Friday, July 1

Season Four, Episode Eighteen: I Heart NY

The Summary:

Can you believe that we have officially arrived at the season finale??? Me neither. But lo and behold--arrive we most certainly have. And there are many lively doings afoot in said season finale--so do let us delve into them without further ado (why must I always make such an ado???), shall we?

So the, ahem, big news on the Carrie front is (surprise, surprise) Big-related. She learns in this episode that he is moving. To California. Pretty much... now. Carrie: is sad. I: am happy. (Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Noth!) Carrie: decides that she wants to give Big a proper send-0ff, which may or may not include sleeping with him. I: think she's an idiot.

So Carrie and Big go out for one last night of dinner, dancing, and general New York fabulousness--they're riding around in a carriage in Central Park (which they are both a little embarrassed to do, as it's so cheesy and tourist-y--but who cares--pretty horsies, pretty horsies!!!), and they kiss. [Blogger's Desk, once again, prepares for impact of her Head.] Said kiss is interrupted, however, by a call from one Miss Miranda Hobbes, Mummy-to-Be... turns out, she is in labor! So instead of sleeping with Big, Carrie rushes off to help her friend give birth. (A happy exchange, if you ask me--not that you did.)

The episode ends, however, with Big leaving behind a plane ticket for Carrie, and making it clear that he still expects to be a part of her life, even if from the other end of the country. Carrie: is pleased. I: 1) wonder if you can really do that--just buy someone a generic plane ticket for the generic future? If so, how does that work? "To: Place. From: Other Place. Date and Time: You Know, Whenever"???, and 2) am also pleased--to see him go. [Under breath, ominously: "For now, anyway..."]

But forget Big (please)--what about this whole birth thing? Miranda's big "issuing living child from within her body" day is upon her, and she and Steve are doing all the last minute parent-type stuff which needs to happen pre-baby--building their baby's crib (during which Steve tears up, and Miranda reprimands him) and discussing their baby's name (during which Steve tears up, and Miranda reprimands him.) (Pattern--methinks I sense one.) Miranda has decided to name the wee one "Brady" which, awwww, is Steve's last name. (As well, of course, as being the name of a particularly fabulous Bunch!)

Before going into labor, Miranda outlines for Carrie what she does and does not want to happen in the birthing room--i.e., no hyper-emotional outbursts from Steve, no overly peppy cheerleading from the nurses. She just wants to have Carrie there, holding her hand, and otherwise be left alone to get on with her business. And get on with her business she does, giving birth to the fetching, red-haired (yes. My people are everywhere! You cannot escape us!) little Brady. We leave Miranda looking pleasingly, plausibly like she's just given birth (well done, makeup team!), staring at her new little fella in wonder and consternation. See you next season, Mamma M. and Baby B.! Mazel tov!

Charlotte, meanwhile, not having dated or slept with anyone since Trey (perhaps in part because... they are still married?) decides that she needs to start seeing gents again to really, properly begin the Getting-Over-The-Pending-Divorce process. Volunteering as a docent at the Museum of Modern Art (oooh, pretty pictures, pretty pictures!), she meets the charming-seeming Eric, and eventually accepts his repeated invites to go to dinner with him.

Having hit it off with Eric (mainly by exchanging war stories about their respective, horrendous pending divorces, which... does not seem ominous to me in any way!), Charlotte decides that he is The Guy to be her first post-Trey assignation. However, when she takes him home after their dinner, he freaks out when he realizes how incredibly rich she is, wandering around her apartment ranting about how much nicer than his it is. So... looks like Charlotte's post-Trey dating/sex is put on hold for the moment, as she 1) realizes that maybe she's not quite as ready to date yet as she had thought, and 2) remembers how darned weird and awkward dating can be. Welcome back to the fray, Miss C! See you there in Season 5!

And what about Samantha, you ask? Still in love with Vile Richard, and quite terrified (and firmly convinced) that he is cheating on her. He assures her that he is not, and, indeed, all evidence seems to suggest that he is not... but somehow, Samantha still feels like she can't quite trust him. (What, not trust the guy who suggested a threesome with a college kid for his birthday present? I can't imagine why not!)

So she steals his apartment key from his cleaning lady, buys herself a wig (!), and stalks him. And eventually, she does, indeed, catch him cheating on her. Sam: Heartbroken. Richard: Dumped. Wig: FABULOUS.

