Sex and the City and I, Episode 03: Bay of Married Pigs

So I watched this episode over a week ago and then the curse struck and I haven’t felt as much like writing, and what little energy I did have I put into finishing up a different piece that you should go read cause it’s probably more important than sex and the city. But, it is Saturday, I’m at the Library, I have two friends with me that as far as I can tell are writing, so I should get to it and write.

Here we go.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve lived in New York a couple times for a couple years. I’ve been visiting New York since I was like 7. I have never been to the Hamptons. I think the farthest up Long Island I’ve ever been is Far Rockaway. It doesn’t strike as a place queers tend to go. However, a certain type of New Yorker, I’m told, by television, goes there quite often. Carrie Bradshaw is one of them.

One of the best parts of living in New York, she says, it’s leaving it. She goes to the Hamptons, to stay with a married couple, a pair of New York City exiles, it would seem. As payment for their hospitality she renders the traditional sacrifice of regaling them with tales from her single life. The married couple is satisfied and Carrie goes to bed. The next morning the tragedy happens. Mr Husband whose name I don’t care to remember or look up, surprises Carrie by running into her in the hallway, fully nude from the waist down.

Can I just take a moment to wonder about this. I’ve slept in various configurations of clothing. I don’t think the t-shirt no bottom has ever been one of them. What… what is the point of it. Did they bone last night and he didn’t bother taking off his shirt. Sounds extremely boring, but then, this is heteros we’re talking about.

Screenshot from the episode of the dude with no underwear. The shot is from the waist up however.
I can see why his wife is worried, look at this hunk of a man /s

Moving on, Carrie tries to laugh it off but when she tells Mrs. Wife about it she’s very VERY uncomfortable. Carrie is forced to make an early exit. Once in the city she debriefs the girls on her encounter and the episode’s topic du semaine is set up. The usually cold sometimes uncomfortably hot, war between the city’s singles and the city’s married couples. Miranda thinks married women fear her, Charlotte wants to be them, Samantha is happily committed to sleeping with anyone (I want to say anyone within her standards, but we’ll see later why that doesn’t apply) and any time regardless of marital status.

I’m tempted to say this is a whole bunch of straight hullabaloo, but the show anticipates me. In the middle of one of those interview segments that I’m pretty sure doesn’t survive past season one, she ends up with my man Stanford who is sick to his stomach of all his friends flying to Hawaii to wear a caftan and recite vows. I assume he said that because Hawaii was the only state at the time to allow gay marriage, but not quite. I’m afraid I’m not super familiar with the history of marriage equality in the US (so sue me). Now would be a good time to go on a thorough exploration of that question. Why were Stanford’s friends all going to Hawaii… Find out in a special issue of this column next week (not really (I mean maybe) (an addendum to this one??) sure why not)

So Stanford, the straightest gay man in New York, is here to remind us that being Gay does not exempt one from service in the Marriage Wars (oh that’s why it’s called Bay of Married Pigs, it’s a Bay of Pigs reference, also men are pigs). They happen to run into one of Carrie’s old friends who’s now openly gay, and he’s there with his Life PARTNER, now there’s a dated term. Upon hearing Carrie’s Single. they bafflingly ask her if she’d be willing to donate one of her eggs so they can have a baby. They already have a surrogate they just need a top-notch egg. I guess Breeder is a proper despective, since it turns out gays can be breeders and when they are, they are AWFUL. I want to say I hope that this is an example of straight people writing gay characters and that no gay person would commit such a faux pas, but actually no, we would. I mean I wouldn’t but SOME PEOPLE.

Moving on. Miranda, who I’m expected to believe is not a homosexual, is going to a softball game. Where she’s agreed to be set up, but is disappointed to discover her colleague has set her up with a lesbian. This is something that, according to television, happens very often. She explains, all is good, they decide to play together. And do great and have great synergy despite, again, Miranda being entirely straight. Miranda is pleased that being paired up is getting her recognition from her boss, which is treated as proof of marriedship bias as opposed to, you know, her boss fetishising lesbianism. So when he invites her and her date to his house for dinner, she decides it’s worth it to pretend.

Meanwhile, in the middle of a casual encounter wherein Carrie is doing research for her piece by talking to one of her apparently many married couple friends, she’s blind-sided by a guerrilla attack. She’s been set up, on a date. The guy, whose name I again can’t remember and don’t care to look up. Seems fine at first. Successful, reasonably attractive, in the middle of buying an apartment. Carrie, decides to go for it. See where it goes, but soon she sees she’s being roped into a bigger plot. She’s being recruited. He keeps talking about children and how great that apartment is gonna be for two people. I don’t know if I can call those red flags, and white flags are already taken. What would be the flag that someone is hot to marry. Unfortunately the hanky code does not seem to cover this edge case. Let’s say Mauve. Carrie sees these flags, but she’s hoping she can maybe push him into her corner a bit.

