Monday, September 20

Season Two, Episode Nine: Old Dogs, New Dicks

The Summary:

So the question before the court (you, dear readers, being the court--you can also be judge, jury, and executioner, if you like) today is--can you change a man? Given SATC's usual un-lovely leanings towards gender essentialism (i.e., "Men are just hard-wired not to like domestic labor, it is part of who they are." Then fry me a donut, because ipso facto, I too must be a man!), I'm going to say... no. And--spoiler alert!--I am absolutely right. Or at least--pretty close to absolutely right, anyway.

So, Carrie and Big are having problems. (I could pretty much add that sentence to all of my posts from here on out, now, couldn't I? Methinks that I could.) Big is driving Carrie up a tree. (Ditto that sentence.) Turns out, he can often be quite arrogant, and has a raging sense of entitlement! (And we are only noticing this now...?) Turns out, he is just as cagey about properly letting Carrie into his life and heart as he was the first time that they dated! (And we are surprised by this how...?) Carrie is furious at him, but, true to form, can't bring herself to say anything to him about how she's feeling. So when he inadvertently pushes her out of bed whilst they are sleeping one night, she responds by punching him. Ah, how healthy it is to repress one's anger, clearly!

The Punch forces her to finally articulate just how angry and upset it makes her that he never stays over at her place, she doesn't have a key to his place, and how she overall feels like he just isn't making a real place for her in his life [notes to self that self has used the word "place" far too many times in this sentence, but is too lazy to change it for another word.] In response to this painful, heart-felt admission, he... agrees to stay over at her apartment sometimes. Okayyyyy... and all those other, broader issues and concerns? No need to address those now, I guess! Fan-frickin'-tastic.

Meanwhile, Miranda has commenced dating Steve, who, mercifully, is entirely unburdened by any Big-like tendencies towards obfuscation and nastiness. Yay, well done, Steve! But... (and you knew there would be a "but") since he is a bartender, he keeps loopy hours, showing up at Miranda's apartment at 3 a.m., and eager to have sex in the early morning, right when the lawyer-ly Miranda needs to get up and go to work. He also wants to laze around on the weekends, whereas the high-powered Miranda wants to leap about all over the city, a whirlwind of activity, instead. Ah. Tricky. Miranda is frustrated that she's expected to change her schedule and her life to suit Steve, while he isn't correspondingly expected to change his life or schedule to suit her. But... she nonetheless does change said life and schedule, in the end--slowing her workaholic pace down a bit, to stop and smell the roses with Steve. Hmmmm. Tricky.

Meanwhile, on the Charlotte front: Charlotte is dating Mike who, she discovers, has not been circumcised. She is physically repulsed by said lack of snippage (come now, Miss York, work with us), and seeing said repulsion, Mike tells her that he's planning on going under the knife to "correct" the "problem." All ready to swoon over this as a romantic gesture (as romantic as a procedure of that nature can ever be, that is) Charlotte is stopped mid-swoon when she learns that Mike isn't getting the surgery for her, specifically, but rather because he wants to share his new masculine beauty with the ladies of New York, generally. Charming!

And meanwhile, on the Samantha front: Sam runs into an ex-boyfriend, Brad, who is now a drag queen... calling himself Samantha. He started doing drag, naturally, right after he and Sam broke up. Of course he did, I am told that that happens all the time.

The Analysis:

"Why Is It That Women Are Always Supposed to Change, and Never the Guy?": Ladies Needing to Adjust to The Needs of Their Men Watch
: I am a little ambivalent about the Miranda-Steve plotline here--said ambivalence taking the following, ever-popular, pro vs. con form:

Pro: This plotline does at least raise the whole "ladies are still expected to be the ones to make adjustments and compromises for their fellas--kinds of adjustments and compromises which fellas are not expected to, in turn, make for their ladies."

Con: Of course, we have Charlotte piping up and saying that this is just the natural order of things, since women are just innately more flexible than men. Sigh. Predictability, thy name is York. Forgive me for being struck by the fact that this "natural" inclination is one which also seems to line up quite neatly with women's long history as a less powerful group, who have needed to learn to be more "adaptable" as a survival mechanism.

