Sex and the City S1E6/7: Secret Sex/The Monogamists

by thethreepennyguignol

As Sex and the City gets more entertaining, it moves further and further into the realms of absolute bullshit.

These last two episodes (oops, sorry for the delay between recaps – if you want to know why I’ve been taking a break, check out my new podcast!), Secret Sex and The Monogamists, have probably been the ones that I’ve enjoyed most out of the entire season so far. They’re snappy, they’re sharp, the groove has been firmly settled into. And at the same time, nothing about these four women feels…well, real.

I feel like Sex and the City holds two spots in popular culture: one as a brazen and honest depiction of thirty-something women and their sexuality, and one as a fun, outrageous sitcom. The moments where those two things overlap in the show – the moments where it feels as though this is both true and funny – are pretty few and far between. But what’s actually more important?

These two episodes feel the most romcom-y of the show so far, as they focus so much on Carrie and Big’s relationship; Patrick Bigman continues to generally be a bit of an uncommunicative jerk, so that the show can proletize on the issues in their relationship, but Chris Noth is still just about charming enough to make it work. In fact, arguably, these are the first couple of episodes that really hit that familiar Sex and the City formula: Carrie and Big drama, Charlotte and a has-she-found-the-one plot, Miranda being aggressively and totally reasonably incredulous about everything, and Samantha off having some ridiculous and utterly unbelievable horny sex plot on the side for fun. There’s room to rag on the show for getting repetitive, even at this early stage in the game, but honestly – it’s that familiarity that makes me come back to it, over and over again.

And it’s that formula that makes it a sitcom, for my money. Sitcoms need to have those familiar sits to fit into that genre, and honestly, when they’ve found a formula that works, why change it up? Sex and the City had to be a marketable show first and foremost, and, with the contemporaneously “difficult” sell of a show with four female leads, that meant creating those marketable sits was even more important early on in the show’s run.

But the thing about those situations in question is that they’re never anything close to real life. Because honestly, what recurring themes in your life would you want to see played out over and over again on a weekly TV show? With great love and respect to myself and my life, the only thing that recurs in my world is doing the laundry, remembering to pay my council tax, and getting the cat to the vet for her regular pee-stick check-ups. I’m sure I could make some of that funny the first time around, but when you’re looking for a recurring formula that really works, you’re going to need to push the boat out into fantasy a little.

Which means that yes, Samantha is going to have an affair with her real estate agent and get caught tits-out in the middle of a potential new rental property by her previous estate agent. Carrie is going to catch Big on a date with another woman. Charlotte is going to find the perfect man, yet again, apart from that one little detail that’s going to ruin everything and leave her looking for another one. I’d say Miranda has the most varied plots out of all of them – even if she is weighed down with the interminable Skipper for the time being – but even she generally functions as a Greek chorus for the plots of the other women (and looks bloody great in her pantsuits doing it, might I add).

Every woman I know who watches Sex and the City (including me) enjoys it not because of it’s accuracy or honesty. We enjoy it because it’s an enormously daft and occasionally very entertaining fantasy world full of funny anecdotes, decent sex, and Kim Catrall taaaalking like thaaat. Is it a good and accurate representation of women and their lives? Of course it’s fucking not. It centres their lives almost completely around men, insists on making metaphors out of their shoe closets. But is it entertaining? Yeah, pretty much.

The issue becomes when people take Sex and the City as anything other than it is; when people claim that it’s more than a factory churning out pleasingly entertaining little snippets of nonsense for fun.

I really enjoyed these last two episodes of SATC; not from the perspective of a feminist looking for good representation of women on television, but from the perspective of some gal switching her brain off for something entertaining and familiar. The more I get into these recaps, the further I get from believing that Sex and the City is some feminist masterpiece by modern day standards; but God, it’s a good time, you know?

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book, Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!