Sex and The City And I Episode 2: Models and Mortals

Episode 2: Models and Mortals
Episode 2 and the show hasn’t quite hit its stride, but it marches confidently forwards. What I like about Sex and The City, what I like about a lot of shows from that era, is how they straddle the line between problematic and progressive. What’s scary about these shows, is that 21 years later, they remain sharply relevant instead of hopelessly outdated.
This episode might fall closer to the outdated side of the scale though.
It begins with Miranda on a dinner party date, that’s seemingly going very well. This scene gives us the first line by a black character in the show Deanne, a married friend of Miranda’s date says “Oh we won’t go there! Montgomery Clift”. The crux of the episode is soon revealed, Miranda’s date Nick Something (you can’t really expect me to remember the name of the one shot guys) is a serial modelizer, a guy who dates models almost exclusively.
Cue a montage of the exact same conversation around the dinner table with a model in place of Miranda, except everyone sounds more bored and the models don’t seem to able to come up with a coherent answer to the ice breaker question: “Old movie stars you’d have liked to fuck when they were young” (Julianne Moore, by the way)
Cut to the girls, well, shit talking models as well as themselves. My first thought was “how unfemenist”, but honestly probably more than a little accurate, and probably considered very feminist at the time. The girls talk about their insecurities and complain about the pressures of living up to the unattainable unrealistic standards of beauty. Loses some points for nor mentioning airbrushing or lighting, i.e. the show treats the models as the source of the unrealistic standards of beauty and assumes that they do have the impossible looks they don on the cover of Glamour, instead of what we now know, that they too are victims and that no magazine, or billboard in the history of advertisement has shown a real human that exists.

Carrie is holding up a copy of Glamour Magazine. Charlotte is looking directly at the cover.
The Culprit

Samantha, has the opposite problem. She loves the way she looks, she believes she’s as beautiful as any model, she just happens to work for a living and so she considers herself “a model who’s taking the high road”. So she doesn’t hate models because they’re beautiful, she resents them because they don’t work for a living, which, brings to mind a conversation about the meaning of labour, as 4 women who don’t necessarily make anything, but instead provide a variety of services. Is Art Dealership, Journalism, Public Relations, and Legal Representation that much different than modelling? Work is work. But I guess, the show’s not called Work and The City.
The story moves on, there’s interviews with models and modelizers, there’s Stanford (see I learned his name) slobbering over his client, a male mode who he claims is too gorgeous to be straight which, fair, but who we’ll learn is too dumb to be gay (it’s well known fact that gays didn’t gain the right to be dumb until the early to late 2010s). There’s the rich boy artist modelizer who Carrie wonders how he affords to live in SoHo despite never selling a single painting (a trust fund is how Carrie). Who reveals to her that he videotapes all his sexual encounters and plays them back in a Videodromeesque mesh of old CRTs.
After the girls all go to a Fashion Runway show, where Stanford, his boytoy, and the aforementioned modelizers are also in attendance. Mr Big, who I might or might not find incredibly charming despite him also being prime guillotine material shows up to throw Carrie for a Fashion Loop. In the same interaction he tells her he’s read her column, calls it “cute”, asks her where she works, refuses a sweet potato puff, and chimes in on the topic du semaine. According to him guys who date models are very lucky and just happen to appreciate extreme beauty. Carrie challenges that, and his question of “is there anything wrong with that?”, however ineffectively.

