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 What’s scary about these shows, is that 21 years later, they remain sharply relevant instead of hopelessly outdated.
This episode might fall closer to the outdated side of the scale though.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.
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.
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…