wedding.jpgJeez, these women are right cows when it comes to weddings. The trio have all agreed to be Charlotte’s bridesmaids but each one seems to view this as an enormous favour – and each proceeds to give her a different pre-wedding headache.

First there’s Samantha, bitching and moaning about her dress until Charlotte points out she was only included so she didn’t feel left out. She of course proceeds to sleep with the best man, because god forbid she spends even one night in bed with a good book in the interest of reducing the risk of awkwardness at the reception.

Then there’s Miranda, who resorts to speed-dating (or multi-dating, as the show calls it) in order to find a date for the big day. Um… what? In what culture is it cool to bring a complete stranger to a close friend’s wedding? No-one there is going to notice or care that you don’t have a date, because this isn’t about you.

Then of course there’s Carrie, one-upping the rest by choosing the morning of the wedding to tell Aidan she repeatedly cheated on him with Big. She seems to think she deserves some such of prize for honesty, rather than to be instantly dumped.

“Maybe the whole idea is overrated”, she’d pondered earlier on. “Maybe coming clean is the ultimate selfish act, a way to absolve yourself.” Yes, or a way to make your friend’s wedding day all about yourself and spoil the photos with your puffy eyes.

Of course, the day is already marred by Charlotte’s startling discovery that Trey has bedroom performance issues.Not to worry, says Trey: “Sex is such a small part of it for us … that’s what I love about you.” Oh dear. Samantha was right; you really shouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. But Carrie has the right approach when Charlotte drops this bombshell moments before the big “I Do”. She decides honesty isn’t the best policy, and provides a reassuring explanation involving a poorly-timed wank.

There’s been barely a nod to Trey’s Scottish roots up until now, yet suddenly he’s wearing a kilt and Charlotte’s walking down the aisle to Scotland the Brave. I’m not convinced our Char would have gone along with this, given how much thought she’s been giving to her wedding day for the past three decades or so (I believe this episode provides the first confirmation of their ages – the core trio are all 34 at this point). Her dad’s there, but reduced to the role of an extra, in keeping with the show’s erasure of familial ties and focus on opt-in friendships.

There’s another poignant ending as a heartbroken Aidan slopes off and Carrie joins the others as her voiceover concludes: “It’s hard to find people who will love you no matter what. I was lucky enough to find three of them”. Sniff!

Carrie’s column: In a relationship, is honesty really the best policy?

Fashion: The champagne bridesmaids dresses aren’t brilliant, but they’re a lot nicer than the pantomime efforts Carrie chooses for her disastrous non-wedding a few years later.

Puns: “Charlotte had something old, something new, something borrowed, and someone Samantha blew.”

Season 3, episode 11: Running with scissors

“Could I feel any more like a hooker?” – Carrie

Sex sam.jpgGood grief. A few episodes ago we learned that Miranda had never been tested for chlamydia in her entire life. This time we learn that Samantha – Sa-fucking-mantha! – has never had an HIV test. Ever. What planet are these women living on? And why is she telling the doctor she only swallows when surprised? She’s only just finished gargling with funky spunk!

The revelation gets Carrie to thinking about safe sex, but in terms of emotional rather than physical high stakes. She ponders how useful it would be to be given a pamphlet warning about this type of self-protection. She’s musing, of course, rather than formulating public policy ideas, but this is the direction in which sex education has been evolving for the past few decades.

Of course, there probably aren’t any schools materials pointing out the heartbreak risk of cheating on your nice boyfriend with your dickish married ex. Surely no-one’s so daft they need that pointed out? The “affair” has now been going on for three weeks, and with Samantha refusing to judge her for it Carrie turns to Miranda, who is rightly appalled.

“I’m just so confused,” says Carrie. “I mean, does he only want me now because he can’t have me?”
“Yes,” replies Miranda bluntly, to Carrie’s dismay.

In Carrie’s defence, the affair does seem super sexy: the pair are creeping around in down-market hotels with no air conditioning, bickering about the difficulties of fitting illicit shags into their busy schedules. In one particularly special moment, Big utters the phrase “let’s get those panties off.” That’s it. Game over. Mr Big? Mr Bleurgh.