This scene really threw me for a loop. I’ve always considered Carrie to be an incredibly confident character. Not overconfident, rather, very knowledgeable of her strength and limitations and in that way, not unflappable, but also not very easily flapped. So at first I thought the way Carrie became an absolute mess, just a complete collapsing scaffold, whenever Mr. Big was involved was a result of early show not yet cemented characterisation. But no, actually, that’s just the effect he has on her. He’s her cryptonite… and that’s… good?
Romance is weeeird. I guess it’s part of the central premise of this show and also a lot of television since television was invented. Somehow we want someone who at first makes us feel like a shambling mess who can’t string a sentence together, but eventually we want them to become someone who strengthens us. On a personal level, this show is also helping me process an interesting evolution I’ve gone through on the last couple months. It seems since I married my wonderful beautiful wife, my interest and attraction to men has increased to a degree that’s statistically significant.
I’m not an evangelist for polyamory, I’ve heard enough horror stories from friends and acquaintances who practice the queer version, and I wouldn’t touch the straight version with a hundred meter stick and a hazmat suit on. However, I must say when it works, it works extremely well, and having one supportive partner to discuss with and explore feeling of changing attractions is a godsend. I’ve long considered myself homoflexible, attracted primarily to other women, but occasionally to men and people of other genders as well. Am I now becoming a full fledged bisexual… likely not. Most of the men on Sex and The City I forget nearly as soon as they leave the screen if not before. But Mr Big (whom I’m aware has an actual name that I’m also helpless to remember)… what can I say, it works for me.
Ehem…
Back to the episode.
The knot is tied finally with Carrie going home with the incredibly dumb male model and not having sex just talking, and Samantha going home with the videotaping modelizer whom he has to ask to turn on the camera since, as he says, he only tapes models. He says he’ll make an exception and this pleases her. The next morning Stanford finds out his boytoy spend the night at Carrie’s and is relieved to learn they didn’t have sex, to which he says “I knew he was gay”, no honey.
At the cafe as Carrie’s putting the finishing touches on her column, Mr Big walks in, says he can’t stay but that he must give her his latest take on her work before it goes to publication: “First of all, well there are so many goddamn gorgeous women out there in this city. But the thing is, after a while you just wanna be with the one that makes you laugh, you know what I mean?”
Yes, I do know what you mean, if what you mean is that you just flirted with Carrie by calling her not gorgeous and that the fact that I did not realise this until know means you’ve actually mastered the forbidden technique that so many dumbasses have crashed and burn with, you negged her, you bastard! He leaves hurriedly and the one who laughs is Carrie. The episode closes with her last remark on one of New Yorker’s favourite topics of conversation, rent controlled apartments. Which if you want my take on it, my aunt has one and unfortunately I’m sure there’s several other people in line to inherit it before I do.
Oh, and Miranda goes on another date with Jiff peanut butter or whatever. If she keeps this up I guess we’ll have to talk about it, but for now. I’m signing off. Until next time…

Sex and The City and I

Episode 1: sex and the city

In 2019, a recently married young woman goes on a road trip to Michigan with her wife. They go to a concert and spend the night in a hotel. The next day, whilst her wife is in the shower, she decides to flip through the channels on the hotel television. She stumbles across an old flame. Sex and the City.

A mere two weeks eve of the 21st anniversary of the revolutionary HBO show, this chance encounter encourages the woman to finally pursue a pet project she’d had in mind the last few years. To watch and review every episode of Sex and the City.

As you might’ve guessed. That woman is none other than yours truly, Aisling Fae. Kicking off what is sure to be an exciting series of Blog Post with this introduction and dive into the first episode, with a little background.

Sex and the City and I go way back, in the mid aughts when edited reruns were on TBS every night, I would watch a few episodes simply because nothing else was on. Mind you this was before I knew I was a girl, let alone a woman. It went into the pile of, not quite guilty pleasures, of shows that I took an odd delight in enjoying because I felt I wasn’t supposed to. When I thought myself a boy I thought myself a sensitive boy, confident enough to enjoy TV made for women. Sex and The City was kept company by Gilmore Girls in the live action end, and all sorts of shows on the animated front: Totally Spies, Cardcaptor Sakura, Corrector Yui, the doll anime whose title I routinely forget. I loved my not quite a secret.

In 2010, in my last summer before moving to the States for University, I was with my group of nerdy male friends trying to find a movie to watch. There was nothing on, I think that movie Nine was playing and I sheepishly suggested it and the least bad choice. A friend suggested Sex and the City 2 as a joke. I protested but couldn’t keep myself from showing a bit of excitement and curiosity. Eventually we all talked ourselves around to actually doing it. Four 18 year old boys and one girl in the making settled in to watch Sex and the City 2.

