Friday, October 1

Season Two, Episode Thirteen: Games People Play

I am so darned happy that I do not have to start this summary off with a “Big does something wretched/Carrie forgives him for it” type sentence, I cannot tell you. Because Big is (okay, yes, I know, I know, only temporarily--way to harsh my buzz, people) out of the picture. Wahooooo!

Except, of course, that he’s not really out of the picture, because Carrie remains obsessed with him/their break-up, and is ranting to her friends about him/it non-stop. Her friends are concerned about said obsessiveness, and beg her to go see a therapist. Carrie reluctantly agrees, and starts seeing “Dr. G,” a fancy-pants shrink, notably played by an actress who also played an embittered housewife in Season One. (Psychologist by day, housewife by night? Vice versa?) Dr. G tells Carrie that she seems to have a destructive tendency which causes her to pick men who are elusive, unavailable, and generally nasty to her. Thank you, Dr. G, for being clever enough to charge people massive fees for stating the obvious!

And speaking of destructive tendencies and elusive men… in the waiting room at Dr. G’s, Carrie meets/flirts with/rapidly begins dating Seth, Handsome Charmer/Fellow Patient (who is played by Jon Bon Bloody Jovi, no less. EXCELLENT.) Now, if you've read this blog before, you'll know that I have been rather hard on Carrie in the past for willfully dating men who were quite clearly creeps on track to treat her poorly. (See Big, Mr.) Prepare to watch me engage in some truly spectacular hypocrisy, therefore, because although Seth is quite obviously Bad News from word one, I cannot find it in my icy feminist heart to condemn her for throwing herself into that particular toxic whirlpool.

Because, if you've read this blog before, you will also be aware that I am a fiercely proud Jersey Girl (born, raised, educated, and now, employed), and when JON BON BLOODY JOVI asks you to engage in a racy game of Twister with him (which he does at one point during their courtship—smooth devil, that Jonny B.)... then by golly, play a racy game of Twister with him you do, even if he is clearly a sociopath poised to discard you, much as though you were a water bottle poised over a recycling bin. BECAUSE IT'S JON BON BLOODY JOVI, FOR PETE'S SAKE. Such opportunities... they do not arise every day. Drink that poisoned Kool Aid to the last drop, I say. Goodness knows I would.

Anywhoozle, to continue. Carrie and Seth start dating, sleep together—at which point he tells her that he’s in therapy because he loses interest in women as soon as he sleeps with them. Ahhhhhh, so I guess that would mean… buh-bye, Seth! Buh-bye, Jon Bon Jovi! [Sniffle.] Sorry, Carrie!

And the other ladies? Charlotte doesn’t really have anything going on this episode, except for a discussion in which she affirms that the ladies need to play head games with their menfolk, even after they are in relationships. (And presumably, even after they are married...? Even from beyond the grave...?) Of course they do. Be straightforward and candid, you say? Say what you think, speak your mind, be direct about what you do and don't want from the man in your life? Let him see the real you, flaws, imperfections, and all? Pah. PAH, I say! I scoff at such a ridiculous notion! The ladies need to be MYSTERIOUS--by which I mean, of course, to never actually allow their menfolk to know anything about their true needs, desires, or characters.

Not much going on with Miranda either, unless you count yet more bottomless humiliation which the writers feel compelled to hurl her into. (Oh, Cynthia Nixon, I am so glad that you got to play Eleanor Roosevelt later in your career--that lady of fierce and uncompromising dignity--given what the SATC scribes put you through here.) So, Miranda notices one night that a handsome gent in the apartment across the street from her appears to be gazing at her in admiration. Is she creeped out by this? Um, no, of course not. Ladies--find being watched by unknown gentlemen, while in the privacy of their own homes, without their consent, totally. Hot. She and said gent start playing a game of peekaboo, in which they coyly reveal increasing amounts of flesh to one another from their respective homes. I can't see this going wrong in any way, now, can you?

Except, of course... that it does, in quite spectacular fashion. She sees her Mystery Gent in the grocery store (can I pause here to note how much I love NYC grocery stores, before we continue? So many charming things, so cleverly crammed into such very small spaces! The people who organize them--geniuses), and decides to introduce herself. Turns out, the gent was interested, not in Miranda, but in the gent who lived in the apartment below her. Oh. Dear.

Sam's plotline isn't that interesting, either, come to think of it. Hmmm. Kind of makes you long for the days when Charlotte was infuriating me by pointlessly dumping beautiful pastry chefs, or Miranda was driving me bats by forcing nice ladies to be her reverse-beards, now, doesn't it? But--no, I take it back, I take it back! Nice to have a bit of peace for a change--a vacation from "Everyone Is Offending Me, Please Make It Stop" Land.

