Friday, October 28

Season Five, Episode Eight: I Love a Charade

The Summary:

Welcome, my dear friends, to this, the finale of the minute and miniscule Season Five! (Eight short episodes, and yet I still had to pay almost as much for Season Five as I did for the eighteen-episode-long Season Four. Not cool, HBO. Not. Cool. Though maybe I, too, deserve some of the blame here, since I most certainly allowed myself to be thus price-gouged...?)

Anyway. To happier matters! The happiest of said happy matters being that this episode has, as its very special guest star, one Mr. Nathan Lane. Yayyyyyy! I do heart me some Nathan Lane. Here he plays cabaret star Bobby Fine, a long-standing casual friend/acquaintance of Carrie's, who has a charming lounge act, a reliable stream of amusing one-liners, and a series of entertaining bow ties and cravats which he sports over the course of the episode. Good. Times.

Bobby is in ways the heart and center of this episode, in that at the beginning of it, the ladies learn that the very-much-gay Bobby is about to marry the very-much-straight socialite-of-a-certain-age Bitsy von Muffling. (I will give the writers a free pass on the ridiculous unreality of that name, just because it is so. Fun.)

Bobby's pending nuptials throw all of our four women into a confused tizzy. Why, they wonder, are Bobby and Bitsy getting hitched, when Bobby is so clearly not into The Ladies? Are Bobby and Bitsy, as they both insistently proclaim, deeply in love? Or is something else at work here? The ladies don't know. We don't know. No one, apart from Bitsy and Bobby themselves, seems to know! (But I do know that I can think of worse people to marry than Nathan Lane. I wouldn't mind if he had a steady stream of boyfriends, if he let me borrow his cravats sometimes, and told me juicy stories about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans involved in making The Lion King.)

Meanwhile, Carrie's own love life becomes significantly more complicated/confusing/AWESOME when everyone's (okay... my) favorite sarcastic writer, Jack Berger (with whom she had a brief, delightful flirtation, until she learned he had a girlfriend, a few episodes back) pops back into her life... this time, having broken up with the aforementioned girlfriend. YES.

Carrie: super-excited that Berger is now a Free Bird, and as such, can now freely, er, bird-ly pursue her. Berger: likewise (except, you know, in reverse.) But can things go smoothly for these two crazy kids, when it comes to their resumed, now-totally-legit flirtation? Oh, my dear readers. Of course it can't.

In one of their early "Berger-is-now-available, hooray" conversations, their shared commiseration over their past breakups quickly devolves into a crazy rant on the part of the (admittedly very nervous) Carrie, about how gut-wrenchingly, heart-breakingly terrible breakups are, and how she wonders if she could ever survive another one. (Spoiler alert--she can--and will! Several, actually!)

In the wake of this rant, Berger freaks out a bit, and gets the heck away from Carrie as soon as he possibly can, leaving her (and me) sad. But then... he comes back at the end of the episode, making her (and me) happy. He tells her that even though the heaviness of their last conversation shook him up a bit, "maybe we should go out on a date before we break up." YES. I am SO in favor of that. See you in Season Six, Berger! Be sure to bring your awesome eyebrows and self-deprecating, sarcastic sense of humor with you, s'il vous plait!

Okay, so, BERGER. Goody! Do the other ladies have anything quite as fun happening in their lives, you ask? Hmmmm. Not really. Though much of interest, to be sure. Miranda is, once again, in a confusing place when it comes to Steve, as she has, once again, slept with him while they are actually not a couple. Of course she has.

Scared witless by said sleeping-with and what it might mean, Miranda is delighted that Bitsy and Bobby's wedding in the Hamptons provides an excuse for skipping town and putting off dealing with the "her-and-Steve-what-the-hell" situation for a bit. (Miranda, to Carrie, as they make the trip out of New York: "I'm a fucking fugitive. Literally.")

While at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding, Miranda misses Steve, and decides to call him to tell him about said missing. Good, this seems like progress! Though of course, his voicemail picks up, and she is too chicken to leave him a message. Arrrrrrrgh! (Head and Desk gently, sorrowfully embrace, too exhausted by this point for violence.)

Samantha, meanwhile, has conned her very own ex, the slimy Richard, into loaning her his beach house in the Hamptons for the weekend, so that she and the ladies will have somewhere fun to stay while attending Bitsy and Bobby's wedding. Richard's house is opulently beautiful, if sadly marred by the presence of what Sam calls his "party-crashing pussy posse"--a group of twenty-something gals wearing microscopic bikinis at all times, whom Richard has apparently given carte blanche to, to stay at his abode any old time. [Blogger remembers, not that she had forgotten, that Richard is a creep, and that she never liked him.]

