Friday, June 10

Season Four, Episode Thirteen: The Good Fight

The Summary:

Slap on your boxing gloves, sharpen your dueling swords, and, uh, do other stuff that people do whilst getting ready to fight (can you tell I was raised by pacifists?), my friends, because we are about to get fight-y!

So having accepted Aidan's marriage proposal in our last episode, Carrie has taken the first step down Future Married Couple Road, and she and Aidan are moving in together. And it is stressful, and terrible. (Though I must say, as someone about to move meself, the sight of all of those boxes untidily strewn all over Carrie's apartment... made me feel a bit better about all of the boxes untidily strewn all over my apartment. Yay! Untidiness!)

ANYWAY, Carrie is deeply annoyed that every time she sets foot in her apartment now, she has to navigate not only around all of Aidan's unending boxes of stuff, but also around Aidan himself, who is consistently all over her the instant she walks in the front door. (Aidan, the second Carrie comes into the apartment: "Hey, pop tart, where you been, and what you been doing?" Carrie: Looks silently murderous.)

Loving Aidan (despite the "pop tart" language--about which... sheeeesh), Carrie nonetheless deeply and passionately misses the peace and solitude which had been hers during her single, non-cohabiting life. She laments to her friends the sudden lack of opportunity to engage in what she dubs "my SSB--Secret Single Behavior... things you would never want your boyfriend to see you do." (Carrie's: eating stacks of crackers covered in jam, while standing in her kitchen reading fashion magazines. Miranda's: Putting on conditioning gloves and watching infomercials. Charlotte's: Studying her pores in a magnifying mirror. Samantha's... non-existent.)

Carrie's frustration about suddenly having to share her space and have her solitude compromised explodes out in a fight which she has with Aidan about (initially) the mad dissemination of his stuff all over her apartment. (Carrie, rifling through Aidan's boxes: "Who needs five, almost empty SpeedStick deodorants??? What are you, a crazy bag man???") The fight deepens into a broader-themed yelling match about how claustrophobic Carrie feels with Aidan in her space, and how excluded Aidan feels when she insists on calling it her space (rather than their space), in the first place.

After not being on speaking terms for several days, they finally have a rational discussion in which Carrie asks Aidan to give her a bit of space and alone time, even when they are at home in her tiny apartment at the same time. He acquiesces. They are happy. The episode ends with them cuddling, rather than about to kill each other. Excellent!

Miranda, meanwhile, is anxious--she is off on a blind date with a dashing gent named Walker, and concludes (by the end of said date) that sleeping with Walker is something which she would very much like to do. However, she feels weird about it since... she is pregnant. With... someone else's kid. Can she, as a future mommy-to-be, embark on a no-strings-attached sexual escapade, the likes of which she would not have thought twice about in her pre-mommy-to-be days? She concludes that she can, and she, correspondingly, does. Turns out... pregnant women remain sexual beings, even whilst gestating! Good to know!

Samantha, it transpires, is anxious, too--not about whether or not she should sleep with her own particular dashing gent--i.e., her boss, Richard (been there, done that, as they say), but because she finds that she actually likes Richard. And when he makes some tentative moves towards romance--trying to dance with her, giving her flowers, etc., Sam freaks out. Convinced that all love is doomed to end in terrible disaster, she wants to keep her relationship with Richard strictly business (and sex.)

But, whoops, for once... that doesn't seem like it's going to work out! She really does like the guy, you see, and by the end of the episode, has conceded that fact to herself. Samantha Jones, may I formerly extend this invitation to, as the kids say nowadays, "start a love train"?

So Carrie is happy (no longer fighting with Aidan), Miranda is happy (having slept with Walker), and even Samantha is moderately happy (admitting to herself that being with Richard, even in a non-sexified way, makes her happy)... which means, of course, that poor Charlotte must be miserable. And miserable she most certainly is. She is coldly furious with Trey for taking them off of the baby track, but refuses to say so directly.

Refuses, that is, until Trey decides to give her a "gag" gift... of a giant, cardboard baby. (Apparently, this is something which writer Michael Patrick King actually once did himself to an ex-boyfriend, about which... yikes, Mr. King! Why am I not surprised to hear that you did this to an ex-boyfriend?) It seems that Trey thought that giving Charlotte a baby would somehow help to relieve her sadness that he can't... well, give her a baby (of a non-cardboard variety.)

