Friday, June 15

Season Six, Episode Two: Great Sexpectations

The Summary:

Welcome to this, our second episode of Season Six! If, like me, you are at all fond of the character of Jack Berger, and are at all charmed by his and Carrie's romance--sorreeeee, but this is the episode where we start to see Serious Signs of Trouble on that front.  (You couldn't give me at least one solid episode where Carrie and Berger are just charmingly happy together, writers? No?  I thought not.) 

So before we delve into Carrie and Berger trouble, let's break with BOCS tradition and get the other ladies' plot lines out of the way first.  Very doable, since... none of their stories are terribly interesting in this episode.  (Alas.  But they cannot always be, I suppose?) Miranda: addicted to Tivo (a reminder that yes, these episodes did come out in 2003--those misty, far-off days of yore and yesteryear!) Tivo: gets broken.  Steve: fixes it for her.  Miranda: happy about said fixing, sad that she is not with Steve.  Sooo... yeah.  This is like trench warfare, we have advanced nary an inch on the Miranda-Steve Front.  Just mired in the mud. 

Charlotte: has decided to convert to Judaism for her true love, Harry.  Mazel tov, Ms. York! She discovers that said conversion will not be super-easy, however, as apparently synagogues turn you down three times before allowing you to begin the conversion process? (Something which my shiksa self did not know, and is too lazy to look up, to see if is actually true/widely practiced?) Charlotte persists, however, and her path to being a chosen person has officially begun.  (Which is fun not only because this means we get some nice interior shots of pretty old synagogues, but also because the actor who plays Charlotte's rabbi-to-be is totally charming.  And the actor's name is Pierre Epstein, which I would totally want to be my name, if I was the hero of a bleak existentialist novel set in World War II Paris or some such--rather than the WASP academic which I actually am.)

ANYWAY.  Samantha: takes a shine to a handsome waiter at an unappetizing raw food restaurant.  She wishes to sleep with him.  So, it seems, does every other woman in the restaurant.  (Aw-kward.  Doesn't anyone besides me go to a restaurant to just eat anymore?) So Samantha waits all these other ladies out, in a "last one in the restaurant gets the guy" type standoff.  (Do people ever really do such things in real life, by the way? If I am lingering around waiting for a restaurant to close, it is because I hope they will send me home with any and all remaining baked goods.)

Said standoff is successful, and Sam goes home with the lad (who is, indeed, a lad--dewy youth, he is still bespackled with it), has a verrrry pleasant time with him, and then we, The Viewing Public, think we have seen the last of him (as he is but the latest of many Pretty Young Things to pass through Samantha's, um, orbit.) However... we have not.  See you soon, Blond Boy I Find Essentially Uninteresting! I am essentially uninterested to note that I will see you again soon!

Okay, so, onto Carrie and Berger.  The good: they are officially dating, and it is officially (for the most part) delightful! Hooray! The bad: they sleep together for the first time, and it... is not good at all.  (Drat.) Then they sleep together AGAIN, and it is still not good at all.  (Double drat.) Carrie: is disappointed.  She talks to Miranda about it, who sensibly suggests that the notion of sex being ideally and rosily perfect right away is a somewhat unrealistic one, and that Carrie and Berger might have to work on it a bit.  (Carrie: "I've never had to work at it with someone I really like." Miranda: "You might want to keep that to yourself." Thank you, Mistress Hobbes!)

 She then talks to Sam, who says that Carrie's natural impulse to talk to Berger about their issues is unwise, and that instead Carrie should just get them both really, really drunk and buy herself some really, really overpriced lingerie, instead.  (Sensible!) Carrie follows Samantha's advice, though it (shockingly) turns out that getting totally trashed and maxing out your credit card on fancy undergarments is NOT necessarily the best way to address this particular issue.

In the end, Carrie and Berger DO eventually talk about it, and DO eventually have good sex.  So the episode ends on a happy note, thank you Divine Powers of the Universe.  (Happy notes--I will cling to them for the last, precious few episodes I have them for!)

The Analysis:

Uninteresting and Unimportant Detail About The Episode and My Connection to It Which Has Nooooo Relationship to Feminism Whatsoever Watch: That being that I have totally eaten at the pizza place where Carrie and Miranda have their Berger debrief in this episode.  And it is, indeed, a tiny little place in which you have to eat standing up (as Carrie and Miranda do in their, what, five-inch heels?) and it is SPLENDID.  Uninteresting and unimportant, I know, but it brings back happy food-related memories... my favorite kind of memories of all.

"We Should Be Able To Talk About These Things": Actually Introducing The Notion of Imperfect Sex with a Likable Romantic Lead, Miracle! Watch: So there is plenty of bad sex in SATC--in fact, there are waaaaaay more embarrassing, cringe-worthy sex scenes than there are ones designed to appeal to the imagination/flesh.  Usually, sex on the show is played for comic effect, so (usually Miranda and Charlotte's--poor Miranda and Charlotte!) numerous sexual misadventures get a substantial amount of screen time. 

 But when it came to Men We Are Supposed to Take Seriously and Like--usually we hear nothing about, and see nothing of, the sex our protagonists have with them apart from brief mentions or glimpses in the "everything is splendid" vein.  Even in this episode itself, we are immersed in said vein--Harry is the love of Charlotte's life, future husband, and also "the most exciting sex I've ever had," as she tells the ladies.  Miranda: sex is great with (love-of-life-and-future-husband) Steve from Day One.  Carrie: sex is similarly great with (love-of-life-and-future-husband) Big from Day One.  (In one episode, Carrie even proclaims that she can know with absolute certainty that sex with Big could never be bad.  Reeeeaalllly? Nevvvver? Are you suuuuure?)

So in general, the show very tidily plays into conventional narratives about love and sex.  Wretched men you are clearly not supposed to be with? Sex will be comedically terrible. Your soulmate whom you are meant to wed and be with forever? Sex will be effortlessly wonderful.  I seeeeee.

 That being the case, it's a pleasure to see the writers muddying the waters at least a little bit here--Carrie and Berger have a great verbal connection, they really like each other, he's definitely someone we are meant to take seriously as a legitimate, long-term romantic prospect for her--and yet their first couple of times having sex... are awkward and flawed! You don't say! Nice to see the show at least tip its hat (if shows can have hats...?) to the idea that sex might not be romantic-comedy ideal right out of the gate, even with someone who is otherwise fantastic.

Of course, it then undoes a lot of its good work when we learn that Berger very definitely isn't really a good long-term prospect for Carrie, and that the uncomfortable early sex is actually something akin to a flashing warning sign of Troubles to Come...which, come to think of it, is exactly what happened in Charlotte's disastrous marriage--the fact that she and her ex Trey had sexual problems from the beginning (even if these problems were later resolved) was a sign that things were doooomed between the two of them.  Dooooomed, I say, dooooomed!