Samantha had thought that she was completely past the pain of her relationship with/breakup from Richard, but seeing these lithe young things (and being thus reminding of Richard's taste for lithe young things specifically, and for lots of women generally) vamping around the place... shall we say, reopens old wounds? Reopens them to the point where she ends up smashing one of his beautiful glass windows, when she hurls a melon at one of these young lasses. Yikes! Clean up in Aisle... Hamptons!

Charlotte, meanwhile, is simultaneously 1) endlessly nitpicking about/criticizing every aspect of her new quasi-boyfriend Harry's body, style, way of eating, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, and 2) falling in love with him, because, despite said alleged "vulgarity," he is kind and funny and just generally awesome. (My heart belongs to Jack Berger at this point in SATC Time, Harry, but please consider yourself adding to the short, distinguished list of "Men in the SATC Verse Who Are Actually Nice, and Seem Like Someone You'd Actually Be Really Glad to Find Yourself/One of Your Friends Dating.")

The spanner in the works arises (because you knew there would be one, did you not, dear readers?) in that Harry (as we are reminded all the bloody time) is Jewish, and is firmly committed to marrying a Jewish gal. And Charlotte, as we know, is the most shiksa-ish of all the shiksas. Hmmmm. Tricky. What to do...?

There is also a brief, shadowy Stanford and Marcus subplot in this episode (yay! Stanford and Marcus!) Carrie is a leetle jealous of Stanford, because while she and all of her friends have spent pretty much their entire lives looking for the perfect relationship with the perfect guy, Stanford seems to have actually found such a guy/relationship. (With the added bonus that Marcus is, shall we say, not unpleasing to the eye?)

Of course, as ever when a character is proclaimed to have the "perfect" life in the world of SATC, it is quickly made evident that all is most certainly not perfect--e.g., Stanford: "Marcus and I haven't had sex since we bought the Cynthia Rowley china." Okay, so, bummer on the intimate contact front, but on the plus side... Cynthia Rowley china! Also on the plus side, the last we see of those two lovebirds in the episode, they are dancing at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding, cracking each other up, and generally looking like a happy couple (whatever rough patch they may be making their way through at the moment.) Sniffle. Stay happy, you two! Much like Carrie, I do not know how many more breakups I can stand!

The Analysis:

"Let Us Try, with Mixed Success, to Conceal Our Lead Actress' Pregnancy By Putting Her in a Crazzzzzzy, But Also Fabulous, Dress" Watch
: So by this point in Season Five, SJP was quite pregnant with her first youngster (which explains why Season Five was so darned short... oh, babies! You are so cute, except when you are messing with my tee-vee programs, or my long plane flights!) I know the dress that The Amazing Pat Field slapped her into for the climatic scene at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding was somewhat controversial in terms of whether or not it actually concealed Parker's pregnancy (one), and whether or not it was a pretty dress (two)--but personally, I love it. I would totally wear it, meself, except for the fact that it would doubtless make me look pregnant, which I, notably, am not. (Unless my uterus has been making some serious plans without me, which, happily, it usually does not.)

A Random Note About Nathan Lane Which I Am Going to Mention for No Particular Reason Except That I Want To Watch: As I have mentioned once or twice on this here blog, I am a proud native of the great state of New Jersey--which meant that, during my and my sister's youth, we sometimes got to do things like go into New York City for school field trips. (Thank you, largesse of the pre-Chris-Christie NJ school system/the unfailing generosity of my parents!)

Anyway, after one of said field trips to see a Broadway show, lo these many years ago, my sister came back raving about this singer/actor dude she'd seen, and about how amazing and funny and great he was, and how she was sure that one day he'd be a Big Bloody Deal. Said dude was, of course, one Nathan Lane by name--already a theater muckety-muck, but unknown to TV or film at that point in time. Good eye, my sister's got! It always gave us a rather proprietary feeling about him and his career--we knew and loved him before the masses jumped on board the Lane Express. Glad you made good, Nathan L.!

People of Color Watch: The singer at Bobby and Bitsy's wedding is African-American. She has a gorgeous voice which I very much admire. She is wearing a lovely, glamorous gown which I also very much admire. She... is the only person of color at Bitsy and Bobby's HUGE soiree. Good to know that the Hamptons are as lily-white as NYC is in the SATC universe, anyway! Consistency!