The movie, as those of you fortunate or unfortunate enough to have seen it, is not very good. Eventually I will have to watch it for this blog, but until then my memory of it is very vague. What I do remember is the confused questioning of my friends as I started talking about the characters, gushing about Charlotte, my favourite and my personal Sexsona, and how I excited I was when Chris Noth, the one and only Mr Big showed up. I also remember my friends favourite scene at the end, when Charlotte and Barry’s babysitter turns out to be a lesbian with a hot girlfriend.

I don’t know if I watched any more of the show during the next 9 years, perhaps a couple times in college, again the edited ones on TBS. The show does come up every once in a while, specially after I came out as a woman, specially after I moved to New York City, where aspiring trans women writers could sometimes be heard talking about wanting to write the Trans Sex and The City. At which point I would chime in and helpfully explain that I’m a Charlotte and that Miranda’s Bi and Steve is a woman (Don’t worry, we’ll get to it).

More recently, as we’re all hit with a phresh wave of 90s nostalgia, and I’m constantly hit with waves of New York Nostalgia, the city I will always be returning to. I started kicking around this idea. To finally watch, the unedited, unbleeped, original version of the show. And what’s more, in what I hope becomes an increasingly more Carrie Bradshaw Esque voice, to review each episode from the point of view of a 2019 once a Midwesterner, then a New Yorker, then a Berliner, then again a Midwesterner trans woman, and all the insight which that lens might bring. Without further ado, episode 1: sex and the city.

As far as pilots go this one is pretty standard. The narrative device of Carrie writing her column as narration is used to it’s full extent and main characters are introduced complete with titles and subtitles. As Carrie interviews them and a variety of presumably one off male characters, The Toxic Bachelor, over the question Why are there so many successful attractive women in New York who are terminally, hopelessly single.

A screenshot of the episode showing the character Charlotte with the caption: "Charlotte York. Art Dealer. Unmarried Woman."
There she is, my girl.

 

Carrie frequently talks to the camera, which I can’t remember if it’s a device that’s kept or dropped (it wasn’t present in the two later season episodes I watched earlier today.) The catalyser for her most recent column the recent London transplantee who promptly fell victim to one of New York’s rich male Toxic Bachelors, is dropped almost immediately as we focus on the 4 main girls griping with the question, can women have sex with men, No, not with a Dildo, Samantha is compelled to clarify. Without emotions.

Lest you think the show is going to be too straight, first the girls celebrate Miranda’s Birthday in a restaurant where a fully made up drag queen with a green wig brings them dessert, and this being New York in the 90s after all, and no self respecting rich female New Yorker is going to be caught dead without a gay best friend. Carrie has one, who’s a recurring character who’s name I’m not going to look up right now, I’m sure I will learn it. She’s having lunch with…Stefan? Who tells her what we’re all thinking right about now, this is a straight person problem. Nevertheless the show is determined to show us how alike we all are by immediately revealing that Stefan too is single and career obsessed, no time for romance.

Carrie carries out an experiment, she has a one afternoon stand with an old ex. Leaves feeling powerful, drops her purse, make-up and condoms fly out. A helpful stranger helps pick them up, I exclaim: Mr Big! Chris Noth’s character is introduced in the very first episode.

He shows up later at the Club “Chaos”, wherein Samantha points him out to Carrie with the incredibly poorly aged line: “He’s the next Donald Trump.” Carrie’s boy toy is there and he deflates all her ego by telling her actually he’s glad she used him and loosed him cause that’s what he wants something casual he then goes on to mac on another woman, a black woman who doesn’t have any lines and it strikes me, no non-white character has had any lines so far…

Samantha crashes and burns trying to hit on Mr Big, Charlotte has an amazing date with an art collector who then shocks her by being brutally honest and telling her she’s very nice, but she doesn’t want to have sex and he NEEDS to have sex, so he’s sharing a cab with her so he can be dropped off at the aforementioned club “”””CHAOS””””.