So maybe I shouldn't be giving the writers any credit at all here, because they don't really disrupt the "effortless good sex = soulmate"/ "imperfect early sex = indicator of pending disaster" binary.  Hmmmm.  But I want to give them credit, anyway! I am not sure what it is provoking this uncharacteristic benevolence on my part... but let's go with it! Credit let there be!

Notable Quotables: Carrie, on the thirtysomething dating life: "Maybe by the time you're in your mid-30s, it shouldn't be called dating.  It should be called 'waiting for the other shoe to drop.' " (Encouraging!)

Next Up...?: "The Perfect Present," Carrie deals with Big (palm connecting with forehead in three... two... one...), Miranda deals with Steve's new girlfriend, Samantha deals with the pretty young waiter she is, it seems, still sleeping with, and Charlotte deals with Judaism.  Much dealing to be done!

Saturday, May 19

Season Six, Part One: Episode One, To Market, To Market

The Summary:Dear Readers (if indeed, you are still there, after these long months of extensive silence from me--and why should you be, really? Your patience, is it infinite? Your capacity to wait, is it boundless? Why should it be?): But if you are there, welcome back! So very delighted to be with you once again.  My very first year as a professor is now over (how...?), and I have officially Come Up for Air.  In sum: being a full time academic--splendid, but also--MAD.  I feel as though the past months have passed in a sleep-deprived, but delightful whirl, in which I frequently had to ask my students what day it was, because I honestly didn't know.  I love being a professor.  I love teaching.  I love my school.  And yet, I also LOVE that it is summer.  Bring on the... sleep!  

And also, bring on the end of BOCS! Much as I love this here blog, I think the summer should see it finally reach its natural conclusion and, well, conclude.  It will be a poignant day, indeed.  But happily, we still have a good bit to go--allll of Season Six (which I quite like), and both the wretched movies (neither of which I like at all.) 

And so welcome, mes amies, to this, the sixth and final season of SATC! I will note, in an uninteresting aside, that this is one of the first episodes I ever saw of the series, and I remember that it thoroughly charmed me/encouraged me to seek out more of the show. Is this because of the insane, awesome shoes which Carrie wears in the opening scene? Is it because of the presence of an adorably scruffy Jack Berger? Is it because there is nothing here to offend my sensitive feminist heart/nerves? Or... all of the above? It seems likely.

So, we begin with Carrie gadding off to ring the opening bell on Wall Street. Said bell-ringing is all presented as madcap fun which, in light of the raw financial hell which said Street plunged us into a few years ago, rather causes the bile to rise in the throat. Wall Street--shame on you, I find you charming not one small bit. Carrie--I disapprove of your mindless celebration of unfettered capitalism, while simultaneously admiring your clothes. Contradictory.

ANYWAY, the Wall Street thing only really matters because it inspires Carrie's central question of the episode, that being: when investing (in either the financial market or in the dating market) is so inherently volatile and unstable... why the heck do we bother to do it? Well... why do we?!? (Ummm... because we are greedy and keep forgetting that the Great Depression ever happened, and gents like Berger seem to promise that Dating Hell can sometimes be more entertaining than it is painful? I dunno... enlighten me, episode!)

So Carrie is considering investing herself in a new relationship, with my own personal SATC crush of the moment, Jack Berger. They are soon to have their first date, and she is super, super excited--and also super, super nervous. She obsesses. She buys multiple new outfits. At her friend's insistence, she goes on a "simudate" with a nice bloke she's not remotely interested in "to take the edge off Berger" which, predictably, is an unmitigated disaster. (And, I will note, not terribly fair to the poor, nice bloke. Messing with the feelings of a gent you care not a jot for... not cool, Bradshaw, not cool at all.)

Carrie only calms down about her pending date with Berger after she bumps into ex-boyfriend Aidan (of "disastrously dated and painfully broken up with not once, but twice" fame.) Turns out, Aidan is happily married and has a fetching new baby, and (happily for him, Carrie, and us, not necessarily in that order) as such is clearly demonstrably fine, even after having endured not one, but two, hellaciously awful breakups with our own Miss Bradshaw. And Carrie realizes that she, too, is clearly demonstrably fine, even after surviving the very same breakups (as well as assorted other romantic disasters, over the years.)

So, weirdly (but happily for Berger, Carrie, and us, not necessarily in that order) remembering all her past heartache, and realizing that she was strong enough to survive it, inspires Carrie to let go of all her anxiety about her date with Berger and just... go on her date with Berger. (Carrie, reflecting that if she and Aidan both made it through their nutty relationship unscathed: "there was nothing I could do on a first date that I couldn't bounce back from.") So she calls him, and they meet up to go to a movie. And they are charming and adorable together and IT IS MY HAPPY TIME NOW, SO DON'T REMIND ME HOW QUICKLY THINGS GO SOUR.

Okay, so, onto the other ladies! Miranda's plotline, as it so often does, gives me a ripsnortin' headache. Miranda realizes one night, having a lovely evening with Steve and young Master Brady, that she is, in fact, in love with Steve. (In related news, the world is round, and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You heard it here first!)

Terrified by all these lovey-dovey feelings, Miranda nonetheless eventually decides that she needs to, you know, tell Steve that said feelings are ones she possesses. (Thank you, Jesus and any other adjacent deities.) So she invites him to dinner at a romantic restaurant, gets all prettily gussied up for said dinner, gears up to tell him... but before she can, he tells her that he's just started dating someone new, really likes her (that is to say, the new girlfriend), and is no longer in love with her (that is to say, Miranda.) Head, desk, I think by now you know what to do? Good, carry on without me, I need to go find myself a wee little drinkie.

Happily things are somewhat better in Charlotte Land--well, from my perspective, anyway, if not from Charlotte's. I am happy as the writers seem to have ramped down the "Oh, Jews! What strange and alien people they are!" malarkey they pulled so often in Season Five. Charlotte is rather less happy, as her Jewish boyfriend can't marry her, because she is non-Jewish. Alas. Or, oy veh, or whatever.

Beginning to contemplate converting to Judaism, and trying to understand why this whole "Jewish thing" is so important to her beloved in the first place, Charlotte finally learns that Harry primarily wants to marry a Jewish lass so that he can raise his future youngsters Jewish. Oh dear. This revelation means, of course, that Charlotte has to make a revelation of her own, and disclose her own fertility problems/potential inability to have children to Harry. Tears, they flow. Sad memories, they are brought back.