The episode’s various threads culminate on the night of Carrie’s boy’s house-warming party. To which she brings Charlotte and Samantha as backup. This is the same night of Miranda’s lesbian dinner party at her boss’ house so she’s unavailable. Honestly the Miranda plot is so much more interesting, but there aren’t very many scenes. Let’s wrap up Carrie’s plot so we can get into it a bit.

The party is a trap, everyone, EVERYONE there save the 3 girls is part of a married couple. Samantha hates this and starts knocking back drinks. I can’t remember if it’s her or Charlotte or both of them that are having pleasant conversations with men only for a wife to show up to whisk them away. Threatened presumably. Charlotte takes Samantha home because she’s unbelievably drunk, and Carrie stays till the end of the party and breaks up with her boyfriends before he has a chance to propose to her. Not that he was about to, but it was certainly where he wanted to be headed, and they’ve been dating for all of one week.

Samantha, whilst Charlotte is sleeping, goes downstairs to seduce the door man, which let’s be real, it’s more of a door boy. He can’t handle a woman like Samantha, but it’s his lucky day she’s too drunk to care. She just needs something quick. This is what my previous comment about her standards was about. I’m not even gonna touch the issue of what constitutes consent and what constitutes harassment¬†in this case. Samantha Jones is a force of nature and is unstoppable in getting what she desires. God help those who would deny her.

A screenshot from the episode with Miranda and Syd in the elevator
Don’t give up, you two. Love awaits you elsewhere.

So Miranda. Miranda, has an amazing dinner party, she talks shop with her boss, is angling for a promotion. Nevertheless, she’s a woman of scruples, and she’s not gonna hurt a poor lesbian by continuing to rope her into some sort of professional scheme. She comes clean to her boss, which seems to respect her shrewdness. No harm done, he says, and tries to deflect using his wife. Saying she’ll be disappointed since she really wanted to add a lesbian to her circle. I have no idea what’s going on in this marriage, but Miranda would do well to stay well away from any more of his dinner parties before he tries to get her to unicorn.

On the elevator, Miranda takes one last desperate shot at happiness. She kisses Syd (of course, she I care to know the name of, she’s a lesbian, she deserves a name). Nope, she says, definitely straight. Which Syd confirms, yeah, you are.

This is also a common television trope. The character everyone thinks is gay tries to give it a go only to be told by the queer person that no, their gaydar never lies and they are definitely not pinging. And this to me belies a deeper issue. Specially with people Miranda’s age. A lesbian in that age range, and any queer person, does not want to be part of an experiment. They’re out there, just like everyone else, apparently fighting in some sort of war for happiness in the form of a stable relationship. They’re don’t exist as a device for straight people to test themselves for gayness. Nevertheless, in heteronormative society, it can take people a LONG freaking time to figure out if they’re queer, specially if they’re bisexual, and you’ve already been dating people of one of the genders you’re interested in. I wish there was an easier way for them to explore those feelings. But it doesn’t always play out very well.

A quick word of advice, if you happen to be a person in this situation. Just communicate effectively. Some generous souls might be willing to embark on such a journey for you, but they need to know what they’re getting into. I’d like to imagine that this is why Syd agreed to go on this dinner party. She really had a good time playing softball with Miranda. They had good chemistry. She thought, well, she says she’s straight, but what if, she’d just never questioned it. There were plenty ways to hook up in the 90s, but what if Syd wants to defect, what if she wants that everlasting happiness and is having trouble finding it. Then this incredibly hot, well positioned lawyer falls into her lap. Maybe she wanted to say no right away, but what if, she couldn’t let it go, what if.

You can’t tell me one kiss is enough to dispel those doubts on either side. It’s the 90s but Miranda’s in her 30s. She has a fully formed ideal of herself. She doesn’t want an experiment any more than Syd does. Did she feel nothing in that kiss. Or did she choose not to feel nothing. Would she know the difference. It wasn’t a very passionate kiss. I wouldn’t have felt anything if I kissed my deepest crush like that. Miranda. You do you, but don’t throw it all away in one non-kiss in an elevator. Syd, best of luck. We’re never gonna see you again, I’m sure, but you’ll find your girl. You’ll got to Hawaii, or whatever the lesbian equivalent of Hawaii is (New England?). Hang in there kid.

As for you, dear readers. That’s our column for this week. 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.