Finally as Miranda starts to make out with the nerdy Skipper a character and a plot line so uninteresting that I haven’t mentioned it until now. The show ties off the other 3 girls storylines in a non-comedic version of the Seinfeld Gordian knot, where disparate threads come together. Carrie’s is driven home by Mr Big’s chauffeur as she and him talk in the back seat. He tells her she’s never been in love, and when she ask if he has, he answers with a smoothness The Current Donald Trump (oh god) can’t never even dream of achieving “abso-fucking-lutely”. And Samantha, is about to have sex in the apartment of Charlotte’s date, who is by now, so unbelievably horny, he refuses her request to show her the painting with he apparently uses as some sort of bait and switch fishing lure. Credits Roll. Until Next Time.

Daily Ritual Ch 1.

        Rosario came home from work in need of Spiritual Guidance. She came into her room, dropped her backpack on the bed and set out about the summoning. She lit the middle candle of her altar, inviting the all mother, Satan, to watch over her proceedings. Just in case.

        Rosario liked to think of herself as the successor to her aunt Tía Nana, who wasn’t really her aunt but had helped raise her mother. No one else in her direct family was particularly spiritual, though she was sure some of them had gone to Tía Nana, the family Santera, for advice or workings, they would never admit to it.

        There was one difference between her and her aunt though. Rosario didn’t practice Santeria, she didn’t know the first thing about it. What she practised didn’t have a name, chaos magic, maybe, but she loathed most chaos magicians she encountered. She’d cobbled together a practice out of random books she’d read, the internet, her other spiritual friends. And this practice had become super charged when she actually took the plunge and summoned her first demon.

        She was calling to him now, with their usual, daily ritual:

        She took a tiny strip of cardboard, two centimetres high by 7 long. In it she drew a sigil, the calling sign of her demon Plazhol. She rolled the cardboard into a tiny cylinder. Tight but with plenty of space for air to flow through. She picked the dried herbs from their tiny ceramic pots. Taking from the green and the purple, dried flowers. Delicately grinding them in a special herb grinder, etched with the symbols of her practice.

        She took the ground herbs and spread them on a small sheet of wax paper, together with the little cardboard “filter” she’d rolled earlier. And started rolling the wax paper around the herbs, as she did she said her incantation.

        “How do you feel about a lavender joint today, Plaz?”

        And as she finished rolling the joint. Plaz materialised next to her on her bed. He had the appearance of a young tan man. Light hair that looked bleached. Piercings on his eyebrows. Donning a sort of worn green jacket over a black t-shirt.

        “Sounds fresh” he said, rubbing his hands.

        He took the joint from her hands and lit it with a flame he sprout from his finger. He took a puff.

        “Damn, that’s good shit.”

        He coughed.

        “Strong, too, what’d you say was in this?”

        “Lavender” She replied. “a little bit of mint and then a new strain of indica my dealer got. I haven’t even tried it yet.”

        “Well be my guest” the demon said handing the lit joint back to her. She took a couple puffs before handing it back.

        “So, how’s it going today? You need something from me?” Plaz asked her.

        “Actually, yes.”

        “Damn, I was hoping this was going to be just a social call, what is it?”

        “I met someone”

        “Rosy” he said somewhat disapprovingly.

        “It’s different this time!”

        “That’s what you said last time”

        “Well, so what I can’t date people?”

        “You can absolutely date people, but usually, when you tell me, you met someone, you’re not about to date them, you’ve already fucked them and then something has gone awry.”

        “Well not this time, we haven’t had sex at all.”

        “Uh-huh”

        “We only kissed”

        “Yes”

        “And like touched and cuddled”

        “yes”

        “but with clothes on”

        “So what’s so different about this person?”

        Rosario thought about this for a second.

        “Well fae is–”

        “Hold on, Hold ON!” Plaz interrupted her.

        “They’re a faerie?!” He asked, alarmed.

        “No fae just–”

        “Listen to me Rosario and listen to me closely, do not fuck with faeries, literally or figuratively”

        “Fae isn’t–”

        “I’m a demon and I don’t even fuck with faeries, they freak me out. Their fingers, oh god those fingers”

        “Those are just faer pronouns, fae’s human, I mean I’m pretty sure fae’s human.”