Happily, however, Harry tells Charlotte that he loves her no matter what, and that they can always adopt if they can't have their own biological youngsters. Excellent!

And as for Samantha... boooooring. She sleeps with some beautiful young bloke who has just moved into her building and whom we progressively learn is 1) a trader on Wall Street, 2) is a somewhat shady trader on Wall Street, who gives insider tips to his lady friends, and finally 3) a very shady trader on Wall Street, who gets hauled off by the cops at the end of the episode. Wall Street guys who are morally suspect? Sam sleeping with a generic pretty gent we never see again? Shocking!

The Analysis:I... really have very little to say about this episode, apart from the fact that I enjoy it.  I am totally charmed by Carrie and Berger (they have such a relaxed, witty dynamic together--so much more fun than the bland pleasantness of Aidan Shaw, or the laconic creepiness of Mr. Big--well done, Bradshaw!), I am somewhat annoyed that the writers keep jerking me around re: Miranda and Steve (as they have done for the past four bloody seasons), I am quite glad that Charlotte and Harry are happy together (and that the writers are back-pedaling a leetle bit on the 'Oh, those amusing Jews! How peculiar they are!' style humor), and I am completely uninterested in the boring pretty-boy Samantha sleeps with.  Nothing to really inspire my feminist love, or to rouse my feminist ire--just a pleasant episode, with some fun shoes.  As the Jews would say--meh.  I'll take it!

Notable Quotables:
Carrie, on investing: "I like my money right where I can see it... hanging in my closet."

Carrie, bubbling over about the utopian future she and Berger are going to have together, and how happy she anticipates they are going to be together: "I love this time before the first date when you can make statements like that, and almost believe them."

Carrie, on dating: "Caring too much is like a disaster magnet." (Good, excellent, I will try to convert myself into an inanimate, unfeeling block of wood, then!)

Next Up...?:
"Great Sexpectations"--see what they did there? It's a terrible pun! Nice to see the writers back on form when it comes to Creating Puns That Make You Want to Slash Your Wrists.  So, as one might expect in our next episode we contemplate what happens when you expect sex to be great, and are disappointed to find it terrible. (And yes, I would be talking about Carrie and Berger here, and yes, that makes me wish to weep silent, bitter tears off in a corner somewhere.  Waaaaaahhhh!)

Friday, January 6

Introducing... Season Six, Part One

Welcome back and Happy New Year, dear friends! What a pleasure it is to see all of your smiling faces once again! (Not that I can actually see you, so much--but I know that you are there, which is a true delight and pleasure to me.)

Okay, so, believe it or not... we have officially made it to Season Six, the very last season of SATC! Amazing! Though, to be totally accurate, we've really only made it to the first part of this mythical last season. Yes, our friends over in HBO/SATC verse decided that it was a vitally necessary creative decision (translation: that they could extract yet more of SATC fans' shining cash from their eager/gullible pockets) if they divided Season Six into two separate parts. Two separate DVD sets equals twice the moolah, after all! Oh, HBO executives. Your shameless money-grubbing never ceases to charm and beguile me.

Anyway-- what awaits us in this mythical Season Six, Part One, you ask? Oh, dear readers. So, so very much!

When it comes to Carrie: several awkward conversations/encounters with Big (a thing which I'm sure Chris Noth was eternally grateful for--man needs an extra boat/house/expensive watch or two, after all), a relationship with Berger which gets pretty darned tricky pretty darned fast (why must you always so thoroughly and ruthlessly strip my world of all sunshine and pleasure, writers? Why???), several noteworthy developments in her writing career (remember that Carrie has a career? Turns out, so do the writers!), and a handful of New Men for her to contemplate (Carrie can muse over the various merits of said New Men as much as she likes--me, I'll still be in the corner with my tissues, mourning the Disappearance of Jack Berger. Why, writers, why???)

When it comes to Miranda: yet more drama with Steve (wait, did I hit my head and wake up back in Season Two? Or Season Three? Or Season Four? Or Season Five...? I think you see my point, even if, alas, the writers did not...), yet more adjusting to mummyhood, and yet another beautiful new fella for her to contemplate. Headache-making as the writers' torturing of us re: Miranda and Steve is, this still does not involve Miranda being abjectly humiliated (much)... so I'll take it!

When it comes to Charlotte: major drama in her relationship with Harry (though since the jokes at the expense of Les Jews are easing off a little in Season Six, I guess this is improvement over Season Five...?), and... that's really about it! Hearts are broken, hearts are mended, weddings are involved. Charlotte's previous discontent with her lack of employment... not involved at all! But I mean, really, a lady can only focus on a career OR a man at any given moment, am I right? (Hint: I am not right.)

When it comes to Samantha: an actual relationship, with someone less slimy and vile than her ex Richard, if less interesting and complicated than her ex Maria. I... guess this is progress...? Oh, and there is also a plotline which revolves around her dying of her pubic hair. Of course there is! It cannot be an SATC season without at least one plot hinging on public hair! I expect no less!

Next Up...?: "To Market, To Market," in which the dating market and the stock market are repeatedly and heavily-handedly compared. As this was filmed in the pre-downturn, pre-Occupy era, its cheery celebration of Wall Street causes your blogger some distinct unease/distaste. Happily, she still has Jack Berger to counteract said unease/distaste. Hooray! Counteractment!

Friday, December 23

In the Final Analysis... Season Five

Hello, dear friends! [Insert obligatory note here about how, once again, I went radio silent for a loooong stretch of time without so much as a by-your-leave, because the demands of the academic life grabbed me by the throat and refused to let me out of their death-grip until now. Not that I am not absolutely delighted to have the chance to be in said death-grip, because surely, I am... though I have missed you all. Awwww.]

And so, as we jump back into life after our (okay... my) unplanned two-bloody month hiatus--are you ready to pass judgment on Season Five and all its delightfulness and (correspondingly) lack of delightfulness? I do hope so, for I (as I so often am) am in rather a judge-y mood today! (Perhaps this is because I have been grading so much recently, which always makes me moody and vindictive? Who can say?) In any case... to the judgment!

People of Color Watch: Okay, so, to start us off... how are we doing re: the tally of people of color present in (let alone featured in) SATC? Has Season 5 transformed the SATC verse into a veritable rainbow of diversity and inclusivity? Oh, sweet readers. What do you think?

Alas, if your thoughts tend towards the pessimistic... you are sadly all too right to let them do so! In Season Four, we had nine characters of color, three of whom had any real substance, significance, or meaning to the plot, and in Season Five we have... six incidental characters of color who are just kind of there (possessing one line, appearing as a silent background character, etc.), and two of any real substance or significance. I know that Season Five is way shorter than Season Four, but still... progress--this is not it.

