Their, Their Sex.

My closest school friend turned 24 yesterday (happy b’day, deevan!). I am not scheduled to do so for another five months, but her birthday has always seemed like the onset of mine, splitting the year into neat halves: until June 30 I am 23-and-a-bit; on July 1, I am almost-24. For most of my life this was eagerly anticipated: it put me closer to the adulthood I was so eager to acquire so I could live wildly and do all the exciting things I had in store for myself. Ever since I have been able to actually do those things (and chosen the indubitably wastrel life of living in front of a laptop) it has seemed far more menacing, cancer and wrinkles looming at the distant horizon. I envision losing my taut skin, my non-existent figure (I look like a tall potato) and my hair; my terrible eyesight weakening further, my voice assuming a wavering quiver, and my typing fingers swollen with arthritis (in more vainglorious moments, I picture the blind Milton composing extempore at his benighted daughters, replaced in my imagination by dictaphones ).

This is, you will understand, the best time to be watching television about women twice your age with hot bodies and hotter men, and it is why I have always loved Samantha on Sex and the City (hereinafter, Sex). I don’t identify with her- how do you identify with an alien superwoman? The closest I come to these New York women is Miranda in the early cynical years when she’s still something of a klutz. Samantha is my ultimate fantasy for myself (with a less.. tiring selection process and more alone-time) as alluring as she is impossible for the chronically shy. Charlotte I dismiss, while Carrie has always been the show’s central mystery. In some things we are similar: irrepressible diary-keeping; unfortunate dress-sense (well, at least she has some); a suspicion of Society (hers is far less pronounced than mine); good luck in friendship. In others- sociability, interests, cultural taste- we are impossibly dissimilar. In season one I was utterly taken with her: she was my adolescent idea of a zany thirty-something. Big I viewed as a pleasant aberration: I too hoped to have a tycoon in my stable one day. After that magical first airing on HBO India, sans all sex and watched sneakily late at night, Big has annoyed the crap out of me every time I try watching the first season (he gives her a glittery duck-purse!); the surest testament, in my experience, to the injury of hindsight.

Seven years ago (I guesstimate: d’you know when HBO first aired it in India? I remember being in high school, which puts it between 2000 and 2004.) I thought of Carrie as the key to New York: if I could just figure out the pulse of her I would be closer to the promised land. This impression curled up after the Aidan-drama, overdosed on a surfeit of Bergers, and flooded the big sewer by the Seine at the end of the show. By this time the other characters had also faded into their respectively jaded lives: Miranda to motherhood, Charlotte to divorce, Samantha to athletic nymphomania.  The jokes are thinner on the ground (“I’m what needs to be baby-proofed!”) and Jerry-Jerrod provides brief buoyancy to the sinking ship of Sex.  As a result, the only episodes of Sex I can watch are bits of season 2 and season 3. They are the best of Sex, before it was plotted on post-its (to its dubious credit, Sex did so before that other inert show, Grey’s Anatomy). The jokes are still effortless: Miranda on the surge of bisexuality in New York- “Somewhere between GenX and GenY, they blended in NY and made XY ”.

In The Caste System they even posit a thesis I have since spent 5,000 words defendingThe Cheating Curve brings in quantum theory, another pet peeve: is a gradient approach to cheating moral relativism or quantum cheating? At the end of season 2, Big breaks Carrie’s heart for the dozenth time by marrying the 26 year old fashion-WASP Natasha. In season 3, Carrie’s resulting insecurity leads her to seek solace in an elementary spelling mistake on Natasha’s part that most people would either neglect or over-read (‘their’ for ‘there’). Her word-nerd’s joy in that scene is the solitary second of solidarity I have ever felt between us. But the definitive episode of Sex, I believe, is The Chicken Dance, when everyone attends the wedding of a man Miranda wanted to marry (and inadvertently set up with his bride). They have their little dramas (or Big ones): Charlotte with a slinky  backless number and a nuptial bed, Miranda with invisibility, Samantha with her first rerun (figure it out). After all of that, four women, looking mostly puzzled and slightly sozzled, hold cocktails and observe a wedding bouquet rain down at their feet.

