[Contains major SPOILERS, because the finale pissed me off so much]
Season Six of Sex and the City is the longest one of the lot, presumably to make up for the curtailing of its predecessor. Overall I think it was pretty strong, and served all of the characters and cast members well… but it also did a massive disservice to one of my favourite fantasy destinations, and tried to curb-stomp my dreams, so excuse me if I get a little frothy around the mouth here. Sigh… where to start?
After all my politically correct ranting, one of the four main characters finally got a recurring black love interest… so you think I’d be happy, right? Well, no, because I’ve been pulling for Steve and Miranda to get back together since season three and there’s no way I was ever going to accept another man raising their son, regardless of his race. Blair Underwood did a great job with the role, but it was pretty obvious from the outset that he wasn’t going to go the distance, because his not-being-Steve-ness was always going to count against him in the audience’s eyes, and Miranda’s heart. I’d accuse the writers of cheating again, but what’s the use? It’s all done and dusted now. I could have done without the last minute, out-of-the-blue addition of a befuddled “Ma” Brady to their household, but other than that I was pretty happy with the way that Miranda’s story “ended” in the series… even if she did come off as a bit of a bitch where Carrie’s leaving was concerned (and was at her very least loveable when conniving to get “our girl” back again). I was also very happy with the resolution of Charlotte’s story, and particularly enjoyed the plot about her converting to Judaism… especially when she got all excited about saying her first “Oy!”, bless her. I can’t say I ever particularly warmed to her husband, Harry, but he seemed like a decent guy… and you have to respect Evan Handler for spending almost an entire episode in the nudey, considering how buff some of the other male cast member were! As for Samantha’s story… well, I’m a neurotic hypochondriac, so I clench up anytime I hear the word “Cancer” (or read it in the horoscopes, even), so that wasn’t a very easy ride for me… but I thought the relationship between her and Smith was very sweet. I haven’t really given Kim Cattrall her due as an actress, because I find her character slightly repellent (and yes, I’d feel the same way about a man who behaved the way she does too, so it’s not a double-standard… it’s straight-up prudery), but she’s proven herself to be a fearless physical comedian over the course of the series, while also having the versatility to reveal Samantha’s more vulnerable side, when she lets her guard down. So, snaps to her.
Before we get into my issues with Carrie’s story, let’s check out some of the celeb-cameos, shall we? First up, there was Wallace Langham enduring the kind of date that nightmares are made of in episode 6.1. He’s just a one-scene-wonder, but I was glad to see him anyway, because he reminded me that Larry Sanders is finally coming out on DVD in the UK, so… hurrah! Then came Jennifer Coolidge playing a rather temperamental “purse party” hostess, and being her usual brilliant self (ep 6.3). Amy Sedaris returned briefly to drop a news-bomb on Carrie, and basically presage the beginning of the end for Berger (ep 6.5). Kim Director appeared as an angry downtown bar patron, who threatened to kick Samantha’s ass after finding the “city girl” kissing her boyfriend (ep 6.7). A less welcome sight was Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, putting in an extremely wooden turn as some random woman who brags to Samantha about a rooftop swimming pool (ep 6.10). Meh. Thankfully that same episode also boasted David Duchovny playing Carrie’s old high-school boyfriend, who returns for a little one-on-one reunion. In episode 6.18, Carrie attended a party which boasted both Wallace Shawn and Kristen Johnston as guests. Johnston cropped up on Ugly Betty recently as well, playing a similar sort of charcter (i.e., a deluded, ageing, has-been). It’s a shame she hasn’t managed to score a sizeable starring role since 3rd Rock from the Sun, because she was always so funny and sexy on that show… and, if anything, she’s looking even hotter these days. Is she too tall to be a romantic lead though? I don’t really know how these things work… I just know a lot of male actors are supposed to be quite short, so that probably doesn’t help.
On the French side of things, Aleksandr’s ex-wife, Juliet, was played by Carole Bouquet, a former “Bond girl” (For Your Eyes Only, 1981) who also appeared in New York Stories (1989). Her daughter, Chloé, was played by Cécile Cassel, who is apparently a famous name in her native land, as well as being Vincent Cassel’s half-sister. I really enjoyed her performance, but the scene where she’s introduced is such a feeble fake-out… I mean, was Carrie supposed to be too jet-lagged to remember the long conversation she had with her boyfriend about his daughter, only a few episodes earlier? Has the subject of his family in Paris not been mentioned at all since then, even though they were obviously going to be running into them once they touched down? Or is she just an idiot? And why the hell did she expect the girl to be anything other than surly and resentful towards a total stranger/potential step-mother who was prying into her private life?
