Wednesday, November 24

Season Three, Episode Eleven: Running with Scissors

The Summary:

Okay, mes amies, are you prepared for us to continue to go deeper into the dark, dark nightmare which is the Carrie-Big Affair? Do you have a drink handy? (Perhaps since it is quite early in the morning, I ought not to encourage you to drink, but... desperate times call for desperate measures, here, people!)

All right, so, let us begin. Despite her vows to the contrary at the end of our last episode, Carrie has not ended her affair with Big, but rather... continued it. And said affair has become less "we are living out The Bridges of Madison County/The Prince of Tides/Other Romance-y Type Novel Centered on Adultery!" and more "we are meeting at hotels with mysterious stains on the walls at 2 p.m., ick, I've never seen a bug like that before, oh my goodness, why are we here???"

Carrie's relationship with Aidan is getting increasingly strained, so tense and unhappy is she, what with all of the guilt, angst, and anxiety that she is carrying around. Her affair with Big is also getting increasingly strained, with neither of them seeming to know quite what they want, what they're doing, or how to stop the Freight Train to Disasters-ville which they are currently on. Do they want to leave their current partners, and give being a real couple a shot again? They don't know. One minute, they think yes, the next minute--no. Ambiguity, uncertainty, confusion--they reign supreme.

Carrie tells Miranda about the affair, to try to get her to slap her upside the head and bring her violently back to reality and common sense. (YES, good call, Bradshaw.) Miranda tries (bless her heart) but her efforts are in vain. Charlotte bumps into Carrie and Big outside of a seedy hotel, and tearfully reproaches Carrie for her "sleeping-with-a-married-man" behavior--but her sorrowful denunciations also do no good. It isn't until Carrie gets caught by Natasha in her and Big's marital home, and Natasha ends up tripping, falling, and smashing out some teeth, that Carrie finally gets it--she, and the affair, have officially come to the end of the road. She finally breaks it off with Big, after he comes to the hospital to be with his now tooth-deficient bride. (Carrie, to Big: "We are so over. We need a new word for over.") And... she walks away from him. YES. Peace in our time! [Ominously, under breath: "For now, anyway."] Feel better soon, Natasha! And Big... may I once again invite you to go boil your head?

All right--onward! What about the other womenfolk, who are not blighting their lives or the lives of others with their extramarital shenanigans? Let us see!

In addition to freaking out about Carrie's painful involvement in the Marriages of Others, Charlotte is freaking about her own pending marriage--or rather, her own pending wedding. She can't pick a dress! She can't pick accessories! The horror! Seeking to prevent her from having a mental breakdown over such Bridal Angst, Samantha tells Charlotte to hire a stylist--which she promptly does, one Anthony Marantino by name. Anthony takes Charlotte to Vera Wang (!) to help her pick out her dress. With the help of Anthony's sage guidance (and his relentless bullying of the salesgirl), Charlotte is, indeed, able to find her dream wedding dress. Said dress is very pretty. But though I like pretty dresses as much as the next dress-fancying lass, personally, if I had that kind of cash, I'd have bought a gorgeous vintage wedding dress for cheap online, and used the excess to gad about Europe, instead. But... Charlotte York's wedding, Charlotte York's rules!

Sam is also freaking out (what an episode of stress this is turning out to be!), in large part because of having met Tom, who is, as Carrie puts it, "a New York legend--steadfastly single, and sexually very active... in short, the male Samantha." (Nice that she's not the female Tom, I guess!) Sam would very much like to sleep with Tom, and the feeling is mutual. So the freaking out comes from... where? From the fact that Tom won't sleep with Sam unless she's had an H.I.V. test... which she's never had, and is terrified to have, for fear that it will bring her bad. News. Her friends reassure her--they've had H.I.V. tests, they're fine. Sam will have her H.I.V. test, and she'll be fine. And she does, and she is--but not before fainting at the clinic, waiting for the results. Ouch! That floor looked pretty hard!

Miranda isn't freaking out in this episode, so much as she is flirting with a sandwich. Allow me to explain. Every time Miranda walks down this one block, the Subway employee paid to stand outside of his franchise wearing a sandwich costume tells her to "eat me." (As Miranda puts it: "He didn't say it in the sandwich way, he said it in the sexual harassing way." Indeed he did--that is one dirty-minded sandwich.) Initially angry and indignant about being harassed in this way (which... yeah, I'm with you so far), Miranda quickly becomes intrigued and even turned-on by this Mysterious Sandwich Stranger (and now... you've officially lost me.) Oh, how the ladies love to be solicited by creepy strangers on the street! How it does ensnare their senses and bewitch their brains! [Buries head in arms.]