LGBT Folks Watch: NATHAN BLOODY LANE. Oh, and Stanford and Marcus, whom I also love. They all look very dashing/charming in their wedding attire, and I am glad to see Stanford and Marcus given some more screen time as a lovely, functional, actually quite realistic couple. We have come along way since Stanford was only allowed to have weird, one-episode-long romances with strange doll collectors. Hooray for progress!

"I Think You Might Have Sold This One a Little Short": Friends' Opinions of One's Significant Other Being Both Delightfully Clear-Sighted, and Decidedly Important, Watch: So when Charlotte admits to her friends that she is kind of dating Harry, she says many a dismissive thing about him--about how short and unattractive he is, about how vulgar and messy he is (lovely!)--but when her friends actually meet him, and find out charming he really is, they give Charlotte a (much-deserved, in your humble blogger's opinion) kick in the pants, about having focused more on the fact that Harry is, say, bald than on the fact that he is, in fact, delightful. Thank you, Miss York's friends, for being more clear-sighted about What Really Matters and Who is Really Good for You than young Miss York herself is!

I appreciate the little shout-out here to the fact that one's friends are usually a pretty good barometer of whether or not one is making Good Dating Decisions (GDD? Or is that too much like G-D?)--if they hate the person in question (cough, Big, cough), then that is an excellent, bright, shining red flag of danger and trouble ahead--and if they like them, perhaps it is a sign that you should stop being a shallow jerk, who cares more about the shirt this person is wearing than she does about the actual mind, heart, and spirit contained within said shirt (cough, Charlotte, cough.) Well done, friends!

"I Think I'm Falling In Love with You": Charlotte FINALLY Gets Over Her Pretty Boy Issues Watch: You may recall that this series began (lo these many, many years/months ago, depending on whether we are talking real time, or BOCS time), with Charlotte's ideal man being characterized by the possession of the holy trinity of "looks, manners, and money." So--not shallow at all, then!

Ever since we learned that these (unpleasantly narrow, shallow criteria) guided Miss York's dating life, we started to see her verrrrrry slllllowwwwwly shedding said criteria. Before marrying Trey, she dated a lot of gents who were handsome, polished, and wealthy--and yet total creeps, nonetheless. In marrying Trey, she successfully nabbed someone who was polite, rich, and pleasing to the eye--and with whom, despite Trey's fundamental decency, she was pretty unrelentingly miserable.

And with Harry, she is finally with someone who (although obviously very well-off) is not conventionally handsome, and certainly not conventionally posh and polished. And she is actually falling in love with him, even though he doesn't look the way she thinks he should look, or act the way she thinks he should act. Turns out, the quality of the person is more important than the quality of the clothing or of the table manners or of the bone structure! It took us/Charlotte Y. five seasons to get here... but here we finally are. SUCCESS.

Except... There is Still Lots of Creepy Stuff Happening Around the Fact that Harry is Jewish and How That is Talked About Watch: Okay, so, I guess I can't call the Harry plot line a total win, even though he is delightful, and it is nice to actually see Charlotte happy/finally burst out of her insanely shallow "what I am looking for in a fella is WEALTHY PRETTINESS" bubble. Because one of the big themes in this episode is that Charlotte is totally repulsed by how hairy Harry's body is (writers, your pun license? You will lose it for good the next time you pull a stunt like that. Consider yourself warned.) She actually persuades him to get his back waxed, so hairy is it. (About which... yeouch!)

And, forgive me, but something in the "let us continually harp on Harry's Jewishness, while also highlighting the fact that he has this 'animalistic' body" thing makes me uneasy. Perhaps it's because, in anti-Semitic cartoons and images, Jewish men are often represented as extremely hairy beast-like creatures? Something for us to think about/be made quasi-nauseous by?

"No, I Look Good Standing Next To It": My Imaginary Boyfriend Jack Berger Mocking Tropes of Conventional Masculinity, Just to Make Me Love Him More Watch: The first thing we see Berger do in this episode is to roar up on a motorcycle, clad in black leather. I am not objecting to this, on the one hand--but on the other hand--please. Why not just have him have a phallic-like gun strapped to his thigh, and have done with it? Helloooooo, images of conventional hypermasculinity! Nice to see you again/to never to be able to quite escape you!

Happily, the first thing we hear Berger say in this episode is something self-deprecating about how ludicrous it is for him to be running around the Hamptons on a motorcycle, clad in black leather, like the hero of a B-grade action movie. When Carrie tries to compliment him on how good he looks on his silly motorcycle, he responds with the line from my title above. He admits that he likes the appearance of being all tough and manly--but that in actuality, he is scared out of his senses trying to ride the darned thing, and bought it as a hypermacho over-reaction to his depressing breakup. And somewhere out there... a feminist heart beat a bit faster. (That is to say... in my house/in me.)

