Wednesday, September 29

Season Two, Episode Twelve: La Douleur Exquise!

[Blogger's note: I feel compelled to take a moment before we begin to say proudly that my bloody seven years worth of French classes means that I could actually translate this episode title all by myself, sans French-English dictionary. Merci, French teachers who fruitlessly tried to din that lovely language into my unreceptive brain all those years ago! Clearly, all is not lost! I mean, um, all is not perdu!)

The Summary: So, Carrie and Big break up in this episode. Yayyyyy! Unless, of course, you are Carrie, in which case--boooooo. (But I am not Carrie, so--yayyyy!) What causes said break-up, you ask, after Big treating Carrie like rubbish for so very long, and Carrie so very patiently putting up with said rubbishy-ness? Big telling Carrie that he's almost certainly moving to Paris for six months to a year for work, that's what. Carrie, predictably, is furious that he drops this fun fact on her out of the blue, and clearly without pausing for so much as a minute (or rather, pour une minute--see what I did there???) to factor her into this decision.

She temporarily talks herself out of said furiousness and tries (as we know, to our unending exhaustion, is her wont) to make tasty lemonade out of the rancid lemons which Big is handing her. Maybe having a long distance relationship wouldn't be that bad! Maybe visiting Big in Paris could actually be fun! Maybe she could even move to Paris herself, for a bit! It's Big's response to this last proposal ("I don't want you to uproot your life and expect anything"--ah, so warm and loving, sir!) which finally causes to Carrie to flip/snap/do other such dramatic things. ("Why do I keep doing this to myself? I must be a masochist, or something." Ding ding ding, I believe we have a winner!)

She's finally at the end of her (clearly very long) tether, and simply can't deal with Big's "please enjoy lurking on the periphery of my life for the next five to ten years, being fobbed off by my ambiguous allusions to a vaguely defined, far from certain future together" malarkey any longer. And so, she breaks up with him. He half-heartedly tries to get her back, but she holds out, self-protectively resisting the siren song of his "just because I don't consider you an important part of my life doesn't mean I don't love you" hooey. Buh-bye, Big! [All together now: "... again/temporarily."]

Phew. I don't know about you, but I am exhausted. But there are three other ladies to discuss, and so--onwards! Samantha's easy (I swear to goodness, I wasn't going for a cheap pun there, Scouts' honor--it was only after I read this over that I realized I'd gone all double-entendre on you), because she doesn't really have anything going on this episode. Her P.R. firm is handling the opening of an S&M themed restaurant. (May I recommend against ordering their whipped cream?) The other three women are a little squeamish about the sights on display at said eatery, but Sam blithely says that she thinks "it's healthy and fabulous." (Well done, Sam, I'm sure somewhere out there, Pat Califia is proud of you!)

Charlotte finds herself entangled with a foot fetishist (as all ladies do, at one point or other), when she walks into her friendly neighborhood shoe store--the salesman, Buster, offers to give her $500 shoes for free, if she lets him rub her feet. Charlotte does so, but then feels pretty icky about it, and tries to return the shoes. He won't let her. She can't pay for the shoes, and so he offers her a trade--model some shoes for him, and she can consider the "obtained through illicit rubbing" shoes paid for. Model she does, which makes Buster happy. Very, very happy, if you catch where it is that I am drifting. All right, then!

Miranda, meanwhile, is dating Jack, who is played by the delightful Will Arnett. Whom she first meets when they are both prowling for historical biographies at a used book stall, no less. Oh, Miranda, what a fortunate woman thou art! Except, nope, wait, sorry, spoke too soon--transpires that Jack is fixated on having sex in public places where there is a high probability that he'll get caught. Alleyways, taxi cabs, elevators (the logistics of which escape me, but perhaps that's because I've never worked in a building with more than four stories?), restaurant bathrooms, you name it, they've done it. (Charlotte, on hearing about said escapades: "This is supposed to be a relationship, not Outward Bound!") Miranda is a little uncomfortable with this whole "let's go on a field trip!" angle of her relationship with Jack, but rolls with it until Jack engineers a tryst at his home where there is a high probability that they will be caught by his visiting parents--and, in the end, in fact, are. Oh, how I would love to get our friend Dr. Freud's take on that one! Yeeeeeesh.

Oh, and there is actually a Stanford plotline in this episode--had you forgotten that Stanford existed? (If so, you wouldn't be the only one--I suspect that the writers had, as well.) So, it transpires that Stanford has been chatting online with a bloke (under the name "Rick9Plus"--did you hit your head and lose your subtlety somewhere along the line, Mr. Blatch?), who is now eager to meet him in person for a rendezvous. Stanford is scared to do so, since he's not exactly the Men's Health-cover-esque demigod he's marketed himself as being--what if his new friend is repulsed by/rejects him?