And more unfortunately still, both of the characters of color present in Season Five are magical African-American women, who exist primarily (okay, exclusively) to make our white heroines feel all warm and tingly inside. (The chaffeuse who drives Carrie home from her book party makes her realize how much she has accomplished by getting said book published, Miranda's neighbor Kendall offers practical advice, and makes Miranda feel better about her life as a mother, etc.) Awww, thanks, magical black ladies! You make my life as a race-privileged white woman sooooo much easier! Now please disappear entirely until I happen to need you to boost my self-esteem, 'kay? Many thanks!

LGBT Folks Watch:
All right, so, super-short Season Five--doesn't really get us too far, when it comes to diverse, thoughtful representations of people not as white as, well, my Kabuki-white self. But what about the queer folks, I hear you ask? What about their presence (or lack thereof, your humble blogger notes pointedly) during the season?

Weeeellll, in Season Four we had two incidental LGBT characters, who came and went without making much of a peep/impression and four more substantial, significant characters, and in Season Five we have (lackluster drumroll, please!)--four characters, total, all of whom actually play a meaningful role in the episodes, but still... depressing!

Of the four, we have Anthony (playing his usual role of "entertaining sidekick to Charlotte"), Stanford (playing his usual role of "dryly witty sidekick to Carrie") Bobby Fine (playing the sadly-only-temporary role of "catalyst for our four straight female leads to muse about their romantic lives"), and Marcus (playing the delightful role of "nice boyfriend to Stanford, and pleasing eye-candy for us all.")

I mean, I guess this isn't too bad? Yes, Anthony is pretty much just here as comic foil to, and source of moral support for, Charlotte, but at least Stanford gets a rather more substantial plot line this time around, as his relationship with the charming Marcus develops? And yes, Bobby is present primarily to spark romantic cogitation among our four leads, but his story line also raises intriguing, complicated questions about how love works, and what it means? Okay. I'll go with this as not toooo terrible. [Blogger pauses to incline her ear to an invisible audience.] What was that you said? Something about lesbian women existing, too? I'm sorry I... don't know what you're talking about. I think lesbianism is a myth invented by the liberal media.

Things to Clap One's Hands Together with Glee About:
What else is there to say about Season Five, then? In no particular order, things which made me happy about said season:

1) JACK BERGER. Oh yes--you know I was going there! And not just because I have a crush on Ron Livingston, and find him adorable. (Though this... is certainly true.) I just appreciate seeing Carrie (potentially) with someone who is as smart and verbal and sarcastic as she is, for a change. Big=too busy smoking and being adulterous to be wordy. Aidan=too busy whittling and looking sweet-but-doomed to be wordy. Berger=too busy being wordy to notice that some members of the SATC audience have a thing for him. Oy, Jack! Over here!

2) SINGLEHOOD MUSINGS. It will surprise you not one, well, single, solitary bit if you have read this here blog before that one of my favorite things about this season/the series in general is its take on Ladies and the Single Life. Yes, some of the ways that this season explores those issues are kind of messed up (suggesting that all unmarried ladies end up as oddballs who chat about their drug habits to complete strangers in diners? Seriously?).

But on the whole--I think the season does some good solid work here. Sam decides she'd rather be single than be with a cheating jerk (about which, more anon.) Carrie keeps facing her demons about being a single lady in her 30s... ultimately realizing that she has a pretty darned blessed life which she ought to be grateful for, and that there are worse things than being unwed and over the age of 35. And I appreciate the show, er, showing that this is something of a struggle sometimes (sometimes she gets lonely! sometimes men she fancies are already taken! sometimes society makes her feel like a freak for being sans ring!), but that fundamentally, the single life is one worth living. Thanks for that, writers, much appreciated!

3) MOTHERHOOD EXPLORINGS. I also quite enjoy the hard-headed way that this season tackles motherhood. It doesn't just give Miranda a baby and leave everything else in her life unchanged, but rather stresses again and again and again that pretty much everything in her life has changed, in the wake of her becoming a mother. And that that's not a bad thing, but that it is a hard thing--that she needs to find a way to stay connected to her friends, and to date, and to manage her insanely demanding lawyer-y job, all the while meeting the immense emotional and physical demands of new mommyhood. And that sometimes... that is more than a little tricky!

And bless SATC for not glossing over the complexities and challenges, as well as the pleasures and contentments, of motherhood. It's nice to see Miranda as cranky and tired and frustrated when she can't figure out how to breast-feed, as well as kind of gobsmacked at the sheer wonder of having this new little person in life. Complexity. Nuance. I am such a fan of both!

4) SANE DECISIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE MENFOLK, FINALLY, THANK GOD. Over the course of Season Five, what a pleasure it is to see our leading ladies, for the most part, making quite sane, rationale, and healthy decisions when it comes to their entanglements with the menfolk. Well done, y'all! (With a possible exception of Miranda sleeping with Steve, and then freaking out about what that might mean, and skipping town... but I guess the writers needed to give us something to look forward to/dread in Season Six?)

Otherwise... full marks, writers! Carrie: behaves surprisingly rationally and non-self-destructively in her dealings with Big, and wisely only allows herself to flirt with the delightful Jack Berger when he is officially and completely sans girlfriend. Charlotte: FINALLY starts to move away from her "I can only be interested in gents who are pretty and rich" shtick, and lets herself care about someone who is... okay, still rich, but not conventionally pretty. I'll call that one for Team Progress! Sam: finally decides to dump Richard, who is an unpleasant, womanizing creep. Good. Call. There. Jones.

Things to Bury One's Face in One's Hands in Despair About:
But you know it's not all sunshine and roses over in my neck of the woods, don't you? Oh, dear readers. Of course you do. So what about this season did I find icky and unpleasant, you ask? Welllllll:

1) STRANGE, DISTASTEFUL COMMENTARY ABOUT JEWISH FOLKS AND HOW ANIMALISTIC AND WEIRD THEY ARE. It continues to baffle me that in writing about New York City (a town known for having one or two Jews around, and possessing an overall friendly and receptive attitude towards The Chosen People)--and in several cases being Chosen People themselves--the writers are so "creepily stereotypical-bordering-on-anti-Semitic" when it comes to their depictions of Pretty-Much-The-Only-Significant-Jewish-Character-In-The-Series-Thus-Far Harry. He is crass! He is vulgar! He is sweaty! His body is oddly, comically/quasi-monstrously hairy! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

2) WEIRD, UNPLEASANT REPRESENTATIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT RAIL THIN. I do continue to feel a distinct displeasure at the ways in which this season reflects on the question of Miranda's ostensibly significant weight gain. Because 1) Cynthia Nixon is bloody gorgeous, and suggesting her body is somehow inferior, defective, or less-than is quite ridiculous--this season she may look more like a woman who has had a child, doesn't go to the gym every morning for three hours, and actually eats solid food, and it would have been nice to see that celebrated, rather represented than as a "problem" which needs to be fixed, and 2) Cynthia Nixon was actually bloody pregnant during this season, and any time we get into critiquing a pregnant woman's body (even if the character herself isn't pregnant), I feel a flicker of dislike and distaste.

