Carrie's friend, the fashion designer Javier, has died of a heroin overdose at the unacceptable age of 34, and said death has gotten all of the ladies thinking about life, death, mortality, the works. Carrie, declaring that "sometimes I felt like I was barely living," decides that one good way to feel alive again would be to call, and set up a date with, Big. [Head, I believe you remember Desk?] They go out and almost sleep together, but Carrie refrains in the end, because you know--Big=Emotional Minefield. But then, they go out again and do, in fact, sleep together. (Carrie: "I didn't know if it was suicide or not, but I'd never felt so alive.") Oh dear.
And the other women? Charlotte meets a guy at Javier's funeral (funerals being ever popular sites for Love Connections, of course.) Turns out, said guy, Ned, uses his sorrowful tears over his dead wife to lure emotionally susceptible ladies into feeling pity for him (one) and subsequently sleeping with him (two.) When Charlotte learns that he is expressing his, ahem, grief all over town, she is quite, quite displeased and Ned promptly finds himself dumped.
Sam also finds herself in quite a pickle, when she is caught by a prominent socialite in a distinctly compromising position with said socialite's husband. (Didn't we have this talk about laying off the married guys not in open relationships last season? Have we learned nothing here?) Said prominent socialite makes Sam's name mud in town, ensuring she can't get into any restaurant/party/event anywhere. (Another perk of living in the sticks--I'd like to see anyone try to get me blacklisted at Perkins.) Eventually, Samantha makes friends with Leonardo DiCaprio (who does not actually appear in the episode, alas--in 1999 he must have still been too busy trying to dodge the roaming hordes of Titanic fans), and her reputation is restored. So fickle is New York society!
Miranda is buying herself a new apartment, and it is fannnncy. (Can I please have a lawyer's salary without, you know, actually having to be a lawyer?) She loves the apartment, and is sooooo excited about it. Universe, can you please try to bring her down? Heaven forefend that Miranda should be happy, after all. Thanks. So, the realtor who sells the apartment to her asks bewilderedly, "It's just you...?" when she learns Miranda is buying the aparment for herself and only herself, and tries to set Miranda up with her son. The broker who helps Miranda to close the deal asks "It's just you...?" dubiously, and assumes that her down payment is coming, not from Miranda, but from her father. (Ladies, making money on their own? Please.) Miranda's new next door neighbor asks "It's just you...?" suspiciously, and proceeds to tell her that the last owner, also a single woman, died in her apartment, and that said death went unnoticed so long that her cat ate half her face.
In the face of all this charming negativity, Miranda has a panic attack. Reassured by Carrie that all these people are losers and that she'll never be alone because she'll always have her friends, Miranda gets much of her initial happiness about her shiny new (and bloody HUGE) apartment back. Good!
I Am So Sick of Watching Carrie Self-Destruct Over Big, and We've Just Started Season Two, Sigh, Watch: I don't have the energy to get into the whole "Carrie-sleeping-with-Big-even-though-she-knows-full-well-that-he-is-bad-news" thing properly here, but I will briefly note that 1) I am well aware that we are sometimes viscerally drawn to people who are profoundly bad for and to us/who are mad, bad, and dangerous to know in general, 2) I guess it's something that Carrie is at least aware that what she's doing here is dangerous at best and self-destructive at worst, but 3) I am nonetheless finding the Big plots very tiresome to re-watch. I just want to write "PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THIS BEAUTIFUL, FUCKED UP MAN" on a big pink Post-It, and staple it to Carrie's forehead.
Severely Needing to Re-Prioritize Your Priorities Watch: Remember back in Season One, when Carrie noted that Charlotte's top three most important qualities for a gent she was dating to possess were "looks, manners, and money"? Turns out, Ms. York hasn't progressed too far down the Road Away From Shallowness since then. Because why is Charlotte so interested in dating Ned, apart from his whole Tragic Romantic Past thing? Charlotte, explaining his allure to the ladies: "He's really handsome, and he went to Princeton." Ahhhh, of course. Not that I'm knocking either of these things, but seriously? Did he maybe also seem like an interesting person, or not...? Charlotte makes quite the journey over the course of the series in terms of what her "dream man" looks like--at the moment, I fear, we are still at the very beginning of said journey... Sigh. Again.
