Oooh, this episode is partly about books! Yay! I love books! I mean it's not primarily about books, so much, but there is a big scene which takes place in a bookstore, and several of the major plot points center on books in some way... so I am going to call this episode in favor of books. Wahoo! Goooooo, Team Books!
ANYWAY. To move on from books (if such a thing is ever possible...?) We begin with Carrie, who is thinking about the cover for her, well, BOOK. (So I guess we're not really moving on from books. Excellent!) For said cover, her publishers have proposed that they photoshop her head onto a model's body, and have "her" standing naked in the middle of an NYC street. Even though this idea is proposed by the lovely and amazing Amy Sedaris (whom I am sooooo glad is still here--yay, hopefully well-paid cameo appearances by delightfully wacky, off-beat stars!), Carrie, unsurprisingly, finds this concept everything but loving and amazing. Good call, Bradshaw, and well done putting your Manolo Blahnik heel firmly down on this one. Next!
So Carrie laments to Samantha about her Book Cover Woes, and Sam 1) being Carrie's generous friend, and 2) being a high-powered publicist muckety-muck, offers to help Carrie craft her cover look, gratis. Awwwww. How nice of her!
Except, of course, this niceness quickly devolves into sourness and unpleasantness as 1) Sam and Carrie learn just how different their concepts of what a "sexy but tasteful" book cover might look like are (Carrie: more in the "artsy Vogue photo shoot" vein. Sam: more in the "make the heels on those furry mules HIGHER, dammit!" vein. I see.), and 2) when scooting over to Sam's office for a business meeting, Carrie walks in on her giving a blow job to a Worldwide Express guy (so named so that neither FedEx nor UPS would sue, one supposes...?) Of course she does, I am told that this is behavior which high-powered female executives often engage in outside of cheap pornography. [At this point in the proceedings, Head and Desk stage a touching reunion.]
Carrie is appalled by what she has seen, and treats Sam oddly in consequence, all the while pretending that she is not appalled by what she has seen, and is actually completely non-judge-y about it. (While being, in reality, totally judge-y.) Sam is not fooled by said facade of non-appallment and non-judge-y-ness, however, and finally gets Carrie to admit that she did judge Sam for engaging in a random sexual act, with a stranger, in her office, with the door unlocked for the love of Pete, woman, have you no common sense.
Sam, who had previously been all "how dare you set boundaries on my sexual freedom, I shall wear no scarlet A in your presence, my puritanical friend!" about the incident, eventually confesses to Carrie that sometimes she judges herself for her sexual behavior, and that her break-up with Richard is still messing with her head/mucking about with her behavior. Hmmmm. As we shall discuss in the analysis, I... don't know quite how to feel about that! All I know for sure is that this episode makes me super glad that the most embarrassing thing anyone has ever walked in on me doing in my office involved me eating a muffin--and no, that is not a euphemism for anything, clean out your mind with soap!
Anyway. Are you ready to talk about Miranda and Charlotte now? Good, I hoped you might be. So Miranda, panicking about her "excess" "baby weight" [blogger pauses to note, once again, that Cynthia Nixon looks totally awesome in Season 5, and always, and that all of this falderal about her being somehow portly is totally annoying and ridiculous... also the very concept of "baby weight"--stupid. Baby-having changes women's bodies, and that is okay, people], has decided to join Weight Watchers. Okay, if you must... that seems like a moderately more healthy decision than going on the No Food diet, or similar.
While at Weight Watchers, Miranda meets the charming Tom, who is fetching, sarcastic, and pleasantly unpretentious. Soooo... you know instantly that everything to do with him is inevitably going to end in tears, do you not? Ah, dear readers, you are quick studies! The writers can pull nary a bit of wool over your eyes.
Because it turns out that 1) Tom overeats whenever he gets criticized, and 2) Miranda decides to offer him some constructive criticism about his cunnilingus technique. (Yes, I did just type that/you did just read that.) It seems that he... how to put this delicately? [Blogger pauses, and realizes that there is no way to put this delicately.] It seems that he does not remove certain essences off of his face after performing this act, and before kissing Miranda. I see. I would do my usual "I am told that is very common" here, but... I kind of hope that it is not.
So Miranda--armed with advice from her friends--while praising Tom's dexterity to the skies, suggests that they introduce our friend The Tissue into the bedroom. Tom, of course, promptly freaks out, and breaks up with Miranda. Boo. Ah well. Saw that one coming a mile off. Buh-bye, Tom! Godspeed working on... um, everything in future!
And... onto Charlotte. Not much to say here, except 1) (I don't know why I am numbering bloody everything in this post, but it just feels right) Charlotte has been reading self-help books, to, well, help her make her way through her divorce. Good for you, Ms. C, that seems like a healthy and productive step, if you're finding said books helpful!, and 2) when she sees the kinds of people who peruse the self-help shelves in her local Barnes and Noble (yay! BOOKSTORES), and finally registers the fact that her bookshelf is now filled with missives which prominently feature the words "desperate women"--she decides to stop reading self-help books, cold turkey. And throws one such book out of her apartment window, to symbolize her liberation from the genre. Great idea, except 1) YOU COULD KILL SOMEONE, and 2) libraries need donations more than random passers-by on the street need brain damage...?