Unlike Big, who, throughout the series, unironically swaggers with outward, obvious symbols of masculine power (the suits, the cigars, the big, expensive limousine, the conspicuous displays of wealth, the endless parade of interchangeable model girlfriends, etc., etc.), Berger--though not entirely immune to the lures of hypermasculinity--is at least aware that it is pretty silly for a slight, neurotic writer to be riding around on a Harley. And we love us a guy who can acknowledge and mock the sometimes absurd visions of "Manliness-With-A-Capital-M" upheld by our reliably weird culture! Keep up the good work there, Jack B.! And don't hurt yourself!

"No Babies": Samantha Actually Learning to Be a Supportive Friend to Her New-Mother Friend Watch: So much to like in this episode! Maybe seeing Nathan Lane swan around in formal wear has simply washed my brain with so many endorphins that I have been rendered incapable of saying negative things? It seems not unlikely.

One of the arcs of this season which I quite like (which is pleasantly resolved in this episode) centers on Sam's evolving attitude towards Miranda's motherhood. As you may recall, at the beginning of the season, Sam was all "get that boring baby, and your boring talk about motherhood out of my face. I do not care about your mother-ly problems, and having to walk next to a strolller is annoying." She starts to mellow a bit as the season progresses, however, finally agreeing to try to do nice things for Miranda, and to actually spend some time with her and her youngster.

And by this episode, the mellowing process is finally completed. At the beginning of this episode, Sam is still on her "I do not want your baby crashing my fancy-pants beach house/party"--but by the end of it, we see her dancing at Bitsy and Bobby's wedding with Miranda and wee baby Brady. Awwww. Not wanting youngsters yourself, or being terribly fond of them, as a rule? Fine. Being mean to your friends who are mothers, and curling your lip every time one of their babies comes into your line of sight? Not fine. And happily, Ms. Jones seems to be well and truly over all of that, as we bring Season Five to a close. Excellent!

"There's My Girl... Whom I Love": Love Comes in Many Forms, and Is Sometimes More Complicated than Specific Sexual Categories Allow For, Who Bloody Knew Watch: As you may have gathered from my summary, this episode begins by making fun of the very notion of Bobby's pending marriage/bride. ("Bitsy von Muffling," seriously? Why not just call her "Loopy von Crazypants" and have done with it? Though still... Bitsy is a pretty great name for a charmingly off-kilter socialite, I will concede.)

But as the episode progresses, we start wading into deeper, and rather more interesting, waters. It is pretty darned clear that Bobby is still sexually interested in men (as his leering over Marcus in a bathing suit attests)--yet if Bitsy and Bobby are to be believed, they are sleeping together, and quite happy to be doing so. Is this all theater, designed to look their marriage look more conventional? Maybe. Or maybe it's true. We leave the episode not knowing... and ultimately, with the episode stressing that that is not the most important thing. Bitsy and Bobby are in love, are soulmates, want to be together... and how, exactly, they're arranging their sexual lives--their business.

Huh. That... actually seems quite positive! Well done, episode! And congratulations, Bitsy and Bobby--please feel free to invite me over for brunch at your posh house in the Hamptons any old time, I bet that would be fun! I'll bring the cravats!

Notable Quotables: Carrie's voiceover, as she dances with Berger (YOU LUCKY LADY, YOU) at the end of the episode: "Some people are settling down. Some people are settling. And some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies." If by "butterflies," you mean getting to eat lots of wedding cake, and to dance with adorable writers, while wearing cool sixties-style dresses... then I am suddenly SO pro-butterfly!

Next Up...?:
We take stock of Season Five! Excellent. What made your humble blogger happy? (Hint: HATS, and Jack Berger.) What made your humble blogger unhappy? (Hint: Quasi anti-Semitism, and Big.) And of course... much, much more!

Friday, October 21

Season Five, Episode Seven: The Big Journey

The Summary:

Welcome, my friends, to yet another episode in which I am compelled, against my will, to talk about Big. Le. Sigh. But his presence in this episode is not toooo terribly annoying, so... I'll take it! I will thank heavens for small mercies! I will count my blessings! And so on, and so forth.

Okay, so, Carrie hasn't had partnered sex in quite some time, and is feeling this rather acutely. (She tells the ladies, in more detail than seems quite... legal in a public venue, that she has been having dreams about running up to complete strangers and imploring them to do various things to her. I am sure the family with kids sitting at the next table was glad to know this information!) Given that her book tour (ooooooh, fannnnncy) will shortly be taking her to California, she has decided that this particular itch can productively be scratched by... you guessed it... the newly West Coast-ed Big. I see.

