Season Five of Sex and the City is the shortest one of the set, due to SJP’s unfortunate abduction by aliens at the beginning of 2002. Apparently they beamed her aboard their flying saucer, and performed all sorts of bizarre experiments on her body, and it took so long for NASA to rescue her and return her to Earth (not to mention all the work that went into reattaching her head), that there simply wasn’t enough time left over to film a full 18 episodes that year! Okay, that story’s not entirely true… but I’m sticking to it anyway.
Watching the boxsets in such quick succession is an interesting experience, because you really get to see how the characters have evolved… as much as sitcom characters ever really can “evolve”, I mean. Their lives have taken some interesting and unlikely turns over the years, and you do get the sense that they have been changed by their experiences… and, in most cases, changed for the better. The most striking development is how deep Miranda’s story became, once she realised that she was pregnant… and how, for all her cynicism and snarkiness, she somehow became the sweetest and most sympathetic character in the show. Carrie’s careless torturing of Aidan really counts against her, imho, so it’s a little galling to find her trying to dodge any damage to her self-image this season, by raging against a gossipy straw-woman who dares to make a mean face at her in a restaurant bathroom, when she recognises her as Aidan’s ex. (ep. 5.6) By the end of the episode, Carrie has taken the very Zen decision to forgive herself… but can we, as viewers forgive her? It’s a little harder to find her “manic pixie” schtick as charming as it once was, in the light of how she shat all over that poor schmuck’s heart. Also, to get really, really shallow for a second, I have to say Cynthia Nixon looks a lot hotter now than she did when the series first began… her hair is a much softer shade, and I think the “baby weight” really suits her, for reasons that probably don’t need elucidating (although there are a couple of jokes about the size of her boobs in the show itself, so don’t blame me for thinking about them!) But enough of that…
No new love interests for Miranda or Samantha this season, as they stumble through the debris of their previous relationships. Is it rude to describe a baby as “debris”? Ah well, too late now. Charlotte hooks up with her divorce lawyer, Harry Goldenblatt, for “ugly sex”, but eventually comes to develop deeper feelings for him. As played by Evan Handler, the guy is relatively charming, in a rough-and-ready sort of way… but as someone who has tried to crowbar Yiddish words into his own scripts in the past, I can’t help thinking that they clang a little when he drops them. That may just be because I’m consciously listening out for them with my faulty gentile ears though. Carrie “sparks” with Jack Berger, a dashing novelist bearing the requisite three-day beard, and compatible sense of quirky humour. It’s good to see Ron Livingston again, even if he does make me nostalgic for Defying Gravity (2009-2009). Sniffle. The other big development in Carrie’s life is the release of a book based on her newspaper columns, entitled “Sex and the City”. This leads to some rather self-referential scenes, especially when Mr Big picks up a copy and starts to see their relationship from a whole new perspective… but I think it’s handled with far more restraint than the previous Hollywood episodes, where she was trying to sell the movie rights to her columns. It also gives us the very welcome recurring double-act of Molly Shannon and Amy Sedaris, playing her doting publishers. They both give fairly straight, subdued performances (by their standards), but it’s still nice to see them all the same. Later in the season, Heather Graham pops up as ‘herself’, to remind the viewing millions how darn adorable she is… and Nathan Lane appears in the finale as ‘Bobby Fine’, an excessively camp Broadway performer, who surprises all of his friends by marrying a womanly dame.
I’m sorry to keep kvetching on about “affirmative action”, but it’s frustrating to see talented, charismatic black actresses like Lisa Gay Hamilton and Dena Atlantic bond with the main cast, only to be booted out the back door before the next episode starts up. Gah! I know it would undermine the central premise if the four friends started spending more time with new social groups, and developing different interests… but can’t they even make some room for a friendly baby-sitting neighbour? Apparently not, no. Sorry, Kendall… Miranda has to go back to blanking you in the hallways again now.
– More of a question, really: Is ‘Weight Watchers’ really a good place to meet women? Because I rather like the larger ladies, and if it means I might get to make out with a woman like Miranda, I may have to look into it…
– Even though it would have meant more “work” for me, I’m disappointed by how few features there are on these discs… there were a few tiny talking head thingies on the first two seasons, but since then there’s been zip all.
– I also resent the fact there aren’t any chapter breaks in the episodes, so I can’t skip the opening titles… don’t get me wrong, I think the show has a truly beautiful title sequence, and I’m glad they didn’t change it between seasons, but still… “familiarity breeds contempt”, as they say.