Pro: At least the writers frame this not as "Miranda needs to learn to follow Steve's inclinations because she is Steve's woman now, dammit!" but rather as "Maybe it would actually be nice for the workaholic Miranda to be with a guy who's more mellow, and encourages her to slow down, relax, and enjoy her life a bit more, rather than just rushing through it."

Con: On the other hand... that does play rather neatly into the ever-popular, ever-irritating "career woman learns to mellow out and find happiness by not being so work-obsessed" plotline of which our friends in Hollywood never seem to tire. Those career gals! They do stand in dire need of a good man to mellow their brittle, unfeminine-ly ambitious selves out, now, don't they?

In this particular pro vs. con arm-wrestling match... hmmm. I'll give it to the "pro"s for now, but that's primarily a pity vote, because I happen to know that the "con" side is headed for a big win soon, in Miranda-and-Steve-Land. Oh, "con," you always have your wicked way with me, in the end!

Yet More Gender Essentialism Watch--When Will It End???: You are already aware that Charlotte's "gents need to be accommodated by their women, because they are hard-wired not to change, the lovable scamps!" remark does not sit well with me. Cats cannot be persuaded to change, I will grant you. Pieces of furniture cannot be persuaded to change, I will concede to you. Rivers cannot be persuaded to run backwards, I will admit to you. But men... who (do correct me if I am wrong) are rational human beings, are consequently also capable of compromising and adjusting in grown-up, un-cat-like, un-armchair-like, un-river-like ways.

I am also annoyed by Sam's reply to Carrie when Carrie laments that Big relentlessly checks out other women when he's with her (and presumably, when he is without her, as well--even less subtly, if that's possible, since his eyes are practically on stalks when gawping at other ladies when with Carrie)--that such unceasing lady-scoping-out-ing is "part of men's genetic code." Grrrrr. No, it's not, Madame Jones, it is tacky and rude, and part of Big's whole "I am the King of the Universe, let me survey my domain" shtick--a shtick which comes, I would contend, not from biology, but rather from the fact that as a rich, white man he has come to see the world as a parade which has been assembled purely for his amusement. (See also "Trump, Donald.") But just because he thinks that he is entitled to coolly assess each woman who passes before his eyes with his girlfriend right by his side (or at any other time, for that matter) does not mean that he actually is.

Bad Break-Ups Cause Men to Become Drag Queens, Seriously? Watch: So, this episode kind of shoves Brad into the action, and then quickly abandons him, leaving his whole plotline rather incomplete and unsatisfactory. For the few minutes he is on screen, however, the implication is quite strongly made that it was dating (and ultimately breaking up with) Samantha which made Brad become a drag queen. Of course it was. Because clearly, it is only negative romantic experiences with women which could lead a bloke to desire to become a drag queen. [Slaps palm smartly against forehead.] If Sam had not mucked about with his heart, clearly he would have remained an ardent standard-bearer for normative masculinity! (The man used to be a star football player, for Pete's sake. Way to pile it on, writers. Did he also work part time as a lumberjack, by any chance?)

Troubling as this "ladies cause 'abnormality' in the gentlemen" plot line is, I will say one positive thing about the Brad story, in that Sam does ask Brad at one point about his kids, at which point he burbles away happily about their various doings. So I will give at least one (small) gold star to the writers here, for emphasizing that yes, Virginia, drag queens can be loving fathers, too. But otherwise--gold stars, I withhold them.

Notable Quotables: Carrie, on how the arrogance and sense of entitlement which once drew her to Big is now making her nuts: "Maybe we were at that inevitable point in the relationship when all those little things you loved about the person have become huge liabilities."

Steve, to Miranda, in response to her desire to have a regimented, carefully-timed, flawlessly planned Saturday: "You want a time frame for cuddling?"

Next Up...?:
"The Caste System," in which we tackle the issue of hierarchies in relationships--specifically, how class politics impact one's romantic life. As always when SATC tackles class issues, I'd encourage you to buckle your seatbelt, assume the crash position, and perhaps consider purchasing some cotton wool to protect your tender ears/brain. Because it is one bumpy ride that we have ahead of us...

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