        “Huh?”

        “Some people use fae and faer as pronouns, it’s a type of neo-pronouns, we’ve talked about these.”

        “Oh. Ooh.

        He sat down on the bed.

        “Thank Satan.” he said, he took a puff of the joint.

        “It’s cashed.” He said.

        “I’ll roll another one.”

        “Wheeweee”

        He sprawled on her bed.

        “That fucked me up.”

        “You’re such a lightweight.”

        “well, I’m sorry milady, I’m not exactly the demon lord of drugs.”

        “What are you the demon of.”

        “A different addiction, but it’s a secret.”

        “It’s gaming isn’t it? You’re a gamer demon”

        “I will never tell.”

        “How old are you? You’re always saying you’re pretty young.”

        “In demon terms, in human terms I’m ancient. You could not comprehend how long my life has been.”

        “try me”

        “I was old when your pyramids were young.”

        “Giza?”

        “excuse me?”

        “You mean the pyramids at Giza? In Egypt.”

        “sure.”

        “you know there are other pyramids.”

        “yeah? huh, the more you know.”

        “And that’s only 5000 years, that’s not that much. But I don’t even believe you.”

        “Listen didn’t you have something you wanted to ask me?”

        “Now I’m not sure, I thought I was talking to a font of ancient forbidden wisdom, but if you’re from like 300 years ago, I’m not sure you’re the right person.”

        “Well who else you gonna ask?” He said with a smirk.

        “Good point.”

        “And I’m not 300 years old.”

        “Sure.”

        “I’m much older, aeons older I’ve seen civiliz–”

        “Yeah yeah.”

        She plopped on the bed next to him, lit joint number 2.

        “I made this one a little lighter for your sake.” she said, handing him the lit doobie.

        “Thanks.”

        “I just. Want this to go well, you know?”

        “of course.”

        “And fae’s so cool. Fae’s in a band!”

        “You’re not exactly boring you know, Rosario?”

        “Yeah, but fae’s cool type of cool, I’m the weird type of cool.”

        “Well, what if that’s what fae’s into.”

        “Maybe?”

        “You’d be surprised. I’ve laid with many humans, of all genders, shapes, and sizes. And the number of times I’ve told them I’m a demon, only for them to say shit like ‘oooh, can I see your real form, ooh I bet it’s grotesque.’ humans are freaky.”

        “And, did you show them?”

        “Only sometimes. It gets old. Fetishy.” He grimaced.

        “Damn, I’m sorry.”

        “I happen to like my human form, it’s why I picked it. ”

        “I like it too.”

        “so is that it, you just need an ego boost?”

        “No it’s not that. It’s, well how long have we known each other. You and I”

        “you tell me, as you know your human years are like seconds to m–”

        “Ok, ok. Well, I think it’s been at least 2 years. Like today’s March, so yeah, 2 years. And how many girls and enbies have you seen me date in that time.”

        “At least a dozen.”

        “And it never lasts, what is it about me that wrecks relationships?”

        “Well there was that girl, you broke up with her over her, music taste?”

        “Right, Camila, she was too into dad rock, I couldn’t be in the car with her.”

        “And that person who you said their poetry was mediocre.”

        “That was mutual, they didn’t care for my papier mache recreations of n-dimensional topological objects.”

        “Well don’t you think you need to adjust your standards a little bit. And maybe take it slower. Get to know a person before you decide to date them, and move in with them, and get a cat.”

        “That only happened once and we were together 6 months, which is a record.”

        “Also, aren’t you dating someone right now?”

        “yes, Mildie, but we’re polyamorous and currently long distance. She’s in Florida.”

        “And what’s this new person’s name.”

        “Faer name is Brenta, Fae goes by Bren.”

        “Bren, huh?” He said, looking at the ceiling.

        “Well tell you what. How bout. How bout I meet this Bren, maybe I can advice you better then.”

        “I don’t know.”