All right, so, Sam meets a guy in a sports bar. She starts dating him. Turns out, he is only interested in having sex when the various sports teams whom he favors are doing well. (Good thing he doesn't root for Jersey teams--oh yes, I, the Eternally Loyal Jersey Girl though I am, did in fact just say that. Facts are facts, people.) Can you guess how long Sam is going to be willing to put up with these long, sporting-related periods of abstinence? If you answered "no longer than this episode, that's for darned for sure," then give yourself a star, gentle reader. Buh-bye, Random Sports Bar Bloke!

The Analysis:

LGBT Folks Watch: I will kind of count the bloke whom Miranda thinks she is flirting with for our tally--he is central to the action of the episode, he does have a speaking part... and is not represented terribly negatively, so that's something, I guess! [Thinks to self that it is sad when such things count as "something."] And maybe it's also something that they made him interested in men, rather than women--throwing any queer people into the mix, even if it is only for a scene or two, is something since, you know, LGBT folks do in fact exist, and all, and SATC all too often whites them out of the picture altogether. Unless they made this bloke interested in other guys just to underline Miranda's humiliation? "Not only is he not interested in you, he doesn't like ladies at all." Hmmmm. [Notes to self that self has entirely ignored the possibility that the bloke in question might be bisexual, rather than gay--but as we shall see anon, dismissing bisexuality entirely--I am not the only one guilty of it.]

The Ladies, Oh How They Love to Be Stalked Watch: I suppose the thing that annoys me the most about this episode which, yes, I will concede is pretty darned light on annoyance (amazing!) is the fact that Miranda pretty much instantly embraces being spied on (as she thinks) by her neighbor as flattering/a charming opportunity for risque flirtation. I do not think I am alone among women when I say that if I saw a bloke (no matter what he looked like) staring intently into my window in a salacious way, I would close my blinds/feel uncomfortable and violated, rather than charmed and delighted. Stalking... something of a serious issue for the womenfolk, and I'm not entirely thrilled with the episode making light of it so quickly. I have not warmed up to the trivialization of potentially very scary invasions of women's private space and bodily integrity since earlier in the season, it seems. Dull feminist killjoy, me.

"Games Are Empowering": Manipulation as a Feminist Act Akin to Attending a Take Back the Night Rally? Watch: I also find myself annoyed by Charlotte's whole "one needs to learn how to play the game 'Battle of the Sexes' and win, dammit, win!" argument. It's not an idea which any of the other ladies in any way contest or challenge--they, too, seem to accept the fact that yes, if you are a woman romantically involved with a man, than you are going to have play games of manipulation, obfuscation, and, um, other things which end in "-tion" to hang onto your fella. I find this idea rather distasteful. The whole "being straightforward and not throwing a veil of delicate feminine mystery over all that you think and feel is a perilously unfeminine route, and a route to Dumpsville, to boot"--I like it not. (Good lucking trying to make me into a subscriber, Cosmo.)

Thankfully, though, as the show progresses, it increasingly moves away from this idea, depicting such artificiality and game-playing as self-defeating and counterproductive, and favorably representing these four women's involvement with, you know, actual adult men who value being in relationships with women who are not relentless, coy game players. Goody!

Deep-Seated Neuroses Dislodged by Three Therapy Sessions? Watch: So Carrie decides to stop seeing Dr. G at the end of the episode, even though (as she declares) she valued Dr. G's insights, because she was too embarrassed at the prospect of running into Creepy (but also Dreamy... yes, I am going to keep noting that--this is Jon Bon Bloody Jovi we are talking about here) Seth in the waiting room. Perhaps one could seek out another therapist, if one felt that therapy was actually beneficial to one...? Or... perhaps not. And Carrie decides not. Which is fine in and of itself, but I'd rather see her stop going to therapy because she felt like she had moved beyond actually needing or wanting it, not because she felt awkward about bumping into her erstwhile flame at the office.

Notable Quotables: Samantha, on why Carrie needs to see a therapist about her issues with men, rather than just talking to her girlfriends: “We’re as fucked up as you, it’s like the blind leading the blind!”

Next Up…?: “The Fuck Buddy” (an episode which, I feel compelled to note, when they air it on TBS, they feel compelled to call “The Sex Buddy.” Because clearly that throws a significantly mystifying, delicate veil over the salacious content of the episode! Or… perhaps it doesn’t.) Please also be forewarned that Carrie’s, ahem, “sex buddy” is Liz Lemon’s ex-boyfriend, The Beeper King. Perhaps he got someone else to mind the store when Carrie came a’callin’?

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