Friday, September 9

Season Five, Episode Two: Unoriginal Sin

The Summary:

Who's ready to go to a christening? You are? Well, aren't you in luck, because off to a christening we shall soon be! But not before we get some angsty stuff about The Hopelessness of Existence and The Bleakness of Life in first. Le sigh. Why must you smother every ray of sunshine with a dark cloud, writers? Why, I ask thee--why???

Anyway. The beginning of the episode finds Carrie, as she tells us, "one bad date away from bitter." She is feeling rather hopeless about her love life, fed up with the overall mid-thirties dating scene, and generally full of Gloom, and its close friend and companion, Doom.

And as is so often the case, just as she is beginning to think that life is all lemons, the universe goes and dumps a bucket of lemonade over her head (thanks, universe!), when she learns from her editor that a publisher is interested in collecting a selection of her columns into a book. And that the editors at said publishers are played by the charming Molly Shannon, and the brilliant Amy Sedaris. (Lucky lass, that Carrie Bradshaw!)

Her task now becomes the writing of a preface, which will set the overall tone of her pending book--is the book hopeful about love? Not hopeful? Semi-hopeful? Demi-hopeful? Carrie is not sure, and keeps finding herself totally stuck whenever she tries to hash that out.

In the end, however, a combination of attending Brady's christening (about which, more anon), and spending some quality time with the ever-sunny Charlotte (about which, also more anon) convinces our Ms. Bradshaw that there is tentative cause for hope in the universe, after all, and that as such, she can write an upbeat preface for her book in good conscience. This is what we like to hear! Three cheers for hopefulness, no matter how wan of a strain of hopefulness it may be!

So what was all that which I just said about wee Baby Brady getting himself baptized? Miranda is not religious at all, and Steve is a distinctly lapsed Catholic... but lapsed or not, he makes a big push to get their wee lad baptized, nonetheless. When Miranda brushes this off as a patently ludicrous notion, Steve sensibly points out that it's a nice ceremony, will give their friends and family a chance to gather to celebrate the bundle of adorableness that is Brady, will score said adorable Brady bucketloads of presents, and is also an opportunity to have CAKE. So... baptism it is!

Rather to her surprise, Miranda 1) finally ends up meeting Steve's mother (who, to our pleasant surprise, turns out to be the hi-bloody-larious Anne Meara), who, it transpires, is an amiable, if also perpetually tipsy and foul-mouthed, lady; and 2) finds herself moved by the ceremony and the chance to officially make her good buddy Carrie Brady's godmother. Also, the post-baptism cake looks DELICIOUS. Victories all around!

Charlotte, meanwhile, has fallen under the spell of a creepy self-help guru, who is some kind of unpleasant blend between Suze Orman, and that nutty woman who wrote The Secret. (For the record, I have nothing against Orman's books or ideas--I value someone telling me in words of one syllable what the Sam Hill to do with my meager cash as much as the next clueless, math-is-my-doom humanities person does--they just made this episode's creepy guru look like her is all.)

So this nutty guru's whole shtick is that if you believe that good things will happen to you hard enough... said good things will actually come to pass. (In that case, where is Jon Stewart with my daily delivery of vegan donuts, hmmmm?) Charlotte tries to sell Carrie on this idea, and she is, understandably, skeptical about it. She nonetheless agrees to accompany Charlotte to one of the creepy guru's lectures... where, it transpires, she becomes more skeptical still.

After Charlotte tentatively asks the guru why it is that even though she believes in love and hopes for love, she has not yet found love, and the guru nastily shuts her down by saying that she just must not be trying hard enough, Carrie sticks up for her. Charlotte is doing all in her power, Carrie notes, but sometimes, even that is not enough.

Depressing, I suppose, but I am much happier to settle on a "sometimes bad things do happen to good people" type message, than I am to queasily hover over a "if you don't get everything you hope for in life, it must be because you are somehow fatally flawed" type message. Because (looking to both my left and my right) I cannot help but notice that neither Jon Stewart, nor my donuts, have yet arrived. Alas! Another bubble burst, another dream shattered!

Samantha, meanwhile, is back with Richard. (As Charlotte puts it, "Richard whose death we've been plotting?") He fed her some rubbish line about how he got scared of their emotional closeness, and as such went running off to sleep with other ladies. (Of course, I am told this is a very common reaction to any form of masculine emotional discomfort.) He says he loves her, and will do his best not to cheat on her anymore. Samantha: buys this line. Her friends: do not. I: side with her friends.

Sam spends the entire episode 1) admiring the gorgeous diamond which Richard got her as a "we seem to be back together again, apologies about the whole 'cheating' thing" present, and 2) worrying that her friends are right (hint: THEY ARE), and that Richard is a sleazeball who is not really that sorry about having cheated on her in the first place, and fully intends to do so again. But at the end of the episode... Sam is still with him. Good call, Jones! I am sure that is going to work out reeeeeal well. (Hint: IT ISN'T.)

