Wednesday, February 16

Season Four, Episode Ten: Belles of Balls

The Summary:

Ah, testicle-themed puns! Let us wince at them!

So in this episode, Carrie is wondering whether "men are just women with balls." (Remind me how much she gets paid for writing her column, again?) That is to say, she's wondering if popular culture is mistaken, when it alleges that women and men are radically different beings, who have radically different perspectives on things, and lead radically different emotional lives. Young Miss Carrie Bradshaw questioning the notion of innate, unchanging, and absolute gender difference? [Blogger pauses to mistily wipe away a tear.] Our little girl is growing up, my friends. Golly. It just happens so darned fast. It feels like it was only yesterday when she was spewing some rubbish about how men were a different species from women, altogether. Ah, memories!

As she muses over this issue, Carrie also faces something of a personal crisis. It turns out that Big's new movie star girlfriend has unceremoniously dumped him (good. call. lady.), and he is completely heartbroken. He desperately needs to talk to Carrie about his break-up/to cry on her shoulder about said break-up, since... she's really his only friend. (Sad. Or it would be, if this wasn't Big whom we were talking about. As it is... no mercy, my friends! No. Mercy.) He consequently asks if he can come up to see her... at Aidan's country house. As in Aidan, whom he cuckolded... with Carrie. Keep it classy, Big! Keep being quite mind-numbingly stupid when it comes to Big, Carrie!

Because Carrie tells Big that he can, indeed, come up to see her (head, desk, surely you know what to do by now?). Aidan, unsurprisingly, is ticked. Already intensely disliking Big's persistent presence in Carrie's life, he dislikes yet more strongly the idea of having Big be a guest in his home. This... only seems reasonable!

A guest Big nonetheless is, however--he gets totally blotto whilst at Aidan's abode, and ends up having to stay overnight. (Greeeeeat. Just the relaxing weekend Aidan had in mind, I'm sure!) Carrie insists to Big that he make friends (???) with Aidan--said friendship attempt, naturally, resulting in Big and Aidan fighting in the mud. (As the dear robots of the late, lamented MST3K used to say: "A little something for the ladies.")

Carrie tells them to stop acting ridiculous (Carrie, yelling at Aidan and Big as they fight: "Stop it! You're middle-aged!"), and... stop they do. And they even manage to have a pleasant chat, post-fight. (Not sure I'd want to have any kind of chat, pleasant or otherwise, with the person who had had an affair with my beloved, meself, but... whatever! This isn't really about me, now, is it?)

Meanwhile, Miranda is also dealing with her erstwhile significant other... Steve is recovering well from his treatment for testicular cancer (yay!), but is still feeling rather wretched (boo.) Not feeling wretched in the physical sense (remember this is Fantasy Land, where aggressive cancer treatment has effects similar to having an unpleasant cold--a couple of days of ickiness, and poof! You're healed!), but wretched in the emotional sense. Steve, you see, had to have one of his testicles removed, and as such, feels like less of a man. [Head and Desk look at each other warily, and decide that one violent connection per episode is enough.]

Miranda tries all in her power to coax Steve out of this line of thinking/depression ("Seriously, Steve, I've been to the area, and I wouldn't know if you had one, or four")--she suggests soothing books for him to read, listens to him rant about his testicular woes, goes with him to scary doctors who want to sell him fake testicles (yiiiiikes)... but in the end, learning that his primary anxiety about losing a testicle is that no woman will ever want to sleep with him again... she sleeps with him (again.) Of course she does. I can't see that having any unforeseen consequences at. All.

Charlotte is not dealing with a former amour in this episode, but rather with her current amour... frustrated that she's not pregnant after months of trying, Charlotte asks Trey to have his sperm tested. Having only recently grappled with Impotence Issues, Trey is generally defensive, angry, and unpleasant about the very idea that anything else could potentially be wrong with his Gentlemanly Area. Charlotte talks him out of his neuroses, however (Charlotte to Trey: "I'm sure you have very strong, Scottish sperm"), and they go ahead with the testing. Turns out... she was right! (About the "strong" part, anyway... not sure if they tested for the "Scottish" part. Perhaps this costs extra?)