Carrie’s then horrible to Aidan, cruelly telling him she hates his kissing noise before switching to needy and annoying mere seconds later. Aidan really has a lot of credit in the bank here. Frankly I think he could do better, girlfriend-wise.

Soon afterwards the cat’s out of the bag when Charlotte bumps into the panties-off pair exiting a hotel together. Carrie tries to convince her she feels bad for Natasha, but it’s an obvious lie and Charlotte doesn’t let her away with it. Good.

After a session in the marital bed – and fresh from being mistaken for a prostitute – Carrie says she can’t got on like this. Big responds by threatening to tell Natasha it’s over then issues an ultimatum to Carrie – in or out. Carrie seeks clarification – what’s he really offering? A proper, public relationship, “out in the daylight”? “Carrie, in or out,” he repeats, like a slippery Brexiteer MP. Things then take a disastrous turn (that I’d totally forgotten about) when Natasha comes home early to find a half-naked Carrie in the flat, gives chase and falls on her face.

I’m really not sure why Carrie then declares to Big that “we’re so over, we need a new word for over”. Because he was willing to leave his wife for her? Was she, in fact, was the one who only wanted someone she couldn’t have?

Elsewhere, Charlotte’s hijacking brunch with her quest for the perfect wedding dress. “Kill me, please,” is Miranda’s typically on-message response. “Just take a sharp object and drag it across my throat.” Fortunately, everyone is spared the effort of helping Charlotte plan her outfit when Samantha gives her the number of bitchy stylist Anthony. This seems a little cold. They’re bridesmaids, right? Isn’t this stuff part of the gig?

Sex char dress.jpgCarrie’s column: When you crawl in bed with someone, is sex ever safe?

Fashion: Charlotte wears a nice grey halterneck dress for her trip to Vera Wang with Anthony. It reminds me of the lovely blue number with lapels she sported when Trey took her to Tiffany’s.

I also love the navy shirt dress  and red scarf combo Miranda wears to make an irrational complaint of sexual harassment against a man dressed as a sandwich.

Puns: Nope.

Season 3, episode 3: Attack of the 5’10” woman

“She’s shiny hair, style section, Vera Wang …
and I’m the sex column they run next to the ad for penile implants” – Carrie

sex and the city 5ft woman.png
I’ve lost count of the number of times Carrie has hijacked the ladies’ brunch with a trivial concern about her relationship with Big, but this time it really is a big one: he’s married.

Yes, we knew he was engaged, but when Charlotte stumbles upon the announcement in the paper it’s no wonder Carrie has a major wobble. She can’t help but compare herself to the new Natasha, who’s taller, younger, beautiful … that’s about it really. But she’s Mrs Big.

“What I wouldn’t give for a working fireplace,” she bemoans as she screws up the New York Times and tosses it aside. Sarah Jessica Parker plays the scene perfectly. Naturally, Carrie loses any sympathy by the end of the episode, when she’s incredibly rude to everyone at a Women in the Arts luncheon (that doesn’t seem to involve any actual luncheon) and trying to drag Samantha home without so much as a martini.

Meanwhile, Miranda hires a ludicrously meddling cleaning lady whose campaign of domestic terror starts with buying her a rolling pin and culminates in the replacement of her vibrator with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Charlotte’s sub-plot centres on her lack of body confidence and reluctance to get naked in the spa. We’re supposed to cheer for her when some random tells her “I’d kill for your breasts,” rather than finding it super-weird and inappropriate.

The episode closes with Carrie discovering that Natasha doesn’t know the difference between there and their – a minor victory, but it’ll

Carrie’s column: Are there women in New York who are just there to make us feel bad about ourselves?

Fashion: Carrie does admittedly look fabulous in figure-hugging red at the WITA luncheon, but I’m not sure the dress was worth a month’s rent. I continue to find most of the handbags very cheap-looking.

Puns: Carrie said something in voiceover about members that might qualify as a pun. There’s some good banter about women who quit their jobs as soon as they marry. And an amusing wee one-liner from the luncheon registration desk: “Please wear your name tags – last year we had an unfortunate incident with Joyce Carol Oates.”

 

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.