The Analysis:

Radically Inappropriate Garments to Wear to Religious Ceremonies Watch:
So Carrie wears a very low-cut black dress to Brady's christening (black? As someone who has worn black dresses to weddings because Vogue said I could and I have a couple of really nice black dresses, okay?, I will let that one slide, but very low-cut? Must we? You are going to be in all the christening pictures, missy, I do not need to see acres of your flesh in said family snaps.) She also wears a cracked-out fascinator, however, which gave me pleasant flashbacks to the Royal Wedding. Le sigh. No one does cracked-out pseudo-hats like the British do cracked-out pseudo-hats.

"He Got Scared?!?": Male Excuses for Infidelity Being Total Bullshit, and Pleasantly Being Identified As Such, Watch: So I must say that I love and welcome the fact that Richard's whole "well... I just couldn't handle emotional intimacy, so therefore my screwing-around on you is totally justifiable, and also, I am probably going to do so again in the near future" is regarded very negatively by all of our ladies (except for the willfully clueless Sam.)

Given the ways in which the show has, in the past, sailed perilously close to actually endorsing a biological-determinism-style "men are just different, sometimes they simply cannot help their manly selves!" permissiveness when it comes to radical male misbehavior... I am glad to see the writers clearly showing us that Richard is a jerk, Sam is being naive and rather foolhardy to trust him again, and that her friends are quite right to think he is an unpleasant gent she would be better off without. I do like to see a spade called a spade/a cheater called a cheater!

"From a Bakery in... Queens": Denigration of the Boroughs, and By Extension, Some Icky Class Politics Watch: As aforementioned, I think Anne Meara is delightful, and she takes every scene that she is in as Steve's loopy and inappropriate mater and walks clean off with it. (And that is with Cynthia Nixon in the room... so no mean feat!)

However. Putting one's praise for Ms. Meara to one side, I will take a moment to sourly note (I do love me some sour noting!) that there does seem to be something rather troubling, in the ways in which her Queens-based self is represented. For one thing, the fact that she is, in fact, from Queens, is the source of much bemused comment and not a few jokes, and Queens itself treated as an alien and bizarre landscape by our leading ladies. Please, my friends. Manhattan is splendid, but from what I've heard, it's dizzyingly pricey self is not the beginning and end of the known universe. Give the anti-Borough thing a rest. (Not that they will, brace yourself for some potent anti-Brooklyn rhetoric anon!)

Steve's mother also seems to be persistently coded as "vulgar" and "low-class" in some ways which I find rather problematic. She drinks like a fish. She curses in church--in front of the priest. She wears an unflattering, circa 1950 hairnet in public. She goes on a rant about how she doesn't have a problem with her African-American daughter-in-law, which makes it clear that she really does have a problem with her African-American daughter-in-law. And having one of the very, very few non-affluent, non-posh-Manhattanite characters be a drunken, cussing racist with zero fashion sense... somehow does not sit quite right with me. Ah well. Plenty of more opportunities for me to be thus offended because Steve's mum... will be baaaaaaack!

Notable Quotables:

Carrie: "Maybe it's not advisable to be an optimist past the age of 30." (Fie on that, missy, I turn 30 in a few short days, and I'll be darned if I'll give up my Pollyanna-like, sunshiny attitude for love or money. I will cling to it with both of my increasingly withered hands--cling to it, I say!)

Miranda, on what Steve's mother is like: "Imagine Steve... in a wig... drunk!" She is also a redhead, I feel compelled to note, and therefore that much more AWESOME.

Next Up...?: "Luck Be An Old Lady," in which the ladies (I refuse to use the word "old," these women are in their thirties and forties for the love of Pete) venture to my beloved native state to enrich its national economy through gambling. Woooo! Gamble recklessly, women of NYC! Pour money into Atlantic City's needy coffers! Oh, and in addition to that, there is some stuff about aging and loneliness and new motherhood and creepy, cheating boyfriends. Sounds like a whirligig of Jersey fun to me!


  1. Miranda: "...When I get scared, I hide under the covers- not between someone's legs!"

    DEFINITELY my favorite line of the entire episode. I also enjoyed how Miranda just went along with the baptism, but wasn't...ahem, "transformed" by it.


  2. Ah, that is indeed a great one! That definitely should have made my notable quotables... Miranda is always good for those, bless her!

    I thought the way that they handled the baptism was very sweet--Miranda definitely doesn't have a massive religious conversion, as you say, but she nonetheless sees something moving and significant about gathering her family and friends to welcome Brady into their community, and to give him good wishes for the future... it is all very touching, I thought. Also--I wish to have a piece of the cake served at said event--so yummy-looking!

  3. Yes, the cake was well worth it!

    But yeah, Miranda clearly did it with only the baby in mind. Well...the Brady and the cake.


  4. And I appreciate that she kind of does it for Steve, too--trying to negotiate this weird, tricky balance of having her in her life, while not letting him take over that life. I think the show did a really good and interesting job of thinking through how Miranda and Steve could be co-parents while still not being a couple--until, of course, the show inevitably made them a couple!