Monday, February 14

Season Four, Episode Nine: Sex and the Country

The Summary:

I feel like I have been starting every episode summary in recent weeks with "Carrie and Aidan are pretty happy together in this episode! EXCEPT..." Sorry to sound like a broken record here, mes amies, but... Carrie and Aidan are pretty happy together in this episode! EXCEPT... there is some trouble over how their leisure time ought to spent. Aidan has a rustic country cottage out in the wilds of Suffern, New York, and he lovvvves it. Carrie (a self-described "bonafide city girl") goes there with him one weekend, and she hatttttes it.

Her dilemma then becomes, of course, does she tell him that she hates it, and refuse to spend her weekends there? Or does she paste a fake smile on her face and allow herself to be dragged to the country on a regular basis, because Aidan is her fella, and a lady ought to defer to her fella's preferences? I leave it to you to guess which option Mistress Charlotte MacDougal advocates. (Hint: Do what your man wants at all times, ladies, or you shall lose him--and serve you right, you willful minxes!)

All of this makes Carrie muse about when, in relationships, "the art of compromise becomes compromising." She follows the Charlotte M. Model of Relationship Behavior for awhile, pretending to Aidan that she loves spending lots of time in the country--but eventually she snaps, and tells him the truth. So in the end, they compromise--sometimes, they'll spend their weekends in the country (as Aidan prefers) and sometimes, they won't (as Carrie prefers.) This... only seems reasonable!

Oh, and since it actually will have some significance for our next episode, I must also tell you that, at some point along the line, Carrie has dinner with Big, who is apparently now dating a fancy-pants movie star. He wants to tell Carrie alllll the salacious details about their trysts. (Why...?) Carrie, unsurprisingly, does not want to hear all the salacious details about their trysts! She consequently leaves their dinner feeling distinctly irritated both by Big's movie-star-dating, and by his salacious-detail-recounting. Ah, clearly remaining friends with Big was a great. Idea.

Meanwhile, in the lives of the other ladies... Sam's plotline in this episode is totally dull. Carrie drags her to Aidan's house one weekend, where Sam beds one of Aidan's attractive neighbors. I am SHOCKED. Oh, I'm sorry, I meant BORED, I am BORED.

Miranda, fresh from losing her mom in our last episode, has yet more Difficult Things to face in this episode... Steve has just discovered that he has testicular cancer. (Heap those coals of fire on poor Miranda's head, writers! And Steve's, too, for that matter. Well, not his head, exactly, I suppose...) Listening to Steve talk about how his diagnosis is "no big deal" and describing his doctor in ways which make it clear that he is something less than competent, Miranda snaps and yells at him to take this seriously, to realize that he might die, and to get himself to a good doctor, stat. (Nice that we live in Fantasy New York/United States in the SATC verse, in which self-employed bar-owner Steve seems to have excellent health insurance, which will enable him to switch doctors and go see a top-notch cancer specialist, at will. Ah, Fantasy World. How I wish that I lived there, too!)

Miranda worries that she's been waaaay too bitchy and harsh with Steve (since she makes him cry a little, after yelling at him that he could diiiiie)--but Steve later thanks her for giving him a swift slap upside the head, and encouraging him to seek out a proper doctor and proper treatment. And so, we leave the episode with Steve seemingly on the road to recovery. Phew! Let's go easy on the deaths and the traumas, shall we, writers?

Charlotte, meanwhile, is busy (as Carrie's voiceover informs us) "ovulating and decorating." Having gotten her and Trey's apartment into suitably dazzling shape, Charlotte has thrown herself headfirst into researching the heck out of how best to conceive, what kinds of fertility-enhancing techniques a lady seeking to become enceinte can use, etc.

She keeps a meticulous calendar documenting her menstrual cycle, buys herself a handy-dandy gizmo which beeps to tell her when she's ovulating... she is prepared. Unfortunately for her, her nifty-beeping-ovulation-gizmo is due to next, well, beep when she and Trey are visiting his mother, Bunny, at her country estate. (Charlotte: "I guess we'll just have to have sex at your mother's." Trey: "Sex in Connecticut? Well... there's a first time for everything.")

Charlotte is a bit put off of marital friskiness/potential baby-making activities, however, when she happens across Bunny and Trey having a long chat... in the bathroom... while Trey is taking a bath. Again, I say, cree. Py.

Charlotte later notes to Trey that "that is not proper parent-child bath time behavior past the age of five! Even four, in some cases!" She tells him she has noooo interest in becoming a creepy-pants, quasi-incestuous mother of the Bunny variety. Trey reassures her that he knows she'd never follow Bunny's Model of Motherhood, since he was actually raised, not by his mother (whom he barely ever saw), but rather by a nanny. Charlotte is reassured by this answer. I am not, because this still does not seem to resolve the whole "mother watching grown son bathe" issue... but... as long as you're happy, Mrs. MacDougal The Younger!

The Analysis:

"A Squirrel is Just a Rat with a Cuter Outfit!": Squirrel-Themed Subplot Watch: This has nothing to do with feminist analysis whatsoever, but one of the things that Carrie detests about Aidan's country house is that he's tamed a local squirrel to the point where said squirrel feels comfortable coming and going from said house at will. (Rabies, Mr. Shaw--rabies.) Talk of squirrels and the sight of squirrels recurs throughout this episode, which always makes me think about one of my dear friends, who is the proud creator of what she calls the "Squirrel Spotting Game" where the goal is to (you guessed it) spot as many squirrels as possible. She always beats me when we play said game, by the way. Too bad that we can't visit the fictional Aidan's fictional house, because then I might have a fighting chance!

Ladies, Please Oblige Your Men, Part 9,657 Watch:
Can you tell that I don't actually have that much to say about this episode? Because... I really don't! I enjoy it, but I don't find it particularly noteworthy, when it comes to either Feminist Griping or Feminist Praising. Sam sleeping with a random, generically hot guy whom we never see again... dull. Charlotte continuing her efforts to become pregnant... not presented in a way which offends or troubles me. Miranda trying to help Steve through testicular cancer... makes me sad for him, and glad that she is such a good (if also sometimes scary and yelling) friend.

The only feminist-y thing I have to say about this episode is about Charlotte's whole "Of course you should pretend to like whatever Aidan likes, regardless of your actual feelings!" malarkey. I am happy to report that this episode does, indeed, present such advice as malarkey. (Well done, episode!) Carrie seeks to follow Charlotte's counsel, at first, but quickly realizes that actually being honest and negotiating with Aidan works out much better. Honest communication working out better than inherently unsustainable deceit? You shock me.

After Carrie and Aidan talk candidly about their feelings re: the country retreat, they negotiate a compromise in which they will divide their time between the city and the country in a much more egalitarian manner. Yay! I love egalitarian manners!

Next Up...?: "Belles of Balls" (will the writers' Pun Terror never end???), in which Carrie asks the immortal question "Are men just women with balls?" I'll make it easy for you, Bradshaw--no, they're not. There, I could have spared you the whole episode right there! Except... I'm glad that I didn't, because it's nice to see our young Ms. Bradshaw questioning the reality of a biological, absolute, and unchanging divide between the sexes... this feels like progress, anyway!

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