Friday, November 5

Season Three, Episode Seven: Drama Queens

The Summary:

DRAMA! Things which are dramatic! Exclamation points to underline the DRAMA of even mentioning the dramatic!

So, Carrie is dating Aidan, and is very happy with him. Can we be happy for her, in said happiness? Oh, my dear readers. Of course we can't. Because Carrie's untroubled happiness in being with Aidan is actually freaking her out--she's used to being in relationships which are plagued by (all together now) DRAMA. Aidan is not dramatic. He says what he thinks. He shows up when he says he'll show up. He does what he says he'll do. He candidly tells Carrie how much he likes her, and how happy he is with her. Carrie... can't handle it. When Aidan invites her to meet his parents, she has a mini-meltdown, and gives him a long speech about how she can't, and about how "maybe we should see each other less, so we can miss each other more." [Lies down to take a nap.]

Carrie is shocked out of these neuroses by the end of the episode, happily. (Thank you, Divine Powers of the Universe.) She sees Big and Natasha at the opera, catches Big's eye, and has a major meltdown. She runs out of the aforementioned opera, rather than have to deal with being in his and his youthful spouse's vicinity. Big rushes after her, but she does not see him, and consequently manages to escape from the opera Big-less. DRAMA. (On the episode's part.) RELIEF. (On your humble blogger's part. Oh, and since I've already interjected myself here, may I further note that it would take a whole heck of a lot more than sitting across from my distasteful ex and his new lady to get me to leave a fancy-pants opera? Have you seen the kinds of costumes on display at those suckers??? Golly.)

Being reminded of Big and his commitment-phobic, game-playing wretchedness, Carrie realizes that she actually "wants to be with a guy who wants to be with me." YES. PROGRESS. So she decides to enjoy, rather than fret about, the fact that Aidan is uncomplicatedly interested in being part of her life, and decides to go and meet Aidan's parents, after all. Excellent.

And what of the other ladies? Sam's plot line is rather numbing in its dullness. Sam is dating a doctor. He takes Viagra recreationally. (Now that sounds safe.) She asks him if she can pop a few pills, herself. Being the ethical gent that he is, he says yes. She rapidly becomes addicted to the stuff, and rather than deal with her blue-pill-addicted self, the doc dumps her. Buh-bye, Ethically-Challenged Medical Professional!

Charlotte, meanwhile, like Carrie, is enmeshed in some (largely self-generated) DRAMA herself. As part of her quest to find herself a hubby, she is reading a book (Marriage, Inc.: How to Apply Successful Business Strategies to Finding a Husband), which recommends eschewing your single lady friends, and buddying up to your married friends' spouses, in the hopes of meeting their charming, single, gentleman friends. [Pauses.] Now, I can't see that "get close to your married friends' husbands thing" going wrong in any way, now, can you, gentle reader?

Ah, but of course it does. Rather than set Charlotte up with a single friend of his, Husband-Of-Her-Friend-Amy Dennis himself declares his love for Charlotte. Crud. Fleeing from this declaration of adulterous affection, Charlotte is nearly run over by a cab--the passenger of which, one Dr. Trey McDougal by name, is smitten with Charlotte at first sight. Ah, the meet-cute. In other romantic comedies: a sign of pending everlasting love. In SATC: a sign of pending inevitable disaster. Buh-bye, Dennis! Hello, Trey! And--Trouble!

And what is Miranda up to, you ask? Nothing with too much DRAMA about it, I'm afraid. Miranda veers back and forth between loving that her relationship with Steve feels so "comfortable" and "safe," and fretting that the very comfort and safety of said relationship means that all romance and excitement in the relationship is long-since dead--departed--fled. In the end, Steve makes a romantic/unexpected gesture, which restores her faith that comfort/security and the unexpected/romantic can, indeed, happily co-exist. (I am using "romantic/unexpected" here to mean that Steve decides to mix up their sexual routine by initiating an Intimate Moment in the banal space of her laundry room... which might be stretching the "romantic" thing a bit... but was at least quite unexpected!)

The Analysis:

"It's My New Full Time Job": How to Get Thyself Hitched Self-Help Books Watch
: I actually had to look up the book which Charlotte is reading in this episode, Marriage, Inc., just to double-check that it wasn't real. Turns out, it's not--but that's not to say that books like it (and much, much worse) don't exist out there in that free marketplace of ours for the female reading public, because, surely, they do.