And what of Samantha, you ask? Well, she is angling for a new job. (A subplot that is about work, and not luvvvv? Can it be true?) Turns out, hotel magnate and general muckety-muck Richard Wright is looking for a new P.R. person. Sam wishes to be that new P.R. person. And Richard acknowledges that she's the best person for the job... but initially refuses to hire her, because Samantha had previously had a fling with one of his other employees, and he reckoned it would all be too messy to have her and said erstwhile fling in the same general area.

Sam makes a rather nice speech about how her sexual past/behavior should have no bearing on her professional life, and that if she were a man, she's quite sure that it wouldn't. This speech impresses Richard so much that he elects to hire her, after all. Well done, Mr. W! (Please file away for future reference the piece of information that said Mr. W is very attractive--so when I said that this plotline was about work, rather than about luvvvv... yeah, I might not have been telling the whole truth about that...)

The Analysis:

"I'm a Bad Wife, I Got Chinese!": Ladies and Their Domestic Responsibilities, How Dare They Slack Off at Them For Even One Day Watch: So Charlotte uses the above phrase about her procurement of Chinese takeout, rather than her construction of an entire meal from scratch, when Trey comes home from work one night. Please take up your omnipresent pad and pen, and scrawl down the following: "Part of good wifehood: consistently preparing homemade meals for your spouse. Failure to do so... falls under the category of 'bad' wifehood." PLEASE.

"Men Don't Talk, They Fight": Male Fighting as a Source of Humor Rather than Womanly Swooning Watch: So I absolutely detest the Twilight series--I find the whole "as a 17-year-old girl, my only dream in life is to be with my patronizing, creepily controlling 100+-year-old boyfriend forever and ever and ever (because he is so prettttty), and have as many sparkly babies of his as I can squeeze out, as soon as possible. College, what? Having an independent identity apart from being My Boyfriend's Gal? Ummm... not interested!" wildly distasteful. (And that's leaving out the "Native Americans are wild, violent beasts! Female sexuality needs to be contained within marriage! Having a baby when you're 18 is super-easy and fun, because said baby will soon be able to read your mind and speak in complete sentences!" stuff... I could go on for days, but I shall spare you.)

ANYWAY, I bring Twilight up at all because I was thinking of it during the whole Aidan-Big fight scene... as we all know (whether we wish to or not... K. Stew and R. Patz... they cannot be escaped!), Twilight relentlessly fetishizes its heroine's two would-be beloveds fighting over her... their battling over who will win her maidenly heart and virginal flesh takes up loooong stretches of those looong books, as she flutters on the sidelines, waiting to see which of her potential gents will emerge triumphant. (Passivity, thy name is Bella Swan. What a great role model you are for the young women of the future, Ms. S. Keep up the good work! By which I mean... do nothing of any interest whatsoever!)

Given this not un-isolated "having two boys fight over you is totally awesome, and one of the proudest achievements of which a straight lady can boast" strain which runs throughout our pop culture, I am amused to see Carrie treating Aidan and Big's fight, not as titillating or romantic, but rather as absurd. She's not swooning on the sidelines, waiting to see which gent will come up trumps, but rather rolling her eyes and yelling at them to stop. She doesn't want to be the prize in any manly contest--she wants Aidan and Big to stop their nonsense, and leave her to drink her tea in peace. Well done, Bradshaw, that's the first sensible thing you've done all episode!

Gender Difference... Is Not Absolute! Hurrah! Watch: So as you have already gathered from my summary, for once in our lives, this episode muses over the alleged vast differences between men and women... and concludes that they are not actually so vast, after all. Halle-bloody-lujah! Carrie concludes in the end that though there are still things about men which she'll never understand (i.e., how Aidan and Big can be wrestling in the mud one minute, and chatting amicably the next... which I admit is a mystery), that women and men actually share more in common as human beings than our "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" culture allows for. Wahoo! I'm ready to file that sucker under "P" for "Progress"!

