Sex and the City S1E12: Oh Come All Ye Faithful
I can’t believe I’m going to say this.
But I’m on Mister Big’s side in this one.
Look, I didn’t expect it to end this way, but here we fucking are: at the end of the first season of Sex and the City, and my analysis has brought me to just one conclusion: that Big, in this instance, is entirely in the right, and Carrie needs to back the fuck off.
I said in my last review that Carrie’s lack of ability to communicate is one of the most frustrating parts of the show, and, of course, it’s that very problem that drives the end-of-season drama break-up in the most irritating way possible.
Carrie discovers that Mister Big takes his mother to church every Sunday, and decides that she wants to add herself to that mix. He politely turns her down, and so, instead, she turns up at the church they attend, makes a scene, gives Big no choice but to introduce her to his mother, and then throws a tantrum when said mother doesn’t appear to know who he is. Big tries to fix things by taking them on a holiday together, and Carrie, outside the car to leave for the airport, demands to know if Big thinks she’s “the One”. When he fails to give her the answer she wants, she dumps him on the spot.
And I’m going to be real with you: this is toxic behaviour. It’s fine for a partner to have boundaries; it’s fine for Carrie to not like those boundaries. But what’s not fine is the way she breaks them, pushes to force herself into his life at a level he’s not comfortable with, because she’s comfortable with it, dammit, and that’s all that matters. Big lays down his comfort level, and Carrie breezes by it and then chucks him when he dares protest.
And I think this sort of thing is where the idea that Carrie is one of the first female anti-heroes comes from. It’s a popular discussion point around the show, and Ms Bradshaw in particular; she does a lot of shitty stuff, no doubt about it, and as a result, she often comes off as the most dislikeable character in the show. The difference, though, between this and an anti-hero, is that SATC – at least at this stage in the game – seems to come down on Carrie’s side with all her bullshit toxic behaviour. When she demands to know if Big thinks she’s the one, the show paints it like a reasonable question that she can reasonably expect her desired answer to. When Big doesn’t give it to her, and she leaves him standing in the street with a Caribbean holiday booked with no-one to go to it with (don’t worry, Chris Noth, I’m waiting there with a teeny bikini and a giant drink for you as we speak), it’s a tragedy – for Carrie. The spurned party. Not the pushy, boundary-ignoring partner that she has turned out to be.
Really anti-heroes are ones that the show recognize as crappy people, but who’s stories they are still interested in telling (it goes without saying, but Walter White is a great example of this and probably always will be the measure against which I judge these things). Presenting that crappiness uncritically is not critique; it’s just regurgiation.
That, for me, has been the most annoying thing about watching this season again. Because, despite all my criticisms, SATC does go down really easy; it’s funny, it’s light, it’s generally well-performed, Kim Catrall is there. I’ve enjoyed watching these season again, all things considered, and I know that it’s not going to be the last time that I come back to this show for a little light entertainment (and because I am hopelessly in love with Kristin Davis).
But Carrie is a shitty person, a lot of the time, and the show seems to align itself with her shittiness in a way that I just can’t get behind. And don’t want to, either. Carrie’s not an antihero, at least in this season of the show, because SATC seems to tacitly agree with so much of the boundary-stepping crap that she pulls off – she’s just a dick. And yes, I know that this show has a hell of a lot of time for dick – but this is one cock that I wish they’d left out of it.
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(header image via Cosmopolitan)