Turns out, it doesn't, but rather results in a huge, screaming fight between the two, which ends in very heartily slammed doors and very strongly bitter words. Not in front of the cardboard baby, people! Won't somebody, please, think of the fake children???

The Analysis:

Pregnant Women--Sexual After All, It Transpires, Watch
: In the commentary which he recorded for this episode, Michael Patrick King stresses (during the Miranda-Walker sex scene) that the SATC writers were determined to deal with pregnancy differently than other TV shows had done in the past. Part of this untypical-ness, clearly, was underlining the point that pregnant women are (shocker) still autonomous sexual beings, with their own desires, even as they are Carriers of Future Life. Perhaps not entirely revolutionary stuff, but in a culture which still tends to desexualize pregnant women (when it's not hypersexualizing them in some distinctly creepy ways, that is, which is a whole different story)--nice to see!

Co-Habitation=Tricky Watch: I do so very much enjoy the Carrie-Aidan plot line in this episode, as once again, it shows us Carrie running headlong up against a stereotype about how she "should" feel about having her fiance move in with her, and puzzling over how far apart the stereotype and her actual experience are. Her beloved boyfriend is moving in! She should be beside herself with joy! She should be unambiguously delighted! She should be turning cartwheels amidst all of the unpacked boxes! But... she isn't. Happy being with Aidan, and even fundamentally happy about living with him, she nonetheless finds his sudden, constant presence, and the massive influx of all of his stuff into space which had once been hers and hers alone unsettling. She pines for some of the quiet solitude of her single life, and feels uneasy about somehow losing herself amidst the rush of becoming part of a twosome.

The writers symbolize this tension (how else?) through clothes... asking Carrie to get rid of some of her stuff to make room for some of his stuff, Aidan suggests that she give away some of her more outre outfits, specifically a mad-looking Roberto Cavalli dress. She initially consents to sacrifice the dress to his (much more boring) clothes, even though she lovvvves it--but in the very last scene of the episode, we see her striding down the street alone--wearing that very same dress. (Yay! Dress striding!)

True, this is the writers once again using (very, very expensive) material possessions as a means of symbolizing female independence and autonomy, which I admit is problematic (every time they do this, somewhere, the gods of capitalism pause from counting their piles of money to smile contentedly)--but on the other hand, as a lass who is very much attached to some of her (non-designer) dresses, I did rather love this detail.

Because Carrie very much values her cracked-out clothing--for her, it is a significant part of who she is, and by keeping and proudly wearing her mad Cavalli number, rather than giving in to Aidan's request to jettison it, she is affirming that she is going to stay herself, even as she feels her way into couplehood. Excellent. So far, I am loving the "coupling and cohabitation may be lovely, but are also, surprise, surprise, challenging" angle. And also--the dress.

Single Women--Whatever Do They Get Up To Whilst Alone?--Watch: I will also confess to having a distinct and pronounced soft spot for Carrie's concept of secret single behavior. I suspect that every--not just woman, but person--who is or has ever been single/lived alone (i.e.... pretty much all of us) can identify with the concept of doing moderately-loopy stuff at home when no one is watching you (pretty much because no is watching you), which (despite its moderate loopiness) you take deep and profound pleasure in. While retaining my air of feminine mystery, I think I can safely tell you that my SSB might just revolve around quasi-obsessively (okay--flat-out obsessively) rewatching episodes of British sitcoms which I have already seen a million times. There, the secret is out! Though I may well have rendered myself permanently unmarriageable by disclosing it, still--I regret nothing!

Notable Quotables:

Miranda: "Nothing puts a man off sex like pregnancy." Really, Ms. Hobbes? Could have fooled me...

Aidan, pawing through Carrie's closet: "How many pairs of shoes does one person need?"
Carrie: "That is not the way to get out of this alive."

Next Up...?: "All That Glitters..." which is about... sparkly objects? Ooooh, goody! I love sparkly objects! Oh wait, sorry, it's actually about all of the ladies' ongoing struggles with love, commitment, feeeeeelings, pending motherhood, etc. (Sparkly objects barely get a look-in, more's the pity. Won't somebody, please, think of all the sparkly objects???) Carrie is still wondering how she simultaneously can be herself and Aidan's Fiancee/Future Wife, Charlotte's marriage is still teetering on the brink of the abyss, Samantha still cares about Richard waaaay more than she is comfortable with, and Miranda is still trying to keep her pregnancy a secret from her co-workers. So--a totally peaceful, uneventful episode ahead, then! Or, alternately--DOOOOOOOOOM.

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