"Did Someone Just Order a Victorian, Straight Up"? Watch: And speaking of Miss Charlotte York... when Miranda is complaining about how proud she is to own her own apartment, Charlotte warns her that such ownership might put the kibosh on her ever getting a fella because "men don't want a woman who's too self-sufficient"--that such economic independence on the part of a woman is "emasculating." The other women are (rightly) appalled by this statement (the Victorian crack above comes from Samantha, bless her), but, as other commentators on SATC have noted, Charlotte is often presented as the "voicer of unpleasant, un-P.C. 'truths' " in this series, so this leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. "You may not like to admit it, but by holding property in your own name, you instantly transform yourself into Queen Castrator!" Please. The Victorians themselves would be ashamed of you for that one, missy.
"It's Just You?": Facing Bafflement/Condescension Simply Because One is Single Watch: My favorite part of this episode, to be sure, is the Miranda plotline, in which she gets hit on all sides with hostility, bafflement, and perplexity because she is a single woman in her mid-thirties, buying her own home. At every turn, Miranda's happiness in buying herself a home that she loves is undercut by people who assume that she can't possibly be financially successful/independent, that being single inevitably leads to one day becoming cat food, and that she, as a woman living alone, is a problem which needs to be fixed. Worn down by this constant barrage, Miranda snaps temporarily--but she bounces back again, and comes to savor living in her own apartment, which she loves--and she is happy! On her own! Imagine that!
Oh, and a brief P.S. on the whole "It's just you...?" phenomenon: I feel compelled to note that the last time I traveled, I thought about this episode all the bloody time, because when I asked for a table for one in restaurants, I got asked "It's just you...?" (in those words, I kid thee not) all the bloody time. Well, let's see, it's just me standing here... I did specifically ask for a table for one... and as far as I know, the Holy Ghost isn't much of one for dining out, so... yes, it is in fact just me! Gave me a weird "am I Miranda?" feeling, that did.
Slightly Annoying Things About the Miranda Plotline In This Episode: Remember how I said the Miranda plotline was my favorite part of the episode? It totally is, but I do want to nitpick at it, a bit, nonetheless (you knew I would):
First Nitpick: When her broker misfiles her paperwork for the new apartment, and lists her as "separated" rather than single, Miranda has to e-mail him to correct this error. Carrie describes this "I am actually single" missive as "a rather humilating e-mail." Ummm, remind me why this humiliating, again? Typing "I am single" actually almost tips Miranda into another panic attack, for Pete's sake. Let me see. I am single I am single I am single. There. I typed it three times in a row, and I have never felt less panicked in my life. I get that this is part of Miranda's "I am sick of people making judgments and constantly harping on my singlehood when all I want to think about is new curtains" thing, but still--let's lighten up on the "even stating that you are single is a humiliating act" talk, shall we?
Second Nitpick: I also feel a troublesome little pang that Miranda's way of demonstrating her status as an independent woman is to buy herself a massive apartment. It is a means of declaring one's independence which is, after all, very much tied in to class privilege. And it's the first taste of a theme which pops up again several times throughout the series--that empowerment/independence can best be measured and demonstrated in material goods/concrete possessions. Hmmmm. I think not.
Notable Quotables: Miranda, in the midst of Apartment-Buying Madness: "I've got the money, I've got a great job, and I still get... 'It's just you?' "
Next Up...?: "The Cheating Curve," about what actually counts as "cheating" in a relationship. [Resists the urge to make an already dated, and always tasteless, Tiger Woods or Al Gore joke here.]