Sex and the City S1E11: The Drought

by thethreepennyguignol

Sex and the City, this week, is about No Sex and Very Little City.

Alright, the rundown: Carrie farts in front of Big, and decides that their sex life is now dead because he’s not initiating sex in the aftermath. Samantha is engaged in a celibate affair with her yoga teacher, who doesn’t have sex anymore. Miranda just can’t find a man, and Charlotte is dating a dude who just isn’t that interested in sex due to his medication.

First off, I think The Drought makes for one of the more fun contrasts of this season – Samantha as a voluntary celibate, and Charlotte actively pursuing sex from her partner. I would say that it gives both actresses a little more space to play with the characters, but let’s be real: Kim Catrall does one thing as Samantha (at least in these early seasons) and one thing only, and that’s play everything like a character in a Pedro Almodovar film-within-a-film. I mean, yes, it’s fun to see her sexually frustrated for a change, but more than anything, this is a plot which ends with her fucking a guy from a yoga class to relieve her tension after loudly announcing WANNA FUCK to the entire room, so, you know. Not exactly stretching her. Not in that way, at least. Still, I love Kim Catrall doing literally fucking anything in this show, and there’s a reason that Samantha and her absurd over-sexity are so iconic, you know?

Charlotte’s plot, though, I have to say, is a little more interesting. I am helplessly in love with am a big fan of Kristin Davis when she gets to play Charlotte a little less proper and one-note, but honestly, I have to give this plot some kudos for presenting a dude with a low sex drive due to SSRIs (hello, yes, I’ll take one “unpleasantly familiar”, please) as something that’s pretty normal and even positive for him. He explains that he’s on meds to deal with mental illness that got in the way of him living a normal life – including what appears to be a sex addiction – and that his life is infinitely better on the medication, even with a lower sex drive, than it is off of it. Charlotte decides that she’s not willing to give up on sex and moves on, but I appreciate that the show doesn’t rake him over the coals for it. Men who don’t want to have sex all the time are even still treated in pop culture like a strange cultural artifact, and given how off SATC is with its depictions of social issues, they got this one…right, actually? There’s something surprisingly mature about all of this, which, with so many episodes delving into some unpleasantly adolescent nonsense, actually acts as a breath of fresh air.

Anyway. Elsewhere in the episode, Carrie is off acting decidedly unhinged in the face of farting in front of Big. And look, I have to be honest here, I’m kind of on Big’s side with this one – so many episodes of this show revolve around Carrie making a wild assumption (in this case, that Big is no longer sexually attracted to her) based off a minor and basically irrelevant piece of evidence, and then running around trying to fix that assumption without ever bothering to check if it’s actually real in the first place. There’s something frustrating about Carrie in these stories, especially given that we know she can verbalize these kinds of issues in the first place (by writing that damn column), but is required by the plot never to communicate them with the people who actually matter.

So many of these stories hinge on Carrie being unable to actually fucking talk to people about what’s on her mind in any way that matters, which kind of falls apart when we’ve got her voiceover acting as the thematic breakdown for every episode. The writers want us to believe that Carrie is consistently capable of incisive social commentary in the public sphere, and also unable to tell the people close to her anything that might solve her problems. I get it, people have layers and aren’t always consistent, but all of this doesn’t make Carrie seem deeper or more layered; she just comes across as adolescently childish, unable to say what she really means for…what reason, exactly? Big has, so far, reacted with nothing too insane to her telling her how she really feels, so her continued inability to tell him anything feels more teenage than empowered thirty-something woman in charge of her own sexuality. It’s Plot Contrivances Bullshit, but it’s starting to get harder to ignore the further we get into the season and the less Carrie seems to learn anything at all from anything she does.

The Drought is certainly an interesting experiment for SATC – take out the sex, and actually, there’s a lot left to work with, at least for most of the characters. But as the season comes to a close, it’s hard not to feel like Carrie is still very much at square one – and wonder what it will take for her to make any kind of change to the way she lives her exceptionally neurotic life.

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!

header image via SATCrevisted on Tumblr)