Carrie talks him into it, however ("I say, go. Have a naughty little adventure. Be safe, have fun"), and off Stanford goes, to meet his chat buddy at an "underwear-only" club. (Geez, those are just springing up everywhere now, they're what Starbucks was five years ago!) There he meets a beautiful blond man who doesn't seem to be the gent Stanford had initially gone to meet, but who is pleasingly attentive to and interested in Stanford, nonetheless. A story with a happy ending, for once!

The Analysis:

Are We Being Derogatory Towards Folks with Sexual Fetishes or Are We Not? Watch:

Pro: In many ways, the episode does seem to accept Sam's shrugging "people's sexual tastes are varied and diverse, as long as people are taking care of themselves and others, who cares what they do?" attitude. Good, right?

Con: Okay, but you have to admit, we once again have a scenario in which Sam is accepting and affirming of something (BDSM, in this case), which the other three women are amused by (at best) and severely creeped out by (at worst.) And since (as we have already discussed) Sam is represented as the "extreme" character when it comes to sexual matters... isn't this a leetle bit troubling? No? What is it, Pro? Cat got your tongue?

Pro: [cannily changing the subject]: Okay, okay, fine, I'll give you that one, but what about Buster, the shoe salesman who really loves his work? He seems pretty comfortable and happy with his predelictions--he knows what he wants, and goes after it without shame. Not too bad, right?

Con: [triumphantly]: Sure, if you overlook the facts that 1) they cast a not-conventionally-attractive, rather sinister-looking actor in the part, to underline his failure to conform to desirable, normative masculinity/his essential creepiness, in case there was any chance you'd miss it, and 2) they represent his sexual response to all things foot-related as distastefully and ickily as they possibly can, and show our wholesome Charlotte looking appalled and horrified by having to witness his transports. And also, Buster, seriously? Why not just name him "Payless" and have done with it? Methinks that Stanford isn't the only one who's lost his subtlety, here...

Pro: [realizing when it is beaten, and moving on]: But what about Will Arnett? He is dreamy, married to an awesome feminist, and his character has a fetish! So there!

Con: [thinking that this is getting almost too easy, and pitying poor, hapless Pro]: True, but even as Vice-President of the Amy Poehler Fan Club, I can't give you this one. Charming as he is, Arnett, you must concede, almost always plays sexually suspect, slimy jerks. And his character is represented as a loonball who immaturely, selfishly, and downright crazily embroils poor Miranda in increasingly embarrassing, distressing situations. So, folks who step outside of the Land of Vanilla--don't fare too well here, now, do they?

Pro: [Hangs head, wondering why it even bothers to get out of bed in the morning.]

Women in Unrelentingly Bad Relationships Finally Taking Care of Themselves, Thank God Watch: I feel like I have said this before, but I am really glad to see Carrie bloody standing up for herself and giving Big the old heave-ho after him treating her so relentlessly nastily for so long. Throughout Season Two (and throughout Season One, too, for that matter, as we know to our eternal "I need to retire to my fainting couch with a cold compress on my head" frustration/fatigue), Big treats Carrie quite shabbily, indeed. Only grudgingly having an admission of affection dragged out of him virtually at gunpoint. Steadfastly refusing to make any kind of meaningful commitment to Carrie. Persistently dodging her questions about what she means to him/if they have any kind of future together.

More than halfway through the season/well over a year into their relationship, Carrie has finally had enough. [Mutters disconsolately to self: "... for now, anyway."] Once again, it's clearly dreadfully painful for her to break up with him, but she does it, nonetheless, because she realizes that it's her responsibility to take care of herself, rather than fruitlessly subjecting herself to yet more torture at the hands of a man incapable of caring for or about her the way she needs to be cared for and about. Nicely done, Carrie. Just watch your step in Season Three, couldya?

Notable Quotables: Carrie, as Big leaves her after she has kicked his sorry tuckus to the curb (all together now: "... again/temporarily."): "Did I ever really love Big, or was I addicted to the pain? The exquisite pain of wanting someone so unobtainable?" I am going to say, yes, and also, for good measure... yes!

Next Up...?:
I am so darned happy that Carrie and Big are broken up (all together now: "...again/temporarily"), I can't even tell you. Carrie, of course, is radically unhappy, and decides to express said unhappiness by throwing herself into a fling with Jon Bon Jovi. Of course, I believe this is a common cure for a broken heart in many cultures. Or if it isn't... heck, it should be!

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