And--brace yourself--there is an ACTUAL STANFORD SUBPLOT IN THIS EPISODE. Yay! I love Stanford, and we see not nearly enough of his delightful self. So Stanford has a new boyfriend, who is 1) a dancer, 2) gorgeous, and 3) very sweet. Is it possible the writers feel a flicker of guilt for all the humiliation and sorrow which they have heaped upon Stanford's head over the years...? Can it be true...? Perhaps we can dare to dream...?
LGBT Folks Watch: Stanford, and his lovely boyfriend, Marcus. Yayyyyy!
"I Will Not Be Judged by You, or Society": Condemning Ladies' Slutttttttiness Watch: As alluded to before, I am a wee bit conflicted about the plotline in this episode about Samantha and her slutty, slutty ways. Shall I take you inside said conflict, very likely against your will?
On the One Hand: Carrie is totally right to judge Samantha for giving a random guy a blow job in her workplace, with the door unlocked, because that is ridiculously stupid and unprofessional.
On the Other Hand: Maybe Carrie isn't totally right to judge Samantha on the grounds of engaging in casual sex with someone she doesn't know? That's just kind of Sam's thing, and who are we to condemn her for it...? Everyone involved is consenting adults, so who cares...?
On a Non-Existent/Mutant Third Hand: Can we split the difference between "I don't want to slut-shame anybody, darn it!" and "It is kind of gross to engage in lewd acts in the middle of the workday, within mere feet of other people, who are innocently trying to do their (non-blowing) jobs" and say that what seems the most disturbing to me here is that Sam propositions this gent, not, it seems, out of genuine desire, but more because she still feels sad and confused about Richard, and just wants to feel something and to be with someone, even if it is only in that fleeting, casual sort of way. Yup, I think I can live with that one. And, with a sense of happiness and relief--let us therefore move on!
Icky Discussions of Weight Watch (See What I Did There? Weight... Watch? In An Episode Which Features Weight Watchers? PUNS): Various things about this episode, and how it grapples with the issue of weight, make me uncomfortable. Shall I enumerate these for you, very likely against your will?
1) I have this prickling, uneasy sense that one of the many things which dooms Tom as a romantic prospect for Miranda is the fact that he is overweight. I don't want to be too quick to judge and condemn the writers here (okay, let's be truthful, I love to judge and condemn the writers, both here and everywhere), because, to be fair to them (see! I try to be fair!), Tom's primary flaw is that he turns out to be loopy, rather than that he is "fat." And goodness knows, the show has exhibited a veritable parade of loopy men over the seasons, most of whom were most certainly not fat. And yet... I am still somehow haunted by the sense that there's just no way that the show, the season, or even the episode, would have ended with Miranda with a fat boyfriend. And that is lame. Lame, I say!
2) Also lame is the fact that Charlotte's first clue that reading self-help books might not be for her is finding a plump woman crying in the self-help aisle of B & N, and proclaiming that such books have really helped her. We are clearly meant to take away from this that the trim, pretty Charlotte most certainly does not belong in the same category as this untrim, not-conventionally-attractive woman--and that is lame. Lame, I say!
Yet More Anxiety and Neuroses About Age Watch: In tussling with Samantha about what would and would not be an appropriate look for her book cover, Carrie proclaims (as Sam tries to push something equal parts sheer and skimpy on her), "It's time for ladies my age to cover it up." Shall I confide my responses to this statement to you, very likely against your will?
For one thing, that is kind of rich coming from someone whose navel I have (literally) been gazing into all season, and who ends up on her book cover wearing only a shirt and high heels. For another thing, as someone who teaches college kids, I would like to proclaim that it is time for people of every age to cover it up. I do not want to know one single, solitary thing about my students' underwear, at all, EVER. And yet, given their choice of attire, somehow I do. And that is WRONG--pedagogically, ethically, sartorially, and in every other way imaginable.
And for yet another thing... hmmm. While not myself being a fan of anything in the "Let us show yet more skin! More, I say, more! Let complete strangers see the small of my back, why not?" school of fashion, I do resent a leetle bit the idea that this is an age-specific thing. If a twenty-something starlet wants to wear a low-cut dress, fine. If Helen Mirren wants to wear a low-cut dress, equally fine. (Helen Mirren can do basically whatever she wants, of course, since she is quite ridiculously awesome.) Shouldn't what one wears perhaps... be about what makes one feel comfortable and confident and great? And not about issuing all the over-35s with mandatory turtlenecks...? Maybe, possibly, perhaps...?
Stanford, when Carrie is fretting about being judgmental: "We all judge, that's our hobby. Some people do arts and crafts, we judge."
Stanford, entering the room as Carrie is changing into and out of potential cover outfits: "Nothing in here I haven't seen and ruled out in junior high!" (Have I mentioned that I love Stanford?)
Next Up...?: "Plus One is the Loneliest Number"--an episode which I will candidly tell you right out of the gate that I really, really like, for the following NUMBERED reasons: 1) because it introduces Carrie's newest love interest, sardonic writer Jack Berger--with whom I am very much taken, meself, 2) because it features lots and lots of cupcakes with little sugar shoes on top of them (two of my favorite things, in one delicious package!), 3) because it includes Samantha Jones wearing a wacky black hat with a MASSIVE veil, which makes her look like the oldest living Confederate widow, and 4) because it reveals to us that the writers have not yet broken up Stanford and his charming boyfriend. Good news, all around!