I am also still bummed that they played their Weight Watchers plot line the way that they did--shilling for Weight Watchers at all (one), and making the cute bloke Miranda meets there automatically be a comic romantic misstep on her part, rather than a serious romantic prospect for her (two.) I guess it was nice to see a not-rail-thin-bloke be a romantic interest on the show, even if it is for about a minute and a half, and he is summarily discarded...? Maybe...? Slightly...? A little bit...?

3) UNDESIRABLE, UNCOMFORTABLE REPRESENTATIONS OF CLASS POLITICS. I feel like I say this every season (oh, because the show engages in it every season, I knew there had to be a reason!), but the ways in which class politics are depicted on the show (when they are depicted at all) continue to make me uncomfortable. This particular season, I am undelighted to see how Steve's working-class, Queens-based family are represented: as sleazy, drunken rubes who can't even make it through a christening ceremony without getting sloshed and hitting on someone. How vulgar people not part of the 1 percent are! Especially the Jewish ones, as I understand it...

Next Up...?: We take a sneak preview of... the beginning of the end! Jeepers, how did we get here already? However we did, getting to the end we most certainly are--when we are together next, we will officially begin thinking about the very last season of SATC, the mythical Season Six. And what awaits us in Season Six, you ask? Carrie starts dating Jack Berger (yay!), Charlotte and Harry are still together, and figuring out how to manage the whole "we want to get married, but Charlotte is not a Jew, so we can't get married, drat" thing (challenging!), Miranda is continuing to navigate her way through mommyhood (tricky!) and through her weird, ambiguous relationship with Steve (even trickier!), Sam starts dating a pretty young lad a couple decades younger, and several shades blonder, than she is (whatever!) Lively times ahead!

Friday, October 28

Season Five, Episode Eight: I Love a Charade

The Summary:

Welcome, my dear friends, to this, the finale of the minute and miniscule Season Five! (Eight short episodes, and yet I still had to pay almost as much for Season Five as I did for the eighteen-episode-long Season Four. Not cool, HBO. Not. Cool. Though maybe I, too, deserve some of the blame here, since I most certainly allowed myself to be thus price-gouged...?)

Anyway. To happier matters! The happiest of said happy matters being that this episode has, as its very special guest star, one Mr. Nathan Lane. Yayyyyyy! I do heart me some Nathan Lane. Here he plays cabaret star Bobby Fine, a long-standing casual friend/acquaintance of Carrie's, who has a charming lounge act, a reliable stream of amusing one-liners, and a series of entertaining bow ties and cravats which he sports over the course of the episode. Good. Times.

Bobby is in ways the heart and center of this episode, in that at the beginning of it, the ladies learn that the very-much-gay Bobby is about to marry the very-much-straight socialite-of-a-certain-age Bitsy von Muffling. (I will give the writers a free pass on the ridiculous unreality of that name, just because it is so. Fun.)

Bobby's pending nuptials throw all of our four women into a confused tizzy. Why, they wonder, are Bobby and Bitsy getting hitched, when Bobby is so clearly not into The Ladies? Are Bobby and Bitsy, as they both insistently proclaim, deeply in love? Or is something else at work here? The ladies don't know. We don't know. No one, apart from Bitsy and Bobby themselves, seems to know! (But I do know that I can think of worse people to marry than Nathan Lane. I wouldn't mind if he had a steady stream of boyfriends, if he let me borrow his cravats sometimes, and told me juicy stories about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans involved in making The Lion King.)

Meanwhile, Carrie's own love life becomes significantly more complicated/confusing/AWESOME when everyone's (okay... my) favorite sarcastic writer, Jack Berger (with whom she had a brief, delightful flirtation, until she learned he had a girlfriend, a few episodes back) pops back into her life... this time, having broken up with the aforementioned girlfriend. YES.

Carrie: super-excited that Berger is now a Free Bird, and as such, can now freely, er, bird-ly pursue her. Berger: likewise (except, you know, in reverse.) But can things go smoothly for these two crazy kids, when it comes to their resumed, now-totally-legit flirtation? Oh, my dear readers. Of course it can't.

In one of their early "Berger-is-now-available, hooray" conversations, their shared commiseration over their past breakups quickly devolves into a crazy rant on the part of the (admittedly very nervous) Carrie, about how gut-wrenchingly, heart-breakingly terrible breakups are, and how she wonders if she could ever survive another one. (Spoiler alert--she can--and will! Several, actually!)

In the wake of this rant, Berger freaks out a bit, and gets the heck away from Carrie as soon as he possibly can, leaving her (and me) sad. But then... he comes back at the end of the episode, making her (and me) happy. He tells her that even though the heaviness of their last conversation shook him up a bit, "maybe we should go out on a date before we break up." YES. I am SO in favor of that. See you in Season Six, Berger! Be sure to bring your awesome eyebrows and self-deprecating, sarcastic sense of humor with you, s'il vous plait!

Okay, so, BERGER. Goody! Do the other ladies have anything quite as fun happening in their lives, you ask? Hmmmm. Not really. Though much of interest, to be sure. Miranda is, once again, in a confusing place when it comes to Steve, as she has, once again, slept with him while they are actually not a couple. Of course she has.

Scared witless by said sleeping-with and what it might mean, Miranda is delighted that Bitsy and Bobby's wedding in the Hamptons provides an excuse for skipping town and putting off dealing with the "her-and-Steve-what-the-hell" situation for a bit. (Miranda, to Carrie, as they make the trip out of New York: "I'm a fucking fugitive. Literally.")

While at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding, Miranda misses Steve, and decides to call him to tell him about said missing. Good, this seems like progress! Though of course, his voicemail picks up, and she is too chicken to leave him a message. Arrrrrrrgh! (Head and Desk gently, sorrowfully embrace, too exhausted by this point for violence.)

Samantha, meanwhile, has conned her very own ex, the slimy Richard, into loaning her his beach house in the Hamptons for the weekend, so that she and the ladies will have somewhere fun to stay while attending Bitsy and Bobby's wedding. Richard's house is opulently beautiful, if sadly marred by the presence of what Sam calls his "party-crashing pussy posse"--a group of twenty-something gals wearing microscopic bikinis at all times, whom Richard has apparently given carte blanche to, to stay at his abode any old time. [Blogger remembers, not that she had forgotten, that Richard is a creep, and that she never liked him.]