But now, I suppose, it’s time we got to the real bone of contention: I’ve never been to Paris, and I’ve no doubt that if I did go there I’d have a terrible time, because I don’t speak the language and I don’t particularly like cities on principle (especially the landlocked ones)… but Paris gave me Amélie, and j’adore Amélie, so I feel honour-bound to defend it, regardless. I know how tough it is to spend time surrounded by people speaking a foreign language, and to feel that sense of alienation… but I still don’t think Carrie gave Paris a fair crack of the whip. She isn’t the first American to ever visit the place… and she isn’t the only “American girl” to live there. If she’d even bothered to do a little research online (and it was established earlier in the season that she had access to Google, so there) then she’d know that there are several English-language media outlets based in the city… so she didn’t automatically have to give up her writing, just because she’d moved to another country. If she’d been serious about starting a new life over there, she should really have been more prepared… then she wouldn’t have had to worry so much about spending time with her fancy man. If the worst came to the worst, she could have just started a blog, to help scratch the creative itch! Weird that the series never really credits her with any ambition as a writer, or as a reader… I mean, she landed in one of the great literary capitals of the Western world, and the only book she bothered picking up was her own! In a previous episode it was revealed that she was actually selling well in France, and we get a suggestion that she does indeed have a following over there… but that potential is simply never explored, because the show has such a hard-on for New York, that it can’t see past the end of its own hot-dog. God forbid one of their characters should find happiness outside the United States! I’m not sure I qualify as a true “European”, since I’m only uni-lingual and rather poorly travelled… but I still find it vaguely hurtful. “The people over there are all stinky and rude! And they leave animal faeces in the street! Can you imagine? That would never happen in a city as clean and friendly and safe as New York!” Yeah, right. Go tell it to John Lennon.
I was also annoyed (again for purely personal reasons) with the way they wrote Aleksandr out of the show. Among all of Carrie’s potential suitors, he was the one I identified with the most… for better or worse. I liked the fact that he had such a gothic edge to him… heck, he would have made a pretty awesome vampire, with all the brooding darkness and Old World wealth! But he was also an Artist with a capital “A”, and I respect that… far more than the SatC writers ever seem to. For them Art is just something to giggle over in the final scene of an episode, or to lose interest in when you suddenly decide to try for a baby… and Writing is just an excuse for a punny voice-over narration, or a “my book’s bigger than your book” ego-meltdown. Pisses me off. I must admit that I’m one of those introverted Arty types who tends to withdraw into his work, so I could empathise with Alexsandr far more than I could with Carrie… although she seemed a little spineless when it came to ditching the dude at the gallery, and honouring her commitment to her Frenchy fans. Most of all though, it bugs me that they were so clumsy about flipping his switch from “good boyfriend” to “evil boyfriend”, just so they could airlift Mr Big in as her bullshit “white knight” deus ex machina. Sure, we’d seen Big become a little more enlightened in his recent (rather fleeting) appearances, and I stand by what I said about the chemistry between SJP and Noth, but for my money the writers simply hadn’t laid the groundwork well enough for me to see him dragging her back to the U.S. as some kind of “happy ending”. It looked more like regression to me, and Miranda would have agreed if she wasn’t being so goddamn selfish about getting her best-friend back. I don’t want to come off as anti-American here, because I’m really, really not… I just felt the way they resolved the story was so inelegant and insulting to a city where many ex-pat Americans have found succour over the centuries… and without the benefit of a bottomless pot of Euros to boot!
Ah well, c’est la sitcom…
– I don’t believe I’d be threatened by a girlfriend who was more powerful or successful than me… so if there are any rich, older women out there looking to whisk a young, beardy writer off across Europe for a sexcapade… then, by all means, whisk away!
– I know it’s their show and all, but I still cringed when Carrie and Charlotte hijacked the “hen night” of a random group of black women in a bar, and rubbed Char’s big, fancy engagement ring in their faces. Of course they all started cooing and worshipping her, because she’s a main character… but it still made me squirm.
– I like to think I’m old-school romantic, but maybe I’m more on Miranda’s wavelength after all… I thought the way she handled the proposal and wedding arrangements was adorable. Spontaneous expressions of affection FTW!
– Charlotte looked super-cute in her “Annie Hall” outfit, in episode 6.13. Is this the first time she’s worn a shirt and tie since she dressed in drag in season two? It suits her! (no pun intended)
– Where the hell did Alexandr’s entourage of assistants disappear to, anyway? Do they hate Paris too? Sacré bleu!