Wednesday, July 14

Season One, Episode Five: The Power of Female Sex

... or, in All of New York, They Couldn't Find One Actor Who Could Do a Decent French Accent?

The Summary: All right, so, let's take a break from all that Big Madness (enjoy it, because it's the last break you'll get till the end of the season!) and focus on whether or female sexuality should or should not be leveraged to gain material wealth and power. Let's see!

So, Carrie is quite, quite broke ("broke," in this context meaning, of course, "cannot afford to buy shoes from Dolce & Gabbana) and feeling quite bummed about said broke-ness. In the midst of her sorrow, she bumps into an old acquaintance, Amalita Amalfi, who is variously described as an "international party girl" and a "hooker with a passport." Whatever the case, Amalita is always on the arm of some wealthy gent or other, knows all kinds of festive, moneybags-type people, and invites Carrie to come and socialize with her glamorous friends. Amidst said friends, Carrie meets Gilles, a French architect with whom she spends one charming day, and yes, night. After said night comes a morning during which 1) he leaves, and 2) Carrie subsequently finds $1,000 on the bedside table. Hmmm. Has she been mistaken for a sex worker? Is Gilles just a really good tipper, and the money was meant for the hotel staff? Who can say? When Amalita calls again and seeks to introduce Carrie to more of her posh male friends, Carrie declines said invitation, deciding she does not want to end up on the Amalita Track--whatever that track is, exactly.

Meanwhile, Skipper is sexually obsessed with Miranda, to the point where said obsession is making her uncomfortable. She apparently dumps him over this, because we learn later--dumped he most certainly was! Samantha... doesn't have anything going on in this episode. I guess she's just going about her business as usual. At her gallery, Charlotte has met and been invited to see the new paintings of a reclusive painter, Neville Morgan. Turns out, all of these paintings are of ladies' lady areas--or as he puts it, "the cunt... the source of all life, and pleasure, and beauty." (Awwww, thanks, Neville, I'll be sure to pass that along!) He'd be delighted to show said paintings at Charlotte's gallery--provided that she pose for him first. And by pose, he means, you know, pose--with his benevolent, cookies-and-lemonade-wielding, age-appropriate wife in the background to de-ickify things, of course. So, Charlotte poses. The paintings of ladies' lady areas (which we see at the end of the episode) are very pretty, if you're into "Georgia O'Keefe, The Overtly Vaginal Years."

The Analysis:

Unambivalently Awful Thing in This Episode: The pseudo-French accent on that Gilles character. Pepe le Peu sounds more authentically French than you, sir. Put that away.

Line in This Episode Which Delights Me: After listening to Samantha spewing some crud about how Carrie should just take and enjoy Gilles' money, because "men give, women receive, it's biological destiny," Miranda warns Carrie not to listen to the "dimestore Camille Paglia." They made a Camille Paglia joke! Love it. The show doesn't really seem to take sides between Miranda and Samantha on this one, but I'm still glad to see Miranda call Sam out about the whole "men are naturally sexually predatory, aggressive, and exploitative, and women just need to learn to turn that to their material advantage" malarkey.

Sex Work = Immoral? Watch: At the end of this episode, when Carrie turns down a vacation in Venice with one of Amalita's fancy-pants male friends, she reflects that just because Venice is sinking, her "morals didn't have to go down with it." Hmmm. Something about that doesn't sit quite right with me. It's never spelled out if Amalita is a sex worker or not, but the general sense seems to be that she's most likely a courtesan/high-class escort. And I get not wanting to be a courtesan/high-class escort, I do. I don't blow-dry my hair, own possibly three lipsticks total, and have never gotten a pedicure in my life, so I'm clearly unqualified. But... do we need to be throwing rocks at women who are? Is Amalita immoral for living her life the way she does? Carrie/the show says yes. I would say no. Simply buckets of feminists and sex workers (with plenty of overlap between these categories, natch) have written about the complex politics of sex work, and it just seems a little too cheap and easy to say, "Unlike you, I am not immoral, O Ye Woman of the Night!" Judgey, judgey, judgey.

Next Up...?: "Secret Sex," which is all about... literal-minded episode titles, which leave nothing to the imagination. Ah yes, that, and illicit liaisons of various natures and descriptions!


  1. This is not related to SATC, but I just wanted to point out that (per our recent Dr. Who conversations), the star of "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" is Billie Piper who played the character of Rose Tyler during David Tennant's tenure on Dr. Who.

  2. I will look forward to seeing her in that role! I've seen some of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and I imagine that her role in Dr. Who is... slightly different? Bless you for coming through with the "British Actor" trivia, Ms. K, that is one of my personal favorite things.

  3. This may be one of my favorite episodes. One of the main reasons why Charlotte was my favorite was the fact that she worked at an art gallery. I hated when she stopped doing that. Of course, being an artist myself, I loved any episode that dealt with artists one way or the other.

    and yes, I'm a fan of Georgia O'Keefe, especially the "Overtly Vaginal Years". I saw an exhibit of her abstract work last Fall at the Whitney.

    I can relate to this episode in both ways. Being formerly involved in the sex worker industry YEARS ago, (I'm talking early twenties), I'm very familiar with that whole world, which I am an advocate in it being legal and safe. I've been accused in the past of being too "European" in my way of thinking about sex. Whatever that means. I always believed that people in the States are too uptight about sex as it is.

    Second, I must say I was very delighted with the artist in this episode, and totally agree with the whole "the cunt... the source of all life, and pleasure, and beauty." statement. That's probably why I dedicated an entire solo-exhibit to it as well. Albeit it was a different style, but pretty much the same concept.

    The entire series, particularly episodes like these, to me, definitely reflect the mainstream attitude people in the United States have about sex. Especially when it comes to topics like these.

  4. Oh my goodness, even if people are trying to insult you by calling you "too European" in your attitudes, I reckon that's actually a huge compliment - geez, Europeans have lower teen pregnancy rates, lower rates of STIs, more access to abortion, greater rights/visibility for LGBT folks, and an overall healthier sense that sex is a normal part of life which doesn't need to be a source of Terror, Repression, and Puritan Guilt Run Amok. How terrible of you to embrace such ideas, Ms. C, you un-American lady, you!