Friday, June 11

The Method to My Madness: A Guide to My Pending Episode Guides

So, I make no pretenses that this shall be a systematic, academic study. I bless and commend each and every single person who has applied feminist and queer theories to SATC (surely, you shall be richly rewarded in Academic Heaven for your efforts--Camille Paglia will save you a seat right to her, I am sure!)--but I shall not be doing that here. Instead, my thoroughly unscientific method shall be as follows: summarize, then analyze, with nary a bit of theory stirred into the pot for spice. Trust me, you don't want to watch me try to make an articulate point using the insights of Helene Cixous , since I don't know what the Sam Hill she's talking about 99.9 percent of the time. (I'll Laugh of the Medusa her one day, just you wait.) The following themes and elements shall emerge, I suspect, with some regularity in my posts:

THE SUMMARY: My chance to briefly summarize what has taken place (I was going to say "has gone down," but when your own bad pun makes you sigh in exasperation at how flatly unfunny and obvious it is, you know you ought to refrain. Are you listening, Michael Patrick King, as you even now scribble out the script for SATC 3: The Journey to Mars?) in the episode in question. The phrases, "Carrie clearly cannot afford the items which she purchased in this episode" and "Samantha sleeps with an anonymous, generically hot bloke whom we never see or hear from again, and whose name we never learn" seem likely to recur.

"AND JUST LIKE THAT, SHE WAS A WOMAN AGAIN": CREEPY GENDER POLITICS WATCH: Throughout the series, there are frequently Delphic-like pronouncements about "the way women are" and "the way men are" which are quite breath-taking in their simplicity... and their inaccuracy/retro assumptions about the Great Gendered Divide. It is my hope to reflect on these "ripped from the midterm of an Intro to Women's and Gender Studies student" style observations ("Men are purely guided by lust! Women are purely guided by emotion! Thank you... nineteenth-century health and hygiene guide, which also recommended cold baths as a cure for typhoid???)

"IT'S MY CLITORIS, NOT THE SPHINX": THE SEX OF SEX AND THE CITY: Not entirely shockingly, there is quite a bit of sex/discussion of sex in SATC. It's not TV, it's HBO, after all! (Though compared to True Blood, this here is a kindergarten picnic.) How, one cannot help but wonder, is sex represented in SATC? Let us see...

"YOU'RE PRETENDING WE LIVE IN A CLASSLESS SOCIETY... AND WE DON'T": MASSIVE, UNEXAMINED CLASS PRIVILEGE WATCH: One of the primary things that people who've never even seen SATC know about the show (apart from the fact that Kim Cattrall becomes unclothed... frequently) is that these ladies are living large--posh apartments, designer get-ups (when is someone coming to deliver the dress that Carrie wears to Miranda's wedding to me, by the way?), and, of course, those infamous $400 a pop shoes. How does the show grapple with the tremendous wealth and class privilege of its characters, you ask? Do we move beyond "wealth enhances a man's sexual allure!" and "I will now mourn my impoverished state, by which I mean, I might need to move to an apartment without a shoe closet!"? Hmmm. Only time and viewing will tell!

"I DIDN'T EAT BREAKFAST, AND I'M A SIZE TWO": SIZEISM WATCH: You may have noticed that Sarah Jessica Parker is about the circumference of your left pinky finger. This makes Carrie's insistence that she never exercises quite, quite exasperating--(because, clearly, one's stomach becomes concave and a veritable sea of muscle when one... drinks a considerable amount of alcohol and constantly eats in opulently grand restaurants? Yes, that's what I thought!) In the episode guides which follow, I shall explore how SATC grapples with issues of weight and body image. (I'll give you a hint, even though Lady Bunny appears in a couple of episodes, this ain't exactly the Fat Positivity Hour.)

"I THINK WE ALL KNOW WHAT'S NOT BEING SAID HERE": PERSON OF COLOR WATCH, OFTEN AS IN... LITERALLY TRYING TO FIND ANY: You guys, you might not know this, and I don't want to disappoint you by telling you... but New York is actually not as diverse as you may have heard. I know, I know, I was surprised, too! I mean, you have all those awesome ethnic restaurants, so you'd think there'd be at least one or two people of color around... but it turns out, not so much! Sure, there's the silent Asian man who sells you your cigarettes, the Pakistani bus boy who inexplicably tries to kiss you, the Sikh cabbie who drives you and your white girlfriends around while you chat about the perils and pleasures of anal sex... but that's about it, I think. Unless you're a very special Magical Black Person, who helps the white folks solve their problems and learn Very Important Life Lessons. (It is so nice of the black folks to do that for us, by the way - I am so relieved they're not still mad about the whole "slavery and Jim Crow, persistent racial violence and oppression" thing. Because that would have been a bummer.)

"YOU CAN'T EXPECT TO MOVE TO WONDER WOMAN'S ISLAND, AND NOT GO NATIVE": CRINGE-WORTHY REPRESENTATIONS OF LGBT FOLKS WATCH: So, as has already been discussed on this blog, SATC has a significant fan base in the LGBT community. Considering this fact, it is certainly worth noting that the show has, shall we say, a mixed record in its representations of LGBT folks? Join me, then, as we navigate the perilous line between camp and caricature, go in search of the Elusive Lesbian, scratch our heads at wacky depictions of bisexuality, and feel embarrassed on behalf of all the cisgender people of the world when trans issues come up!

"I JUST FAKED A SONOGRAM": REPRODUCTIVE POLITICS WATCH: So, over the course of the series, both Miranda and Charlotte become mothers, Charlotte struggles with infertility, Carrie has a pregnancy scare, the women talk about abortion (though not nearly enough by my reckoning - one Very Special Episode in six years, seriously?)... who knew that when you start talking about heterosex, discussions of reproductive politics follow right behind? It's almost like they're connected in some way... huh. Anywhoozle, discussions about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood abound in the series, and surely, we shall talk about them here!

"THERE'S MORE TO BEING A JEW THAN JEWELERY": RAMPANT JEWISH STEREOTYPES WATCH: I don't want to startle you, but as it turns out, New York City is home to a handful of Jews. Judaism, Jewish culture, and Jewish folks become central parts of Seasons Five and Six, and make a few guest appearances before then... so take a page out of Charlotte York Goldenblatt's book, slap on a Star of David necklace, prepare to learn some new Yiddish words, and engage in some questionable reflections about how comically bad Jewish food is (I mean, gefilte fish, can you imagine? Oy veh!)

"I COULDN'T HELP BUT WONDER...": RANDOM THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS: And surely, I shall also be reflecting about things which have no clear connections to gender politics, but are still, I feel, worth considering. Like... why does Carrie wear a green felt tiara that looks like it's itching to devour her face to go wedding dress shopping with Miranda in Season Four? Why does the actress who played a disgruntled homemaker in Season One inexplicably come back as a coolly incisive therapist in Season Two? Did she very rapidly change careers, or does the casting director simply think that we won't remember character actors? Oh, I remember, sir or madam. I remember.

NOTABLE QUOTABLES: Which immortal words ought to resound through the halls of SATC history? You be the judge! Or rather... let me be the judge, and pick out little snippets I find particularly charming/horrifying/noteworthy for you.


  1. Thank you for the heads up, your guide to your guide. This should be a very interesting journey. Again, I feel like it's taking a gender studies class using SATC as the vehicle. What a fun way to do it...

  2. I can't promise super-sophisticated gender analysis, but I can at least note "things which, as a feminist, make me happy/make me want to bang my head against a wall."