Samantha had thought that she was completely past the pain of her relationship with/breakup from Richard, but seeing these lithe young things (and being thus reminding of Richard's taste for lithe young things specifically, and for lots of women generally) vamping around the place... shall we say, reopens old wounds? Reopens them to the point where she ends up smashing one of his beautiful glass windows, when she hurls a melon at one of these young lasses. Yikes! Clean up in Aisle... Hamptons!

Charlotte, meanwhile, is simultaneously 1) endlessly nitpicking about/criticizing every aspect of her new quasi-boyfriend Harry's body, style, way of eating, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, and 2) falling in love with him, because, despite said alleged "vulgarity," he is kind and funny and just generally awesome. (My heart belongs to Jack Berger at this point in SATC Time, Harry, but please consider yourself adding to the short, distinguished list of "Men in the SATC Verse Who Are Actually Nice, and Seem Like Someone You'd Actually Be Really Glad to Find Yourself/One of Your Friends Dating.")

The spanner in the works arises (because you knew there would be one, did you not, dear readers?) in that Harry (as we are reminded all the bloody time) is Jewish, and is firmly committed to marrying a Jewish gal. And Charlotte, as we know, is the most shiksa-ish of all the shiksas. Hmmmm. Tricky. What to do...?

There is also a brief, shadowy Stanford and Marcus subplot in this episode (yay! Stanford and Marcus!) Carrie is a leetle jealous of Stanford, because while she and all of her friends have spent pretty much their entire lives looking for the perfect relationship with the perfect guy, Stanford seems to have actually found such a guy/relationship. (With the added bonus that Marcus is, shall we say, not unpleasing to the eye?)

Of course, as ever when a character is proclaimed to have the "perfect" life in the world of SATC, it is quickly made evident that all is most certainly not perfect--e.g., Stanford: "Marcus and I haven't had sex since we bought the Cynthia Rowley china." Okay, so, bummer on the intimate contact front, but on the plus side... Cynthia Rowley china! Also on the plus side, the last we see of those two lovebirds in the episode, they are dancing at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding, cracking each other up, and generally looking like a happy couple (whatever rough patch they may be making their way through at the moment.) Sniffle. Stay happy, you two! Much like Carrie, I do not know how many more breakups I can stand!

The Analysis:

"Let Us Try, with Mixed Success, to Conceal Our Lead Actress' Pregnancy By Putting Her in a Crazzzzzzy, But Also Fabulous, Dress" Watch
: So by this point in Season Five, SJP was quite pregnant with her first youngster (which explains why Season Five was so darned short... oh, babies! You are so cute, except when you are messing with my tee-vee programs, or my long plane flights!) I know the dress that The Amazing Pat Field slapped her into for the climatic scene at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding was somewhat controversial in terms of whether or not it actually concealed Parker's pregnancy (one), and whether or not it was a pretty dress (two)--but personally, I love it. I would totally wear it, meself, except for the fact that it would doubtless make me look pregnant, which I, notably, am not. (Unless my uterus has been making some serious plans without me, which, happily, it usually does not.)

A Random Note About Nathan Lane Which I Am Going to Mention for No Particular Reason Except That I Want To Watch: As I have mentioned once or twice on this here blog, I am a proud native of the great state of New Jersey--which meant that, during my and my sister's youth, we sometimes got to do things like go into New York City for school field trips. (Thank you, largesse of the pre-Chris-Christie NJ school system/the unfailing generosity of my parents!)

Anyway, after one of said field trips to see a Broadway show, lo these many years ago, my sister came back raving about this singer/actor dude she'd seen, and about how amazing and funny and great he was, and how she was sure that one day he'd be a Big Bloody Deal. Said dude was, of course, one Nathan Lane by name--already a theater muckety-muck, but unknown to TV or film at that point in time. Good eye, my sister's got! It always gave us a rather proprietary feeling about him and his career--we knew and loved him before the masses jumped on board the Lane Express. Glad you made good, Nathan L.!

People of Color Watch: The singer at Bobby and Bitsy's wedding is African-American. She has a gorgeous voice which I very much admire. She is wearing a lovely, glamorous gown which I also very much admire. She... is the only person of color at Bitsy and Bobby's HUGE soiree. Good to know that the Hamptons are as lily-white as NYC is in the SATC universe, anyway! Consistency!

LGBT Folks Watch: NATHAN BLOODY LANE. Oh, and Stanford and Marcus, whom I also love. They all look very dashing/charming in their wedding attire, and I am glad to see Stanford and Marcus given some more screen time as a lovely, functional, actually quite realistic couple. We have come along way since Stanford was only allowed to have weird, one-episode-long romances with strange doll collectors. Hooray for progress!

"I Think You Might Have Sold This One a Little Short": Friends' Opinions of One's Significant Other Being Both Delightfully Clear-Sighted, and Decidedly Important, Watch: So when Charlotte admits to her friends that she is kind of dating Harry, she says many a dismissive thing about him--about how short and unattractive he is, about how vulgar and messy he is (lovely!)--but when her friends actually meet him, and find out charming he really is, they give Charlotte a (much-deserved, in your humble blogger's opinion) kick in the pants, about having focused more on the fact that Harry is, say, bald than on the fact that he is, in fact, delightful. Thank you, Miss York's friends, for being more clear-sighted about What Really Matters and Who is Really Good for You than young Miss York herself is!

I appreciate the little shout-out here to the fact that one's friends are usually a pretty good barometer of whether or not one is making Good Dating Decisions (GDD? Or is that too much like G-D?)--if they hate the person in question (cough, Big, cough), then that is an excellent, bright, shining red flag of danger and trouble ahead--and if they like them, perhaps it is a sign that you should stop being a shallow jerk, who cares more about the shirt this person is wearing than she does about the actual mind, heart, and spirit contained within said shirt (cough, Charlotte, cough.) Well done, friends!

"I Think I'm Falling In Love with You": Charlotte FINALLY Gets Over Her Pretty Boy Issues Watch: You may recall that this series began (lo these many, many years/months ago, depending on whether we are talking real time, or BOCS time), with Charlotte's ideal man being characterized by the possession of the holy trinity of "looks, manners, and money." So--not shallow at all, then!

Ever since we learned that these (unpleasantly narrow, shallow criteria) guided Miss York's dating life, we started to see her verrrrrry slllllowwwwwly shedding said criteria. Before marrying Trey, she dated a lot of gents who were handsome, polished, and wealthy--and yet total creeps, nonetheless. In marrying Trey, she successfully nabbed someone who was polite, rich, and pleasing to the eye--and with whom, despite Trey's fundamental decency, she was pretty unrelentingly miserable.