        “Come on, we don’t have to tell… faem?”

        “Faer.”

        “We don’t have to tell faer what I am. I can just be your friend from out of town.”

        “You’re not proposing a Cyrano de Bergerac situation, are you?”

        “A whom what now?”

        “Never mind.”

        “So it’s settled.” He said

        “When do you see faer again?”

        “Fae invited me to faer show next weekend.”

        “Very well. I will see you then. Thanks for the smoke. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have souls to pester, I mean torture.”

        He tried to stand up off the bed, stumbled and fell back on the bed.

        “Or maybe not, maybe I wait a minute.”

        “Haha. Lightweight.” She goaded.

        “Hush.”

        “You wanna watch some TV.”

        “Sure.”

        She pulled an episode of Seinfeld on her computer and cast it to the TV.

        “This one’s really funny. It’s the one where George tries to name this couple’s baby.”

        “Costanza! Hahaha.”

        To be continued…

Read on! Chapter 2

 

Gender in the Mushroom Kingdom

This article was written in 2015 (whew, that was a while ago huh) and posted on my tumblr, which has since been abandoned. Since gender on the mushroom kingdom has become a hot topic as of late, I figure it was time to repost and revisit it.

 

First, the original article:

The inhabitants of the mushroom kingdom, widely known as Toads, are indeed monosexed. They all have the same sexual characteristics and reproduce asexually, like fungi. This does not mean they are monogendered, they may have been at one point, but perhaps by the influence of other creatures have developed a concept of gender, as demonstrated by several toads who take on human genders, such as:

image

Toadette, who takes on a female gender. And uses she/her pronouns. And

image

Toadsworth, who takes on a male gender and uses he/him pronouns.

Most toads are genderless and are often confused for male.

image

Possibly because in English they use male pronouns as the default. It is currently unknown if Toads have their own language and what they use for pronouns, or if they have adopted pronouns for adopted and new genders.

It is indeed possible for toads to take on completely different genders than humans take, including genders exclusive to Mushroom society.

To contrast, consider the Dwarfs of Discworld, who are polysexed and reproduce sexually, however are monogendered and apparently lack secondary sex characteristics that would help them differentiate. Indeed, they all use he/him pronouns and traditional male monikers such as King and foreman. More research is necessary to ascertain how this relates to their own language and it’s attitude towards gender.

In short, Toads are monosexed, but polygendered, however, often genderles. Whereas Discworld dwarfs are polysexed, but monogendered.

ETA (Apr 2016): This Article implies a distinction between sex and gender that the author now understands is a harmful concept since, at least in humans, sex and gender are social constructs that denote the same thing.

 

ETA Jan 2019:

So now, onto this week’s news. As mentioned above, there’s a new powerup that has been causing a stir in the mushroom kingdom gender discourse for months now, I’m talking of course about the super crown.

Long thought to be a gender transformation item, the revelation that it can only be used by Toadette, reveals more details about the nature of the item. It is not a gender or sex change item, it is a species change item. It transforms toads into humans.

This is actually good news for Luigi (Luigiella? Lugiette? Gina? She hasn’t picked a name yet). As many have pointed out, she doesn’t need the super crown to be a girl, she’s already human, the rest is presentation and hormones should she want them.

But what about other Toads, why cannot they wield the crown? Maybe there’s something special about Toadette, but being a fungal person, how different can she be from other Toads? I believe the answer lies indeed in her chosen gender. As far as I know she’s the only playable character in this game who identifies as a female toad. It is untestable whether another toad woman, such as Tayce T. from paper mario would undergo a transformation should she wear a crown.

The Super Crown is a magical item, and magic is as much inside us as it is outside. Princess Toadstool, the eternal regent of the Toad People, is someone nearly every girl in the mushroom kingdom would have grown up looking up to. Whereas Toads who opt for a more male identity might instead look up to Mario, the kingdom’s hero. So the super crown would allow female toads to become their ideal. Who’s to say there isn’t a super cap out there that could turn Toad into Mariotti?

super mario hat

We can only wonder.