Carrie insists to her skeptical friends that she is now entirely devoid of any real feelings for Big, and as such can safely bed him without dire emotional consequences to herself. And for once... she is actually right! She can, and she does! Who knew!

Granted, there are some bumps along the road to said encounter (of course there are.) She initially thinks she won't end up calling Big when she gets to Cali, after all, because she has suddenly developed an unsightly blemish. (But then... it disappears!) And then she thinks that the usually-obliging Big will not, well, oblige, since he's actually read her book, and as such has also actually reckoned for the first time with how absolutely crappy he was to her when they were dating, and how much he hurt her through said crappiness. Scruples about what sleeping with him again might do to Carrie's emotional life--Big has them. (But then... they disappear!)

So Carrie--has slept with Big. Chris Noth--has presumably gone out and bought himself a nice new boat with the proceeds of those few minutes of screen time. What of the other ladies, you ask? Miranda... has literally nothing going on. Nada. Nary a thing. She is still a lawyer, still a mother, still exists in time and space. But other than that... we know nothing. Fair enough! Hope all is well with you, Mistress Hobbes! At least we have no evidence to the contrary...?

Not much of interest going on with young Ms. Samantha Jones, either. She is bored with New York, and feeling a little midlife-crisis-y. To shake things up, she decides to accompany Carrie to California. She doesn't really have a great time. Bummer. Except that that makes her return to her actual life in New York with something resembling appreciation and gratitude. Okay! That's better!

I guess Charlotte's plot line is the most interesting of the lot this episode (defining, of course, the word "interesting" rather loosely). Interesting does not mean, I hasten to add, that it is not also MADLY predictable from word one--as the dear gentlemen of MST3K once said, of a particularly obvious "reveal" at the end of a particularly dopey horror movie, "even dead people know what's going to happen!"

So Charlotte begins this episode by loudly proclaiming that for women, emotions are inextricably intertwined with sex--that they have to have a genuine emotional investment in a bloke before they sleep with him. She also loudly proclaims that she does not like/has no emotional investment in her divorce lawyer, Harry. Doesn't like him on the one hand--staunchly insisting women need to feel for in order to sleep with on the other. Can you see where this might be headed, dear readers...?

If you answered... with Charlotte sleeping with Harry, then consider yourself a winner! Give yourself whatever you feel is the appropriate number of stars! Yup, in a shocking twist, just as Charlotte was insisting that she would never get involved in an emotion-free sexual encounter, because this is something that women never do (even though... she is friends with Samantha...?)--she gets involved in an emotion-free sexual encounter! You shock me!

Said encounter (and her desire to have other such encounters with Harry in future) leads her to seek out a tutorial from Anthony about how to successfully conduct such assignations. And surprise, surprise, in seeking to follow Anthony's advice, Charlotte finds that she... is not very good at acting like Anthony, after all! (But they are so similar in their personalities, tastes, attitudes, and feelings about love, sex, and courtship! Oh, wait...)

Plus, turns out--Harry is really sweet, and obviously actually cares about her. Hmmmm. Any guesses about where THAT might go? All together now: "Even dead people know what's going to happen!"

The Analysis:

LGBT Folks Watch:
Anthony--just for something new and different! He is amusing in the few scenes that they give him, as per ever. And I am glad to see an actual gay, recurring character, even if he is something (okay, a lot-ing) of a raging stereotype of What Gay Men Are Like. (Outrageous buddy to uptight straight girl? Check! Obsessive interest in both fashion and anonymous sex--not necessarily in that order? Check!) Ah well. He at least reminds us that The Gays do, indeed, exist... which the show is all too often in danger of forgetting. So... success? A little bit...?

"He's Sweaty and Pushy": Continuing Questionable Language About Our Lone Jewish Character Watch: So on the plus side, Harry is... still around! Yay, Harry! Unlike 98 percent of the gents in the series, Harry is a nice guy, who seems like someone you would actually want to know, in real life. (Unlike pretty much all of Sam's conquests, and certain BIGS who shall remain nameless.)

On the minus side, I am still creeped out by how he is talked about here--Charlotte stresses over and over that he is not the kind of guy she wants to date because "he's not very attractive"--because he's all sweaty and pushy and vulgar. Given that these adjectives/ideas all too powerfully echo long-standing, pernicious stereotypes about The Jews, and Harry is, as we are oft reminded, one of the Chosen People... this makes me more than a leetle uncomfortable. And we haven't even gotten to the extended joke about how "hairy" Harry is yet... brace yourselves for that sucker anon!