And with Harry, she is finally with someone who (although obviously very well-off) is not conventionally handsome, and certainly not conventionally posh and polished. And she is actually falling in love with him, even though he doesn't look the way she thinks he should look, or act the way she thinks he should act. Turns out, the quality of the person is more important than the quality of the clothing or of the table manners or of the bone structure! It took us/Charlotte Y. five seasons to get here... but here we finally are. SUCCESS.

Except... There is Still Lots of Creepy Stuff Happening Around the Fact that Harry is Jewish and How That is Talked About Watch: Okay, so, I guess I can't call the Harry plot line a total win, even though he is delightful, and it is nice to actually see Charlotte happy/finally burst out of her insanely shallow "what I am looking for in a fella is WEALTHY PRETTINESS" bubble. Because one of the big themes in this episode is that Charlotte is totally repulsed by how hairy Harry's body is (writers, your pun license? You will lose it for good the next time you pull a stunt like that. Consider yourself warned.) She actually persuades him to get his back waxed, so hairy is it. (About which... yeouch!)

And, forgive me, but something in the "let us continually harp on Harry's Jewishness, while also highlighting the fact that he has this 'animalistic' body" thing makes me uneasy. Perhaps it's because, in anti-Semitic cartoons and images, Jewish men are often represented as extremely hairy beast-like creatures? Something for us to think about/be made quasi-nauseous by?

"No, I Look Good Standing Next To It": My Imaginary Boyfriend Jack Berger Mocking Tropes of Conventional Masculinity, Just to Make Me Love Him More Watch: The first thing we see Berger do in this episode is to roar up on a motorcycle, clad in black leather. I am not objecting to this, on the one hand--but on the other hand--please. Why not just have him have a phallic-like gun strapped to his thigh, and have done with it? Helloooooo, images of conventional hypermasculinity! Nice to see you again/to never to be able to quite escape you!

Happily, the first thing we hear Berger say in this episode is something self-deprecating about how ludicrous it is for him to be running around the Hamptons on a motorcycle, clad in black leather, like the hero of a B-grade action movie. When Carrie tries to compliment him on how good he looks on his silly motorcycle, he responds with the line from my title above. He admits that he likes the appearance of being all tough and manly--but that in actuality, he is scared out of his senses trying to ride the darned thing, and bought it as a hypermacho over-reaction to his depressing breakup. And somewhere out there... a feminist heart beat a bit faster. (That is to say... in my house/in me.)

Unlike Big, who, throughout the series, unironically swaggers with outward, obvious symbols of masculine power (the suits, the cigars, the big, expensive limousine, the conspicuous displays of wealth, the endless parade of interchangeable model girlfriends, etc., etc.), Berger--though not entirely immune to the lures of hypermasculinity--is at least aware that it is pretty silly for a slight, neurotic writer to be riding around on a Harley. And we love us a guy who can acknowledge and mock the sometimes absurd visions of "Manliness-With-A-Capital-M" upheld by our reliably weird culture! Keep up the good work there, Jack B.! And don't hurt yourself!

"No Babies": Samantha Actually Learning to Be a Supportive Friend to Her New-Mother Friend Watch: So much to like in this episode! Maybe seeing Nathan Lane swan around in formal wear has simply washed my brain with so many endorphins that I have been rendered incapable of saying negative things? It seems not unlikely.

One of the arcs of this season which I quite like (which is pleasantly resolved in this episode) centers on Sam's evolving attitude towards Miranda's motherhood. As you may recall, at the beginning of the season, Sam was all "get that boring baby, and your boring talk about motherhood out of my face. I do not care about your mother-ly problems, and having to walk next to a strolller is annoying." She starts to mellow a bit as the season progresses, however, finally agreeing to try to do nice things for Miranda, and to actually spend some time with her and her youngster.

And by this episode, the mellowing process is finally completed. At the beginning of this episode, Sam is still on her "I do not want your baby crashing my fancy-pants beach house/party"--but by the end of it, we see her dancing at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding with Miranda and wee baby Brady. Awwww. Not wanting youngsters yourself, or being terribly fond of them, as a rule? Fine. Being mean to your friends who are mothers, and curling your lip every time one of their babies comes into your line of sight? Not fine. And happily, Ms. Jones seems to be well and truly over all of that, as we bring Season Five to a close. Excellent!

"There's My Girl... Whom I Love": Love Comes in Many Forms, and Is Sometimes More Complicated than Specific Sexual Categories Allow For, Who Bloody Knew Watch: As you may have gathered from my summary, this episode begins by making fun of the very notion of Bobby's pending marriage/bride. ("Bitsy von Muffling," seriously? Why not just call her "Loopy von Crazypants" and have done with it? Though still... Bitsy is a pretty great name for a charmingly off-kilter socialite, I will concede.)

But as the episode progresses, we start wading into deeper, and rather more interesting, waters. It is pretty darned clear that Bobby is still sexually interested in men (as his leering over Marcus in a bathing suit attests)--yet if Bitsy and Bobby are to be believed, they are sleeping together, and quite happy to be doing so. Is this all theater, designed to look their marriage look more conventional? Maybe. Or maybe it's true. We leave the episode not knowing... and ultimately, with the episode stressing that that is not the most important thing. Bitsy and Bobby are in love, are soulmates, want to be together... and how, exactly, they're arranging their sexual lives--their business.

Huh. That... actually seems quite positive! Well done, episode! And congratulations, Bitsy and Bobby--please feel free to invite me over for brunch at your posh house in the Hamptons any old time, I bet that would be fun! I'll bring the cravats!

Notable Quotables: Carrie's voiceover, as she dances with Berger (YOU LUCKY LADY, YOU) at the end of the episode: "Some people are settling down. Some people are settling. And some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies." If by "butterflies," you mean getting to eat lots of wedding cake, and to dance with adorable writers, while wearing cool sixties-style dresses... then I am suddenly SO pro-butterfly!

Next Up...?:
We take stock of Season Five! Excellent. What made your humble blogger happy? (Hint: HATS, and Jack Berger.) What made your humble blogger unhappy? (Hint: Quasi anti-Semitism, and Big.) And of course... much, much more!

Friday, October 21

Season Five, Episode Seven: The Big Journey

The Summary:

Welcome, my friends, to yet another episode in which I am compelled, against my will, to talk about Big. Le. Sigh. But his presence in this episode is not toooo terribly annoying, so... I'll take it! I will thank heavens for small mercies! I will count my blessings! And so on, and so forth.