Annoying Language About Men and Masculinity Watch: Which is not to say that I don't find things in this episode to bug me because, gentle reader... of course I do. You knew that I would!

Thing That Bugs Me In The Way This Episode Talks About Manliness #1: When Trey is telling Charlotte about a confrontation which he'd had at work, she (totally unironically) says, "Good, honey, good--sometimes they just need to hear it from a man." I'm sorry, that retching you just heard? That would be me, seeking to hold down my excellent breakfast in the face of such "as a man, it is your job to be authoritarian and stern, and as a lady, it is my job to admire said stern authoritarianism" malarkey. She couldn't have said "sometimes they just need to hear it from someone who knows what the heck they're talking about"? Or "from someone who's not afraid to stand up to them"? Nope. Has to be from a man, my mistake! [Blogger does all in her power to keep her previously-consumed oatmeal right where it belongs...]

Thing That Bugs Me In The Way This Episode Talks About Manliness #2: At the end of the episode, Carrie informs us that Richard finally chooses to hire Samantha because he"admired her balls." Puh-leeeeze. He couldn't have admired her courage, her chutzpah, her eloquence? Nope, has to be the balls which she notably.... does not have! Equating gutsiness with testicles... how I do tire of it.

Thing That Bugs Me In The Way This Episode Talks About Manliness #3: After Carrie runs her whole (admittedly totally nutty) "I want Aidan and Big to be friends!" plan by the ladies (seriously, what were you thinking, missy?), Samantha says, "Men don't talk, they fight. It's all that crazy testerone--God bless it." For the love of Pete, Jones, don't be undoing all of our good "gender difference is not innate, biological, and unchanging" work here! I would like to suggest that men do talk, and that testosterone is not some bizarre potion which explains all male aggression. Could it be that culture plays some role in discouraging male emotional expressiveness, and glorifying male violence...? It seems not, my mistake!

Raging Double Standards 'Twixt Women and Men in the Workplace Watch: Having taken some points away from this episode for all of this headache-making language about all things manly, I will restore some (you can't say that I'm not generous, now, can you? Well, you can, actually, and with some justification... though I still hope that you won't...) for some interesting discussions about persistent double standards when it comes women, sex, and emotions in the workplace.

As I noted in my summary, Sam has a nice little moment in the sun here (helping to make up for her "testosterone makes men crazzzzy" crack), calling Richard out for refusing to hire her because of a sexual relationship which she'd had in the past. She notes that if she were a gent, she very much doubts that her sexual history would have played any role in Richard's hiring decisions whatsoever... and to his credit, he acknowledges the truth of that statement, and eventually decides not to let it stop him from hiring Samantha, either. Good, good, good!

The ladies also have an interesting discussion about perceptions of the womenfolk and their lady feelings in professional settings, with Samantha and Miranda noting the shocking fact that if a man is visibly angry about a professional issue, this can be seen as a positive--he's passionate and engaged!--whereas for a woman, it is most often seen as a negative--she's crazy and out of control! Huh, you don't say! Next you'll tell me that a woman will be seen as being a bitch, where a man behaving in the same way will be seen as assertive! Elementary stuff, perhaps, but still... nice to see the ladies calling this particular spade a spade here...

Notable Quotables:
Samantha, fuming over Richard's refusal to hire her because of her possession of a female body, complete with lady parts: "What does he think I'm going to do, get my period and ruin his empire?"

Next Up...?: "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda," in which we actually have some quite complex, interesting, and realistic discussions about abortion. Can it be true??? Perhaps I ought to pinch myself, to ensure that I am indeed awake... [Long pause.] Yeouch! Yup, that one stung... interesting discussions about abortion it is, then! I dream not!

No comments:

Post a Comment