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.
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.