Monday, July 26

Season One, Episode Eight: Three's a Crowd

The Summary:

Learning from Charlotte that her new fella wants them to try a threesome (Miranda: “Of course he does, every guy does.” Really? Even the Pope?), Carrie decides to make threesomes the focus of her latest column. She goes around New York asking complete strangers about the topic (which I would think might be awkward, but no matter!), and then decides to go a bit closer to home, asking Big if he’s ever done one. Turns out he has… with his ex-wife. Huh. Carrie didn’t so much know that he’d ever been married! (Big, keeping secrets and being shady? SHOCKING.) Instead of asking Big about said ex-wife and marriage, she elects instead to stalk the lady in question. (Sigh. And just one short episode ago, I was so proud of you for being all direct and candid with Big, C.B.) Discovering that Big’s ex works in publishing, Carrie sets up a meeting to pitch a book proposal to her (ostensibly) and to gawp at her/find out as much as possible about her (actually). (What Carrie neglected to discover, however, is that The Ex works in children’s books, so she has to invent a children’s book plot on the spur of the moment—Little Cathy and Her Magic Cigarettes. Sounds like a bestseller to me!)

The Ex is accomplished, beautiful, charming, smart—Carrie ends up liking her a lot. Bummer. At their next meeting, Carrie (still not revealing her secret identity as Big’s current inamorata) learns from The Ex that she and Big had broken up because his wandering eye had (as The Ex puts it) “wandered right over to my best friend.” (Classy, sir, very classy.) Noticing that Carrie is acting loopy, Big calls her out on said loopiness and then, poof, the floodgates open. Turns out, Big and his ex-wife still talk, so he already knew that she’d met Carrie! Turns out, (according to Big, anyway), that he and The Ex had had a threesome/he had been unfaithful “because we were both looking for something, or someone else”! Carrie is appeased by this explanation. And why not, I don’t see any red flags there except… [struggles with the prospect of listing them all. Yikes.]

Elsewhere in Threesome Land: Samantha is involved with Ken, who is married. Sleeping with a married bloke is great, Sam tells the ladies, because it’s so no fuss, no muss—his commitments, his time, his attention is all safely dedicated elsewhere. Surely, that logic couldn’t possibly backfire… until it does, and Ken decides he wants to leave his wife for Sam. Whoops. She dumps him immediately, of course… perhaps, taking away a lesson about the Perils of Adultery? I hope?

Meanwhile, Charlotte muses over whether or not she actually wants to do a threesome with her new gentleman caller, Jack. She decides that she might. When an opportunity arises at a party, Charlotte decides that she’ll go for it… only to find out that by “have a threesome,” Jack meant “sleep with another woman and forget that you exist.” (Cue Charlotte’s Disappointed and Baffled Face.)

And speaking of disappointed and baffled… Miranda’s feeling a little of both because, when the four ladies had been discussing threesomes over brunch (pity the elderly ladies sitting at the next table…), she gets left out of the “who would you do one with?” chatter. (Charlotte says she’d feel safer doing one with a friend like Carrie, Carrie says she’d prefer to do one with an experienced lady like Sam, and Sam says she’d want to do one with a newbie like Charlotte… no room for Miranda, apparently!) Miranda talks to her therapist about it. She responds to an ad for a couple seeking a third party for a threesome, hoping that they, at least, will validate her as threesome-worthy. They do, and uninterested in actually threesome-ing, Miranda promptly dumps them. Problem… solved, I guess?

The Analysis:

Adultery As A Source of Comedy Watch: Maybe I was just forced to read Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina too many times in college, but the light-hearted way this episode treats adultery troubles me. (Not that I think all adultery plots should end in trains and arsenic, I want Edna Pontellier to still be with us, painting and daydreaming about grassy fields as much as the next person.) I quite intensely dislike the fact that Sam’s efforts to have a trouble-free fling with a married guy are almost exclusively played for laughs in this episode. Yes, the affair blows up in her face and gives her some uncomfortable moments, but the pain she caused her fling’s wife and the damage she did to said wife’s life/marriage—glossed over and made light of. Later in the series, the show takes issues of (in)fidelity and its human costs very, very seriously indeed, but clearly… we are not there yet. Until we get there, please, Samantha, stay away from the married gents not in open marriages/who are cheating scum? I promise, you’ll be glad you did!