One day, Miranda asks the MSS to remove his mask, so that she might see the man behind the sandwich. He does so, and it is revealed that he is a handsome young man. (Of course he is.) Miranda decides, however, that their love cannot be, because "she was a lawyer, and he was a sandwich." Of course she does. Because rejecting a guy because he works at Subway makes MUCH more sense than rejecting him because he sexually harasses random women on the street. Sheeeeeeesh.

The Analysis:

Let Us Now Play Everyone's Favorite Party Game... Slut-Shaming! Watch
: This isn't as bad as it could have been, I'll grant you--if this was a gloves-off, no-holds-barred, down-and-dirty slut-shaming event, Sam's H.I.V. test would have come back positive, and the writers would have stricken her with illness for her harlot-y, whorish ways. Happily, the writers are not so draconian... Sam gets to both live, and flourish, despite having taken a few twirls around the block.

HOWEVER. There is nonetheless some mild slut-shaming--or at least, some mockery of Sam's sexual behavior in the episode... when Sam sits down with a nurse to discuss her sexual history, the writers make a lot of hay out of how sluttttty Sam is. The nurse asks Sam how many sexual partners she's had, and Sam takes a looooong time to think about it, asking the nurse, after a good couple of minutes of silent tabulation, "ummmm, this year?" The writers definitely play her "I can't even remember how many gents I've slept with!" moment for laughs here which... is mild, I'll grant you, but added to all of the other "Sam, you are such a tramp! And your trampiness amuses me!" moments in the series--it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And while we're on the subject of Sam and the nurse--when the nurse asks her about her sexual practices, Sam burbles along quite happily until the nurse asks her about anal sex, at which point Sam drops her eyes and issues a muted admission that yes, she does engage in that particular practice. Not the first time the writers have suggested that there is something particularly shameful about the ladies enjoying anal sex, though I do wish it was the last!

"I Can't Have Sex with a Sandwich... Can I?": Ladies Who Lovvvvve Being Sexually Harassed--With Some Distasteful Class Politics Thrown in For Good Measure--Watch: Most annoying, however, is the Miranda storyline, for two primary reasons. Would you like to know what I think that they are? I hope so, for I am about to tell you, regardless.

1) Said storyline implies that sometimes, sexual harassment can be, well, sexy. And... it isn't, and it can't. There's a crucial distinction to be drawn here, I think, between enjoying male attention (which, if respectfully and not creepily or intrusively done, I reckon many a straight lass does) and enjoying men randomly asking you to give them blow jobs while you're walking down the street (which I'm going to go out on a limb and say nary a lass does.) The writers don't make that distinction, which I feel... is a little bit of a problem! Man who catches your eye and smiles at you while you pass him on the street... fine. Man who grabs, exposes, or in any other way highlights his gentlemanly area, whistles, shouts out X-rated suggestions, or honks his car horn at you... not fine.

Such behavior does not make me feel flattered, it does not make me feel desirable, it does not make me feel sexy--it makes me feel creeped out, self-conscious, and concerned for my personal safety. And if a man routinely solicited me on the street, I wouldn't start spinning romantic daydreams around him, I would report him to the cops and/or start walking down a different street. And in a world in which women do get harassed on a pretty routine basis when they dare to venture out into the public sphere (do they not know this is the proper domain of men???), I find it distinctly distasteful that the writers suggest that Miranda finds this harassment all a sexy adventure. [Blogger hits the buzzer--because I've just decided I should have a buzzer, why not?--to express that the writers have run afoul of her house rules.] Repeat after me, writers--being harassed--not. Sexy. For. The. Women. Folk.

2) Eager as I am for Miranda to walk away from Captain-Creepy-Sandwich-Pants here, and glad as I am that the writers don't end the episode with her having a fling with him (praise the divine powers of the universe for that one)--the reason she turns him down, in the end, I find to be quite lame. Because she turns him down not because he sexually harassed her, but because she's a lawyer, and he works at Subway. Ummmmm, Miranda, sweetheart? Didn't we have this conversation when you were dating Steve? Didn't you actually slap your friend Charlotte's wrist a little, for telling you that you shouldn't date Steve because he was "working class"? Didn't we learn from that that the barometer of whether or not to date someone is, you know, whether or not you actually like them, and whether or not they are the kind of person who will or will not harass women on the street, and not whether or not they are an investment banker, or similar? I... had thought so. But it seems not! My mistake!

Next Up...?: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in which we analyze and deconstruct the absolute rubbish policy which our government and military are foolishly persisting in upholding, despite the fact that it is not only patently discriminatory, but makes no bloody sense to boot... oh, no, wait, I'm sorry, the episode is actually all about Charlotte's wedding! (Yay, I love SATC weddings! Except, it may shock you to learn... this one's gonna be a little rough.) And the episode is also about Carrie feeling that she needs to tell Aidan about her affair with Big. (Um, yay, for watching people cry and hearts be broken...?)

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