The blurry white thing is the bouquet

Unfortunately, last night my database ran dry and I made the disastrous decision to watch the movies. The first movie I sped and winced through- much like season six and latter-day season one. The second one, despite valiant effort, proved intractable. Perhaps it is only the change in location: they are not the first white folk to prove unpleasant in the Orient, and they have the argument that the city is rather vital to their concept. But I think the problem goes deeper. For one thing, the movies have made the already-skewed series exclusively about Carrie, and Carrie has never worked unless apart or alone. Hence the bouncing her (posse in tow) across the globe first-class to Abu Dhabi. It is no co-incidence that her biggest professional success- the book-party- was attended alone (it was also the episode that saw the first onslaught of caring coloured help: the intensely cheery limo-lady). By dragging Aidan along for the retreat instead of bothering to introduce a new toy-boy, I suspect the plot essentially set itself up for disaster.

I tried to watch the second movie because I thought some of the derision about it was ageism, like calling Samantha a “monstrous talking vagina”: I’m not denying that she is one, just that she has always been one, and it is only discomfiting people now because she has hit official grandmother age. Sadly, I never made it to either her public blow-job (I can easily skip one) or her spice-bazaar strip. I was so exhausted by the triplicate Liza Minnelli that I never made it to Abu Dhabi. And I wish Carrie had not either. 


A List for Today

The Lovers, Sixth of the Major Arcana in a standard Tarot deck.

Ten Television Couples I could stand more of

  1. Buffy and Spike. Well, you knew this one. The only true squee the Buffy comics drew from me was when Spike showed up. Though. What if Willow had stayed straight or bi and hooked up with him instead? But this is not intended to be fanfic.

  2. Willow and Oz. You knew this too. I liked Tara, but their arc was neatly played out into a quiet bow while Oz was summarily dismissed. And I am not a kennedy-fan. The comics have sealed the deal on this front, sadly.

  3. Sawyer and Juliette (Lost). Kate got the better sex scene, but I greatly enjoyed the whole goofy Dharma-boogie scene on the ‘70s island. And it has the whole pathos thing going for it. (I have exorcised the finale from my brain. In my head, the show ends with the world going Boom!  at the end of season 5 because Jack was a Giant Ass)

  4. Echo-Caroline and Ballard. I’m nostalgic for Dollhouse, and I can’t believe it was cancelled. I thought the second season exquisitely plotted, though the show did begin weak. I would say Alpha, but the other guy is called Ballard. What can I say? The name has psychic pull.

  5. Zoe and Wash (Firefly). She is a warrior woman. He plays with dinosaurs and makes things go whoosh! The scene with the unfortunate (and useless, plot-wise) spear in Serenity is another I have excised from my memory.

  6. Bill and Barb (Big Love). He might have three wives, and Nicki might be the most interesting. She is also the one most clearly unsuited for the marriage, the one most tragically trapped in it and the one I really I wouldn’t wish it upon.  She is the only one who genuinely believes she has no choice and no hope on her own. Barb benefits both in Jeanne Tripplehorn and in being the first, conflicted wife.  And she had a steamy clandestine affair with a husband who has two much younger wives.

  7. Blair and Chuck (Gossip Girl): in their hysterical uncoupled fashion. They are unutterably dull when they actually date, as they well know.

  8. Sheldon and Leonard (The Big Bang Theory): Sheldon-anyone is hilarious. Pity this is his only (barely) functioning relationship.

  9. Alice and Dana (The L Word): I don’t mind that they killed off Dana (and Tasha is totally hot), but I thought the whole Lara twist was rather pointless. Though it was kinda fun to watch Alice falling apart all over the place.

  10. Faith and Echo-Caroline. Ok, some fanfic, but surely identical non-twin girl-on-girl between a slayer and a schizophrenic is mind-boggling enough to warrant passing mention?

5 responses to “Their, Their Sex.”

  1. If it makes you feel any better: I will be a quarter of a century old in a week. woe is me.

    Also you must must must must see Veronica Mars. The banter (between everyone and everyone else) makes Gossip Girl look sort of silly and wan.

  2. Ahhhh, Willow/Spike- they were my favourite “What could have been”, remember when he escaped from the Initiative and tried to bite her? Only he couldn’t, because he’d been chipped by then- and the little bit where she feels undesirable because she’s unbiteable, and suggests that he try again? It was plain genius. And I loved Oz and detested Kennedy too, Season 7 just went way too fast with them.

    My mind boggles at the idea of a Faith/Echo ship ever sailing.

  3. True, about season 7, and their whole dynamic threw me. I suspect, though, we’d have hated anyone who wasn’t Oz as Tara-rebound. I mean, after you’ve gone and flayed someone like six months earlier I am not expecting you to be kissing random women.

    • It strikes me the comment might read unfortunately: no, it was not Tara she flayed. And the person Willow did flay turned up alive, if missing a few layers of skin, in the comics.

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