The Analysis:

Women Birthin' Babies Watch: The most noteworthy part of this episode, of course, is the advent of young baby Brady. I think the episode does quite a nice job of handling the whole birthin' process... it doesn't flinch from showing some of the less glamorous/usually less emphasized aspects of birth (we see Miranda's water break, for example... on Carrie's new, gorgeous pair of fancy-pants shoes. Whoopsies!)

And I like the fact that the episode doesn't represent labor in the stereotypical "woman screams, cries for drugs, reproaches the man who got her preggers" way. Instead, it gives a pleasantly understated depiction of birth, showing it as darned hard work, while not reducing Miranda to stereotyped screeching, and making a point of emphasizing the importance of the emotional and moral support which Carrie provides to Miranda throughout the process. [Blogger pauses to give a shout-out to all the doulas of the world. Keep it up, doulas! Many thanks for all of your doula-ing!]

And as I mentioned in my summary, the episode doesn't glam Miranda up during or after her birthin' scenes--i.e., mussing up her hair a little, but otherwise leaving her looking gorgeous-TV-star-perfect. Instead, her hair looks sweaty as the dickens, her face is beet-red... she looks, not slightly- flushed-glamorous-actress-y, but like an exhausted woman just out of labor. Yay! Realism! Skilled makeup artists! Good things, all!

"Don't Cry, Steve": Welcome Back, Gender Essentialism! How Have You Been in the TWO MINUTES Since I Saw You Last? Watch: In an otherwise entirely pleasant and enjoyable episode (I do not like the perfidious Richard--the perfidious Richard gets dumped--I do not like the tricky-pants Big--the tricky-pants Big gets shipped off to California--I like pretty Monet watercolors--I get to see plenty of pretty Monet watercolors), I will confide in you that I do find something to be annoyed about in the way that this episode handles the pre-birth dynamics/conversations between Miranda and Steve.

It's not all bad, mind you--Steve is both pleasantly involved in helping Miranda prepare for the advent of their youngster, but also pleasantly deferential to her wishes re: what to name the pending lad (since she is the one carrying the whipper-snapper and all.)

HOWEVER. Every time he starts to get visibly emotional about their baby-to-be, said emotional-ness is 1) played for laughs/treated as a source of comedy by the writers, and 2) curtly shut down by Miranda. I dunno, seeing a fella get misty-eyed at the prospect of his future son... seems more sweet and charming to me than it seems either comical or irritating. Why can't a guy get teary-eyed over the pending birth of his kid? Oh, I forgot because boys don't cry, tears are for sissies, etc., etc. How could I have forgotten?

I know I am supposed to laugh at all of the "reversals" in this episode (i.e., Miranda is the one who insists on actually building the crib for their baby, even though she doesn't really know what she's doing, while Steve is the one patiently reading out the directions to her, and correcting her inevitable mistakes... get it, it's like she's the "husband" and he's the "wife"! Funny!)

Except... it all just seems more wearisome and annoying than amusing to me. Miranda is more brisk and no-nonsense, Steve is more reactive and emotional. The fact that these qualities are often remarked on as an amusing gender reversal rather tires me out. Repeat after me, writers: being overtly emotional is not exclusively feminine. Being more emotionally contained is not exclusively masculine. Good. Now go and give yourself some stars. (Unless giving yourself stars is too "girly"...?)

Though, to be fair, I suppose I ought to pause in my nitpicking to note that although Steve is mocked a bit for being so weepy in this episode, it is relatively gentle mockery... and though Miranda reacts with exasperation every time she sees a glitter of tears in his eyes, the episode doesn't suggest that Miranda or Steve either can, or will, change their teary/non-teary ways. They are who they are, and though the episode seems to suggest that that makes them amusingly atypical specimens of man/womanhood, it does not suggest that that makes them in some way "bad." So... I guess we can accept that? For now, anyway? (As long as they let baby Brady cry without telling him it's a sissy thing to do! There, one draws the line!)

Notable Quotables: Carrie: "Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course, we wouldn't fall in love, or have babies, or be who are are. After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life, and people go. But it's comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart." [Love it!]

Next Up...?: Why, fry me for a donut if we are not almost onto Season Five. Jeepers. Which means, of course, that we have only two more wee little seasons standing between us and... the movies. (Oh... the terror of the movies! THE TERROR.)

But not to worry, dear friends, the scariest thing that we'll have to grapple with next time you join me is an overview of Season Four--how did it improve on/replicate the past madnesses of previous seasons? What were its dizzy highs? What were its embarrassing lows? Join me anon, and we shall discuss! Yay! Discussion!