The Summary: So, Miranda’s friend Jeremy (who lives in London, but is sadly not actually British—what a wasted opportunity to feature a gent with an awesome accent!) is coming to visit her. They’ve been exchanging some kinda flirty e-mails, so she is hoping that perhaps their friendship might blossom into something deeper—richer—grander. (Even though, as noted above, he is not, in fact, British. Alas.) To make her home that much more charming for Jeremy’s pending stay, Miranda has hired a friend of Charlotte’s, Interior Decorator Madeline, to spruce up the place. (I will pause here to note that the actress who plays Madeline, Carrie Preston, is married to the charming Michael Emerson/the terrifying Ben Linus in real life. Sleep with one eye open, Ms. Preston, this is my advice to you. Because he seems so nice… UNTIL HE’S TOTALLY EVIL.) Anywhoozle, Jeremy and Madeline meet, fall in love at first sight, and become engaged. A week after they meet. Wowzer.
This whirlwind courtship/engagement/wedding throws all of our four ladies into something of a tizzy. Miranda, naturally, is totally bummed because… wasn’t Jeremy supposed to be her potential love interest? She feels totally invisible, overlooked, ill-fated. She shrugs it off by the end of the episode, however. Good! Charlotte, as per usual, sees the bright side of things (“I think this is encouraging. This means that even if you’re not dating anybody, you could be engaged in a couple of weeks”), and is delighted to be chosen as a bridesmaid in Madeline and Jeremy’s wedding. She has a whirlwind affair with Martin, one of Jeremy’s groomsmen, at the wedding itself (logistically tricky, but she manages to pull it off), but, of course, said whirlwind affair ends, not in an engagement, but rather in Martin’s dumping her. Charlotte is temporarily bummed by said dumping. (Charlotte, to Martin: “Did the last four and a half hours mean nothing to you?!?”) She shrugs it off by the end of the episode, however. Good! Sam, meanwhile, is worried that she might have run out of new gentlemen in New York to dally with, after having a “déjà fuck” (i.e., inadvertently sleeping with a man she’d already slept with, but had since totally forgotten about) with a bloke she met (re-met?) at Madeline and Jeremy’s engagement party. She gets drunk at Madeline and Jeremy’s wedding, and laments the fact that her Well of New Sexual Experiences with New Gentlemen may have run dry. She shrugs it off by the end of the episode, however. Good!
Carrie, meanwhile, is having Big problems. (SHOCKER.) She’s worried that he’ll never be able to make the kind of commitment to her which Jeremy is making to Madeline (after knowing her for approx. an hour… what could possibly go wrong there?) Red flags, once again they abound in The Land of Big. Big is displeased that he and Carrie get invited to Madeline and Jeremy’s wedding as a couple. (Even though… they are a couple.) Big refuses to sign the card which Carrie has gotten to accompany her and Big’s (she assumed) mutual gift to the happy pair. Big TAKES A CELL PHONE CALL as Carrie is reading a poem which she’d written about love at Madeline and Jeremy’s actual nuptials. Yeeeesh. True to form, Carrie obliquely tells Big that she needs more from him than he’s giving her. (Carrie to Big, as he is pressing her to leave the wedding early, because he’s bored: “I want someone who’s going to be with me to the end… of a wedding.” Way to cop out, Bradshaw!) Big once again shiftily gives in on the small point (sure he’ll stay with her till the end… of someone else’s wedding), while avoiding the main issue at hand. Sigh. Anyone else feel like they’re still trapped in Season One?
I love this darned episode. As I have noted before, whenever the show tackles a wedding, it gives me a joy. They just always seem to give the conventional “how weddings are handled in romantic comedies” a festive little twist, and I bless them for that.
People of Color Watch: Even though Madeline and Jeremy’s nuptials are seemingly attended by half of Manhattan, the only person of color in the whole episode is an African-American man who plays a mover who brings Miranda’s new couch into her apartment. Fantastic.
Love At First Sight: Reality, or Torture Device?: So, the central question which Carrie (and all of the women) are grappling with in this episode is—is love at first sight real? (I will go on record myself as saying, yes, I think that it is. Happened to my grandparents, as it, well, happens. My grandfather saw my grandmother at a church choir practice (I KNOW, paging Norman Rockwell), nudged the friend he was with, and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Which he, in fact, did. Awwww. Myself, I’ve only fallen in love at first sight with 1) select vintage purses, 2) the college and university where I got all of my higher learnin’ done—I seriously did, I could even tell you what I was wearing when I saw them first, and 3) Guinness-flavored ice cream. But still—love at first sight involving actual people—I can believe it.)
I think the episode does a nice job of poking and prodding at the idea of love at first sight, without discounting it altogether. Because the subplot with Madeline and Jeremy is actually quite sweet and romantic--those two crazy kids do seem genuinely smitten with, and committed to, each other. (Though I’ll grant you, if a friend of mine told me she was engaged to a bloke she’d met the proceeding Tuesday, I’d probably stage an intervention. Even if it did mean that she would get to move to London.) Of course, in any other romantic comedy, the Madeline/Jeremy story would be the primary A plot, while the “comic misadventures of her single lady friends” would be the secondary B plot. I like that the episode turns this hierarchy on its head—making the center of our attention not Madeline’s fairy-tale-like romance, but the other women’s rather less picture-perfect grapplings with love, commitment, and the notion of romantic destiny.
My Favoritest Moment in the Whole Darned Episode: So at the end of the episode, the four women are standing around chatting when Madeline does her bouquet toss. Said bouquet heads straight for our quartet, naturally—and they watch it hit the ground at their feet with no other emotion save calm detachment. No screaming, no leaping, no diving—not a flicker of the stereotypical “single women becoming hysterical at the prospect of catching the bouquet, and ruthlessly knocking her friends over to do so” moments so beloved by most romantic comedy makers. Despite all of the anxieties which Madeline’s wedding has unleashed, in the end, these four unmarried women are actually quite content with being the unmarried women that they are—they’re clearly just as happy leaving the wedding with one another as Madeline is leaving it with Jeremy. I find that rather touching.
“I Don’t Think We’re in Single Digits Anymore”: Slut-Shaming Sam Watch?: I often feel a little uncomfortable when the question of Samantha’s sexual history comes up, because discussion of her significant number of past partners is often an uneasy blend of affirming that her sexual choices (freely and gleefully made) ought not to be judged or condemned, and an unpleasant tendency to play her “sluttiness” for laughs. When Sam muses to the ladies that she’d totally forgotten about the man she’d previously slept with, they seem to close ranks against her, in a very “you vs. us” kind of way. They are amused by Samantha’s plight (correction—Carrie and Miranda are amused, Charlotte is horrified and disapproving), implicitly drawing a line in the sand with said amusement, of a “We can feel free to find this funny, because this sort of thing would never happen to us, because we are not like you” variety. I dunno. Something about it doesn’t quite sit right with me. This is a very mild case of slut-shaming, I’ll grant you—but like so many mild cases—it seems poised to turn more serious at any minute.
Notable Quotables: Carrie and Big: discussing Madeline and Jeremy’s pending wedding:
Carrie: “These people actually think they’re soulmates.”
Big: “Did they actually use the term ‘soulmates’?”
Carrie: “Yes, several times.”
Big: “Then I give them three months.”Next Up…?: “The Man, The Myth, The Viagra.” Ah, to be in the days when Viagra jokes were still shiny and new! So, in this episode, we shall discuss not only the little blue pills, but also modern day myths and legends about relationships, love, and such like. Should we believe in happily ever after, or not? Gold stars for all those who can guess where Miranda and Charlotte, respectively, come down on that sucker!