"Are We the New Bachelors?": Some Rubbish About the Allegedly Shocking Fact That Women Like Drinking and Sex Watch: So the overarching frame for this episode is Carrie's question of whether or not single women of the early 21st century are "the new bachelors." (Answer: No. Moving on!) Carrie is suddenly struck by the fact that some women... are happily single and resistant to the idea of commitment! That some women... have sex outside of long or short-term relationships! That some women... enjoy cocktails! Therefore... they are just like Hugh Hefner, circa 1962, I guess? Forgive me for thinking this is essentially balderdash. Actually, no, it's not even essentially balderdash, but rather is straight-up, no-holds-barred balderdash! And also something that Helen Gurley Brown (God rest her wacky soul) realized back when it actually was 1962. For goodness sakes, people.

Notable Quotables: Samantha, on how handling a midlife crisis is tricky for her: "I already fuck younger guys. And I don't want a sports car."

Next Up...?:
Our season finale ("I Love a Charade," by name) if you can believe it! We have arrived at the very end of this very short season! And there are very fun things for us to very carefully consider, I, um, verily say unto you! (These sentences brought to you by the word/by variants of "very.") Sarah Jessica Parker is by now clearly pregnant, but Carrie Bradshaw is not, and is very excited to once again run into... the dashing Jack Berger. (Your humble blogger is very excited about this, as well. Yayyyy! Jack Berger!) She runs into him in the Hamptons, where Samantha is throwing a party at Richard's house (???), Charlotte is realizing that she actually likes Harry, despite his (sigh) alleged vulgarity and physical unattractiveness, and Miranda is once again ambiguously, quasi-romantically involved with Steve. Oh, and Nathan Bloody Lane is around, too. Hooray! Lane-ness!

Friday, October 7

Season Five, Episode Six: Critical Condition

The Summary:

Are you ready to listen to Carrie whine, even though her book got a positive review in the New Bloody York Times? Are you prepared to behold some truly questionable representations of Jewish men? Are you poised to have Samantha provide vibrator reviews to the greater female population of New York? Why, isn't it just your lucky day, then, because we are about to grapple with all of those things! Hooray!

So, yes, to Carrie. Her book is now published, and has 1) been reviewed in the Times, by muckety-muck book reviewer Michiko Kakutani, no less, and 2) gets quite a nice review from said prestigious publication/said rigorous reviewer. Hooray!

Except, of course, this being Carrie, she has found something negative to narrowly and self-destructively focus on, even in this sea of positivity. (Le sigh.) Said element being one sentence in the review, in which Kakutani says that, in Carrie's book, "the men are disposable." Carrie... freaks out about this line (even though... it is the only even quasi-negative line in the whole darned thing. Of course she does.)

Her freak-out is exacerbated/deepened when she meets Nina, the lass who dated Aidan right after he and Carrie broke up. When Nina informs Carrie that she was Aidan's first post-Carrie girlfriend, she makes a weird face, which seems to indicate to Carrie that 1) said dating was kinda rough, and 2) it was the break-up with Carrie which had made said dating kinda rough. I see.

So Carrie spends the whole episode obsessing about what Nina/the world in general is thinking about her former relationship with Aidan--do people think that she cruelly dumped Aidan? Does Aidan think that she cruelly dumped Aidan? Obsess, obsess, obsess, etc., etc., etc.

After all of her friends try (unsuccessfully) to pull Carrie off of this particular obsessive ledge, Carrie finally manages to pull herself off of it, realizing (after she talks to Nina about it all, and realizes that Nina doesn't actually care about all of this nearly as much as Carrie does (you shock me). Perhaps the whole world isn't actually talking about Carrie's former romantic relationships! And perhaps, even if they are, she shouldn't care, because, in the end, it's her own assessment of her own conduct which really matters. And it took us thirty minutes to get here...?

Miranda, meanwhile, is having more/actual/real/substantive problems, in that she is finding it really hard and tiring to care for wee baby Brady, and run around being a high-powered lawyer, as well. [Blogger pauses for the obligatory "and she has a nanny to help her with said baby care/running around" moment, and then moves on.] Motherhood, it turns out, is a wee bit more stressful than the Hallmark cards would have us believe! (Miranda, on Brady: "This thirteen pound meatloaf is pushing me over the edge!")