Okay, so, Carrie hasn't had partnered sex in quite some time, and is feeling this rather acutely. (She tells the ladies, in more detail than seems quite... legal in a public venue, that she has been having dreams about running up to complete strangers and imploring them to do various things to her. I am sure the family with kids sitting at the next table was glad to know this information!) Given that her book tour (ooooooh, fannnnncy) will shortly be taking her to California, she has decided that this particular itch can productively be scratched by... you guessed it... the newly West Coast-ed Big. I see.

Carrie insists to her skeptical friends that she is now entirely devoid of any real feelings for Big, and as such can safely bed him without dire emotional consequences to herself. And for once... she is actually right! She can, and she does! Who knew!

Granted, there are some bumps along the road to said encounter (of course there are.) She initially thinks she won't end up calling Big when she gets to Cali, after all, because she has suddenly developed an unsightly blemish. (But then... it disappears!) And then she thinks that the usually-obliging Big will not, well, oblige, since he's actually read her book, and as such has also actually reckoned for the first time with how absolutely crappy he was to her when they were dating, and how much he hurt her through said crappiness. Scruples about what sleeping with him again might do to Carrie's emotional life--Big has them. (But then... they disappear!)

So Carrie--has slept with Big. Chris Noth--has presumably gone out and bought himself a nice new boat with the proceeds of those few minutes of screen time. What of the other ladies, you ask? Miranda... has literally nothing going on. Nada. Nary a thing. She is still a lawyer, still a mother, still exists in time and space. But other than that... we know nothing. Fair enough! Hope all is well with you, Mistress Hobbes! At least we have no evidence to the contrary...?

Not much of interest going on with young Ms. Samantha Jones, either. She is bored with New York, and feeling a little midlife-crisis-y. To shake things up, she decides to accompany Carrie to California. She doesn't really have a great time. Bummer. Except that that makes her return to her actual life in New York with something resembling appreciation and gratitude. Okay! That's better!

I guess Charlotte's plot line is the most interesting of the lot this episode (defining, of course, the word "interesting" rather loosely). Interesting does not mean, I hasten to add, that it is not also MADLY predictable from word one--as the dear gentlemen of MST3K once said, of a particularly obvious "reveal" at the end of a particularly dopey horror movie, "even dead people know what's going to happen!"

So Charlotte begins this episode by loudly proclaiming that for women, emotions are inextricably intertwined with sex--that they have to have a genuine emotional investment in a bloke before they sleep with him. She also loudly proclaims that she does not like/has no emotional investment in her divorce lawyer, Harry. Doesn't like him on the one hand--staunchly insisting women need to feel for in order to sleep with on the other. Can you see where this might be headed, dear readers...?

If you answered... with Charlotte sleeping with Harry, then consider yourself a winner! Give yourself whatever you feel is the appropriate number of stars! Yup, in a shocking twist, just as Charlotte was insisting that she would never get involved in an emotion-free sexual encounter, because this is something that women never do (even though... she is friends with Samantha...?)--she gets involved in an emotion-free sexual encounter! You shock me!

Said encounter (and her desire to have other such encounters with Harry in future) leads her to seek out a tutorial from Anthony about how to successfully conduct such assignations. And surprise, surprise, in seeking to follow Anthony's advice, Charlotte finds that she... is not very good at acting like Anthony, after all! (But they are so similar in their personalities, tastes, attitudes, and feelings about love, sex, and courtship! Oh, wait...)

Plus, turns out--Harry is really sweet, and obviously actually cares about her. Hmmmm. Any guesses about where THAT might go? All together now: "Even dead people know what's going to happen!"

The Analysis:

LGBT Folks Watch:
Anthony--just for something new and different! He is amusing in the few scenes that they give him, as per ever. And I am glad to see an actual gay, recurring character, even if he is something (okay, a lot-ing) of a raging stereotype of What Gay Men Are Like. (Outrageous buddy to uptight straight girl? Check! Obsessive interest in both fashion and anonymous sex--not necessarily in that order? Check!) Ah well. He at least reminds us that The Gays do, indeed, exist... which the show is all too often in danger of forgetting. So... success? A little bit...?

"He's Sweaty and Pushy": Continuing Questionable Language About Our Lone Jewish Character Watch: So on the plus side, Harry is... still around! Yay, Harry! Unlike 98 percent of the gents in the series, Harry is a nice guy, who seems like someone you would actually want to know, in real life. (Unlike pretty much all of Sam's conquests, and certain BIGS who shall remain nameless.)

On the minus side, I am still creeped out by how he is talked about here--Charlotte stresses over and over that he is not the kind of guy she wants to date because "he's not very attractive"--because he's all sweaty and pushy and vulgar. Given that these adjectives/ideas all too powerfully echo long-standing, pernicious stereotypes about The Jews, and Harry is, as we are oft reminded, one of the Chosen People... this makes me more than a leetle uncomfortable. And we haven't even gotten to the extended joke about how "hairy" Harry is yet... brace yourselves for that sucker anon!

"Are We the New Bachelors?": Some Rubbish About the Allegedly Shocking Fact That Women Like Drinking and Sex Watch: So the overarching frame for this episode is Carrie's question of whether or not single women of the early 21st century are "the new bachelors." (Answer: No. Moving on!) Carrie is suddenly struck by the fact that some women... are happily single and resistant to the idea of commitment! That some women... have sex outside of long or short-term relationships! That some women... enjoy cocktails! Therefore... they are just like Hugh Hefner, circa 1962, I guess? Forgive me for thinking this is essentially balderdash. Actually, no, it's not even essentially balderdash, but rather is straight-up, no-holds-barred balderdash! And also something that Helen Gurley Brown (God rest her wacky soul) realized back when it actually was 1962. For goodness sakes, people.

Notable Quotables: Samantha, on how handling a midlife crisis is tricky for her: "I already fuck younger guys. And I don't want a sports car."

Next Up...?:
Our season finale ("I Love a Charade," by name) if you can believe it! We have arrived at the very end of this very short season! And there are very fun things for us to very carefully consider, I, um, verily say unto you! (These sentences brought to you by the word/by variants of "very.") Sarah Jessica Parker is by now clearly pregnant, but Carrie Bradshaw is not, and is very excited to once again run into... the dashing Jack Berger. (Your humble blogger is very excited about this, as well. Yayyyy! Jack Berger!) She runs into him in the Hamptons, where Samantha is throwing a party at Richard's house (???), Charlotte is realizing that she actually likes Harry, despite his (sigh) alleged vulgarity and physical unattractiveness, and Miranda is once again ambiguously, quasi-romantically involved with Steve. Oh, and Nathan Bloody Lane is around, too. Hooray! Lane-ness!