In this episode, as in the whole "Charlottte Seeks Marriage" story arc this season, the writers have a rather fine line to walk--between respecting Charlotte's genuine desire to be married and have a family, while simultaneously questioning some of the, well, questionable methods which she employs in the service of that goal. I think they do quite a decent job of it in this episode, actually (yay, I have something nice to say, for once!)--mocking, not Charlotte's hopes, but rather the quite unpleasant advice which her ostensibly helpful book is giving her--i.e., ditch your single friends, and cultivate your married friends purely because they have spouses whom you can use as a resource for seeking your Prince Charming.

Considering that this is a series which will later spawn a relationship self-help book which also has some quite unpleasant advice for the ladies, the writers actually do a nice job here of skewering relationship advice books which offer (loopy at best, and destructive at worst) advice to women navigating the Tricky Waters of Love and the Heart. Give yourself a gold star, writers. (Or... maybe a silver one. I am still ticked about the whole bisexuality mess which you dumped in our laps a few episodes ago.)

"I Want My Pills, Dammit!": Ladies and Magic Pills Watch: So in the Samantha plot line, the writers make it clear that taking Viagra makes the (already quite sexually, shall we say, aware) Sam that much more--indeed, even rather quite loopily--sexually desirous and responsive. A few things about that whole schmegegge:

1) That's rubbish. From what my lazy Internet search/dim cultural memory tells me, researchers are very far from being in agreement about what Viagra does or does not do for the womenfolk, with a goodly number of them concluding that it doesn't actually do that much--and that there isn't a "magic bullet" pill which has this kind of miraculous effect on the ladies.

2) Also--a little troubling here, perhaps, that the sexual eagerness which these Happy Pills unleash in Samantha is regarded with such alarm and consternation by her doctor friend? He seems positively terrified by the intensity which the pills inspire in her, and said terror is part of what inspires him to dump her. Remind me again why a woman intensely, eagerly pursuing her own sexual pleasure is such a scary thing? Ohhhh, riiiiight.

3) And finally--I feel like there's something to be said here about the whole "medicalization of female desire" thing, and how creepy it is. Huh. But what is there to say, exactly, I ask myself? Ummmm... that it is creepy to me that any time that we talk about women and Magical Sexual Pills, we start to talk about female sexual "dysfunction" in ways which pathologize women whose sexual responses are not "normal" (whatever "normal" means to us here)? Yes. Indeed. That is creepy. Not sure that it is directly related to Sam's popping of Viagra here, but if I can't go off on random tangents on my very own blog, then, I ask you, where can I?

"My Favorite Thing to Do on a Saturday Night is Steve's Laundry, and I've Never Been Happier": The Ladies, Oh How They Do Love Domestic Labor! Watch: Perhaps it is because I myself find doing laundry so totally annoying (my lovely domicile has many charms, but a washer and dryer on premises is not among them--curses!) that I also find part of the Miranda-Steve plot line here so annoying. So Miranda tells her friends, as you see from the quote above, that she just loves doing Steve's laundry every Saturday night. It makes her so darned happy. PLEASE.

Even after she stops adoring doing his laundry (for scatological reasons which, since they have nothing to do with feminist analysis, I have excused myself from discussing--they are icky, that is all you need to know), she... still does it. Remind me why, again? Ohhhh, riiiight. Disappointing to have this lazy, "of course, ladies do distasteful domestic work for their menfolk which their menfolk are in no way expected to reciprocate, this is only natural" moment introduced into what is usually a pretty egalitarian presentation of Miranda and Steve's domestic life. I mean, for the love of Pete, Steve's version of giving Miranda "a hand with the wash" is initiating intimacies in the laundry room. This in no ways helps clothing get either clean or dry, sir.

Next Up...?: "The Big Time." Any guesses what that sucker is about? Big Ben, you inquire hopefully? Big Bird, you ask wistfully? Bob's Big Boy, you query optimistically? I am afraid that it is none of these things, mes amies--the Big of the title is, in fact, the Chris Noth-y Big whom you are thinking that it is. Le sigh. There is no escape for us, my fellow travelers. NONE. Back to Big Land, it is, then! See you there next week! Bring booze! (Trust me... you're going to need it.)


  1. I just read your whole blog, and I really enjoyed it. I too am a feminist fan of Sex and the City. While the series is not always perfect, I think it makes some lovely points at times. And I really appreciate that the four women clearly love and support one another, as opposed to fighting and talking behind each other's backs all the time like the women in other shows.

  2. Thanks so much for reading (and for reading all of my blog, no less, that is enough to warm any blogger's heart!) I suspect that a lot of SATC fans are feminists--which of course makes for some very empowering and subversive, as well as some really headache-making and annoying, moments for these viewers.

    It's definitely one of my favorite things in the series, as well--that these four women are consistently loving, supportive, and affirming of one another. As you point out, that's all too rare in our pop culture, so it's really refreshing to see...

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