Miranda is getting no sleep, feels gross since she barely has time to shower and suddenly seems to be covered in various kinds of Baby Effluvia all the time, and, perhaps, worst of all, is picking up distinctive "who cares about your silly baby troubles?" vibes from Samantha. Oh dear.

Tearily confessing to Carrie that Sam's "yawn, don't want to talk about babies or ask you anything about your life as a mother" attitude is really upsetting her prompts Carrie to tell Sam to get her Friendship Butt in gear, and ask Miranda a friendly question or two about motherhood every now and again. This... only seems appropriate!

Sam does even better than this, however (good lass!), letting Miranda have her hair-cutting appointment at a fancy-pants hair salon, while she herself babysits Young Master B. Miranda: really enjoys getting to get pampered and taken care of for awhile, and getting to swan home with a pretty new haircut. Sam: manages baby-sitting just fine, once she learns that putting her newly-purchased vibrator in Brady's crib keeps him from crying. Yup, you read that right. This stuff: it cannot be made up!

There is also a subplot in Miranda's storyline about her neighbor, Kendall, a fellow mother who eventually takes Miranda under her wing, and offers the flustered, amateur mummy Miranda some baby-grappling-with advice, and sympathizes with her "none of my friends have kids, so don't they get this at all" plight. (Kendall: "If they don't have kids, they don't have a clue.") No, but they do have vibrators, and doesn't that seem to come in handy?

Okay, so, to recap: Carrie--self-obsessed and narcissistic, as per usual. Miranda: still tired, but now in possession of a nice haircut. Sam: improving on the "being a good friend to Miranda" front--if also now short one vibrator. What of Charlotte, then, you ask? She is digging into her divorce proceedings in earnest, and (surprise, surprise) her milquetoast-y soon-to-be-ex is leaving everything to his overbearing/insufferable mother, Bunny. And Bunny is, true to form, being rather unpleasant about it all. Oh, Bunny. How I do admire your nasty spirit, and all of the fun, preppy bows which you insist on cramming into your hair!

Since Bunny is so harsh, Charlotte decides that she needs a really great, ruthless lawyer to handle her case. She tries to go to this WASP-y, pretty boy type (sorry, sir, but that is probably the exact description which they gave to the casting director), but is so distracted by his beauty, and so determined to impress him with how nice and sweet she is, that the (pretty) gent is, she feels, a bad choice to handle her (ugly) divorce.

Happily, the WASP-y, pretty boy type has a partner at his law firm, who is a bald, vulgar, pushy Jew (so, not stereotypical at all) named Harry Goldenblatt. Charlotte does not find Harry at all pretty, and as such is totally comfortable being unpleasant, and shit-talking Bunny in front of him. And so... we have a lawyer! (And some unpleasant Jewish stereotypes, to boot! It's a twofer!)

Harry (combative follower of the Torah that he is) is a very good lawyer, it turns out (please pull out your omnipresent pen and paper, and scrawl down the following: "Jewish folks--not at all genteel or pleasing to the eye, but super, super smart and book-learned, nonetheless"), and that fact, combined with the fact that Charlotte's soon-to-be-ex-hubby actually steps up to the bloody plate for once, and tells his lawyers to give Charlotte whatever she wants, means that... Charlotte gets what she wants, which is ownership of her apartment. Hooray! She tries to end things on a forgiving, not entirely ugly note with Bunny, but Bunny is having none of it. Ah well. Buh-bye, Bunny! I will miss your wacky hairbows, and your venomous tongue!

Oh, and there is also a Stanford suboplot in this episode. (Yay! Stanford!) Now that he actually has a nice boyfriend (yay! Nice boyfriend!), he wants to talk to Carrie about said boyfriend, and find out more about what Carrie thinks of him. Carrie is, predictably, too self-obsessed to be bothered, which Stanford actually calls her out on for once, noting that he's done nothing but listen to her obsess about boys since... ever, and now, it's his turn. He gets a few sentences out of Carrie about Marcus before it is right back to her and her stuff. Le sigh. Ah well. For what it's worth, Stanford, I think Marcus is great, and that y'all are adorable together. As the pushy, vulgar Jews say--mazel tov to you both!

The Analysis:

People of Color Watch:
And in this episode we have... two! Well, one and a half, really. Michiko Kakutani is never physically present (wouldn't that have been an awesome cameo, though?), but is relentlessly and unendingly referred to. Her name is usually mocked during said references. I see.