Ladies Pursuing Their Own Inclinations, How Charming, Watch: Remember all that stuff I said a few posts ago about how any “alternative” sexual practice is almost always reacted to with distaste by our “normal” ladies but warmly embraced by Samantha? Well, when I said “almost,” I meant it—because darned if Charlotte doesn’t consider doing a threesome in this episode. The show makes it clear that she initially considers it just to make her new gent happy (thumbs down) but eventually considers it because she genuinely wants to do it, for herself (thumbs up.) And her friends are very charmingly supportive, urging her to do it if and only if she actually wants to, and not to do it if she actually doesn't. Good, good, good.

Threesomes=Sign of Immaturity? Watch: Of course, Charlotte never actually engages in any threesome-like activity, because it turns out that when her fella said that he wanted to have one, he more meant… that he wanted to cheat on her/have sex with any other lady who offered. (Delightful.) I’d take this as an isolated incident of “well, that guy’s a schmuck,” were it not for Carrie’s final words in the episode—that the appeal of a threesome is that it’s easy—that it’s being in a relationship like hers, with only one other person, which is “the bitch.” Now, I get the point here—that actually seeking to have an intimate relationship (rather than just a casual, numerically complicated encounter) with someone is hard. Point taken, duly noted. But if I was going to be picky (and you know that I am going to be picky), I think this could also be read as “My monogamous self is more interested in doing the hard emotional work of having an exclusive relationship, unlike those shallow folks who distract themselves with silly things like threesomes.”

My antennae always perk up (or whatever it is that antennae do) when I hear an “us vs. them” tone creeping into Carrie’s pronouncements—when her musings seem to lean in a “clearly, my choice to be in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship signals my emotional maturity, unlike those other people, who take the easy/shallow way out” direction. Because equating only monogamous, heterosexual relationships with validity/emotional maturity/legitimacy… doesn’t have the nicest history. Fly the Heterosexual Monogamy Flag high, by all means, I knock it not—it’s a fine flag. But… don’t be insulting other people’s flags, in the process. [Wonders to self if flag metaphor works, or is too suggestive of the Olympics/United Nations/games of Capture the Flag. Cannot decide, so leaves it in. Also, wonders what the Heterosexual Monogamy Flag might look like… hopes it has a dragon on it. All the best flags have dragons.]

Notable Quotables: Carrie, musing on how hard it is to not have Other People loom large in a relationship, as she tries (and fails) to sleep in Big’s bed one night: “Because even if you’re the only person in the bed, someone has always been there before you.”

Miranda, trying to explain to her therapist why being left out of the Threesome Discussion bothers her so much: “If your friends won’t go down on you, who will?”

Next Up…?: “The Turtle and the Hare”—otherwise known as “The Ladies Go to a Wedding.” Ooooh, I always love those episodes! (Excluding the wedding in the second movie, which prominently features both Liza Minelli and an interminable rendition of “Single Ladies.” HORROR.)


  1. Little Cathy and Her Magic Cigarettes!!! That was the best! :)

    I do feel rather embarassed for Carrie when she pulls stunts like this - snooping to get info about exes and the like. I guess it shows that it's a natural thing for us all to feel a bit insecure.....but going that far?? For what? To compare herself? Nowadays, she can just log on to Facebook...

  2. Oh my goodness, can you imagine Carrie on Facebook? She almost has a meltdown in Season Four when she gets a bloody e-mail account, for Pete's sake. DISASTER.

    I loved Little Cathy, too (though maybe it's "Lil' Cathy," now that I come to think of it?) - and agreed, it's hard to watch her beat herself up here/insecurely measure herself against The Ex ("your ex-wife is so much prettier than me, your ex-wife is so much accomplished than me...") - yikes! I guess that's one positive thing I can say about the second film (imagine) - she seems pretty comfy in her skin by then. Put that one in the plus column!

  3. lol, oy vey. Having some experience in this activity, I wondered what the big hoopla was about. I find it amusing when it's presented as such a big-to-do.

    Once again, I feel as long as there is a clear understanding of what's going on with everyone involved then, whateva. But yes, I agree there's no need to be shady about anything.
    The adultery thing, I won't even get into all that right now, lol. I actually wrote about that in my zine I put out years ago, before my blogging days started when I was actually still writing and putting out stuff in PAPER form.

    I understand where Miranda is coming from though, I think I'd feel left out too, as twisted as that may seem.

    Stalking the exes, yep I agree with Lisa on this one, that's what Facebook is for, lol. If some kind of internet social utility like that was around then, they probably would have done an episode about it. Or did they?

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