Kendall, Miranda's wise-mother neighbor, is African-American. (And is played by Lisa Gay Hamilton, who is awesome, and who I hope got paid reeeeally well for doing this.) I have this eerie feeling, as I am about to write about Kendall, that I have just said all the stuff that I am about to say before--about how here we have an African-American female character, whose primary (if not sole) purpose is to help to solve our white heroine's problems, and to make her feel better about herself and her life... and then to disappear back into the ether, like the magical fairy of White Lady Happiness Delivery that she is. Hmmm. I wonder why I feel like I just said all that stuff. Oh right! Because I did just say all that stuff! I comprehend it now!

LGBT Folks Watch: Stanford and Marcus. We see Marcus strutting his stuff as a dancer at one point, and he is wearing a black tank top as he does so. This, I endorse.

More Acknowledgment That Motherhood is Actually Kinda Hard! Excellent! Watch:
As I have, indeed, done throughout Season 5 to date, I do continue to appreciate what the show is doing with Miranda's journey into motherhood here... in that they are showing that it is, indeed, a journey, and something of a bumpy one. Miranda is exhausted, struggling to find a balance between home and work, staggered by the physical demands (and some of the physical ickinesses) of motherhood... this is a "warts and all" portrait, to be sure, and I do appreciate seeing that on the small screen.

Because for the most part (though this is starting to change, a little), visions of parenthood on tee-vee tend to be pretty glossy--if there are infants around, they always seem to calm, clean, and in good humor. (Which, happily, they sometimes are... but unhappily, sometimes, like us all, they are not.) And even if sitcom parents proclaim themselves to be frazzled, they almost never look frazzled--they usually have not a sitcom hair out of place, nor a sitcom outfit sullied by anything so unphotogenic as Baby Messes.

By contrast, when Miranda proclaims that she hasn't showered in days, and that all her "clothes smell like barf," you believe her. (And bless Cynthia Nixon's lack of actorly vanity for making it look like those statements are both actually true.) Miranda is deeply tired, haunted by the sense that she is somehow falling short at work or at home (or worst of all, both), and worried that motherhood is going to somehow mess up/permanently change and undermine her friendships. I would imagine that all of these are things which many women who are new moms might well experience/worry about/find relatable... and bless the writers for injecting this vein of realism into the mix. I love that they didn't make Miranda's new mom life all shiny and seamless and problem-free (though glad that they also let her have a nice haircut, and got her friendship with Sam back on track... this is only humane!)

And Suddenly, We Have Weird Representations of The Chosen People To Talk About Watch: Kind of weird that we now have to talk about unpleasant stereotyping of Jewish folks, on a show which has several Jewish writers... but then, we've long been talking about weird stereotyping of women and The Gays, on a writing staff comprised entirely of women and The Gays, so... perhaps this is not so unexpected, after all!

So, on the plus side, Harry is, from the beginning, very clearly depicted as a mensch. (I may be a total shiksa, but my grandpa learned Yiddish from his neighbors as a wee lad growing up in Yonkers... so the words--I will splash them about, my undisputed WASP-y-ness be damned!) He's clearly a man of integrity and intelligence, who is very good at his job, and is a kind, thoughtful person, to boot. All to the good.

HOWEVER. In the first scene we see him in, he is intrusive, loud, pushy, and vulgar (one of the first things we see him do is spit part of a half-eaten bagel out, in the middle of his partner's office. Charming!) And, I dunno, something in the whole "loud, mannerless, crass Jew" thing... does not sit quite right with me! Ah well. We shall have opportunity to judge this strain more anon, as Harry... he shall surely be back! (And it is nice to have another nice man about the place, even if he does trail a whole train of Jewish stereotypes along with him!)

Notable Quotables:
Miranda on Baby Boy Brady: "I'm doing everything I can, but I can't please him! If he was 35, this is when we would break up!"

Sensible Samantha to Coocoo Carrie, as CC is obsessing about what people may or may not think of her: "Honey, you have to let it go! If I worried about what every bitch in New York was saying about me, I'd never leave the house."

Samantha, trying to return her defective vibrator at Sharper Image, to a salesman who is insisting that it is, in fact, a neck massager: "Fine, I'd like to return this 'neck massager.' "

Salesman: "What's wrong with it?"

Samantha: "It failed to get me off."

Next Up...?: "The Big Journey," which, as, whenever we use the word "big" in this series/on this blog does, indeed, refer to... Big. Le sigh. Ah well. I suppose I ought not to begrudge Chris Noth his new boathouse, or whatever it is that he does with all of his SATC cash. Maybe he donates it all to charity? Ooooh, let's pretend that that's true! In addition to all the Big stuff, there are mercifully some other subplots about Sam's midlife crisis, and Charlotte's new fling to distract us. Good, I'll take whatever non-Big stuff I can get!!!