Season Four, Episode Two: The Real Me The Summary: Let us plunge into its depths, let us contemplate its mysteries! Lynn to be part of a fashion show called New York Style, which will feature a festive mix of models and "real" New Yorkers. Carrie anguishes over whether or not to do it--how can she, since she is not as flawlessly beautiful as Actual Models?
Won't people judge her for being delusional enough to think that she belongs on a runway?? Will they not mock and analyze her every flaw??? Happily, a combination of 1 her friends giving her a good slap upside the head about said neuroses, and 2 learning that Dolce and Gabbana picked her to model their clothes and that she gets to keep said clothes after the show induces Carrie to accept this model-y invitation.
Of course, Carrie does not leave her neuroses behind when she jumps into the Modeling Life--she still frets about her lack of perfect beauty, the absurdity of her moving within the world of high fashion, and so on, and so forth. However, there are perks--she begins a flirtation with a fashion photographer, Paul which ultimately goes nowhere, but is nonetheless pleasant, as he is pleasing to the eye, and pleasingly tells Carrie that vitality and personality, not perfection of face or form, are the essence of beauty--good Paul!
He does "pompous British twit in a frock coat" to perfection, that one. On the night of the fashion show itself I see, and 2 that the other "real people" in the show include such non-model-y, non-conventional-beauty-ish types as Fran Lebowitz and Ed Koch.
You should be honored to join any group in which Fran Frickin' Lebowitz is a member, missy! However, with a little help from Kevyn Aucoin and Heidi Klum, Carrie snaps out of her "ahhhh, showing imperfect body in public!
Being grouped with Frank Rich! However, she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and finishes the show to triumphant applause. Good things all 'round! But I suppose one cannot have everything! Miranda is flummoxed by a guy at her gym coming up to her one day when she is bathed in sweat and wearing a vile old gray T-shirt to tell her that he "thinks she's very sexy.
How can it be that someone finds her appealing when she is not all dolled up, Miranda speculates? I feel like I just went through all this oh right, because I just did , but 1 watching a character played by Cynthia Frickin' Nixon wonder how anyone could find her attractive It will not surprise you to learn that this seemingly pleasant turn of events a bloke whom Miranda thinks is attractive is attracted to her, in turn!
And thinks that her athleticism is appealing, to boot! Alas, it all starts out so well Miranda and this gent go out a couple of times And Miranda's confidence is up, because the gent keeps telling her that she's sexy, and she's starting to think that he just might be right. Doesn't sound so bad, no? Ah, but alas, gentle reader. Of course it's bad. As soon as she voices something of her new-found confidence to the gent, talking about how she is happy with her life, self, and accomplishments In real life, of course, vulvodynia is a serious, debilitating, and tricky-to-treat disease After her friends encourage her to sit down with a hand mirror and actually get acquainted with all things South of the Border, Charlotte eventually takes a deep breath and does so Yay for no longer hating one's own body!
Yay for increased comfort and familiarity with one's own personal physical terrain! And finally, we have Samantha, who is having nude photographs of herself taken. Of course she is. Not to impress any gents, she assures her friends, but so that she'll be able to look at said snaps later in life, and revel in the prime of her beauty once she is elderly and as such, of course, no longer "hot.
There is, of course, a dark side to Sam's "I wish to savor and appreciate my own loveliness" narrative here--said dark side being how Sam actually defines, and seeks to attain, said loveliness. When she and the ladies go out, she has hot water with lemon. Eventually Sam realizes that this is perhaps not the healthiest course of action, and that she'd actually rather be, you know, alive and eat real food, than maintain her "perfect" body.
And so she starts to eat properly again. Let's never fight again, I hate when we are parted, even for a short period of time. And there is actually a Stanford plotline in this episode, as well, imagine that!
Of course, it is about Stanford wading deep into the waters of the Dating Humiliation Pool So Stanford is lamenting his lack of recent romantic luck to Carrie, and Carrie and Charlotte decide that they need to find a nice guy to fix him up with immediately, if not sooner.
Since Charlotte's wedding stylist Anthony seems to be the only other gay gent whom Charlotte knows, she decides that the commitment-averse, "I only like guys who are stunningly beautiful" Anthony would be a perfect match for the serious-boyfriend-seeking, bespectacled Stanford. Turns out, of course, that it is not a perfect match--Anthony takes one look at Stanford, decides that he's not good-looking enough for him, and leaves, and Stanford unsurprisingly decides that he's not too keen on Anthony, either.
I hate when that happens. Maybe try to be a smidge less ragingly shallow in future, Anthony! Fashion show guru Lynn's omnipresent and silent companion, Damian, is gay. Seems like a nice gent, wears festive sunglasses The late, great makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin also makes a cameo in the episode--gets a few lines, diffuses some of his considerable charm, works some serious makeup magic on Carrie's eyes, and then disappears.
Rest in peace, sir. People of Color Watch: Silent Damian is Asian-American, as is Lynn. Lynn unlike her unspeaking companion plays a pretty significant role in the episode--she's represented as rather loopy, but also as both a talented professional and an interesting person Of course, she disappears after this episode, never to be seen again Write more feminist books , please!
Once again, the casting directors have slipped in an actor who had appeared earlier in the series in a different part--ha ha! That was your first mistake! My capacity to notice uninteresting details is boundless--boundless, I tell you!
So, the guy who plays Carrie's passing flirtation Paul also played one of Big's sleazy friends way back in Season One. Glad to know that he's cleaned up his act a bit since then--from slimy playboy to thoughtful photographer. Vulvodynia, Serious Illness or Subject for Jokes: Well, I will say that I appreciate a high-profile show like SATC even bringing up vulvodynia as a topic of discussion, since loads of people don't even know it exists, but lots of women suffer from it.
Charlotte actually has to keep a journal of her symptoms for her doctor! What could be funnier than a lady documenting painful physical symptoms taking place in her Lady Area?
Ah, what a rich vein for humor it is. Weeeellll, I was going to mention that I'm actually not so fond of the way that this episode brings up vulvodynia, but then makes it purely a source of comedy for the other ladies to tease Charlotte about, and also treats it like it's no more serious than a yeast infection--keep a journal for a few weeks, look at yourself in a hand mirror, and poof! Not sure it's that simple, in real life. Maybe there was a way that they could have mentioned the disease without making it seem both trivial and amusing?
Her vagina is depressed. I cannot think of any part of this whole thing that isn't funny. Weeeeelllll, is there a difference between seeing the absurdity and humor in the necessary indignities of illness and its treatment, and mocking that illness altogether, and making it seem fundamentally unserious and silly? Ummmmm--nope, don't think so. Charlotte may have vulvodynia, and Carrie may have fallen flat on her face on a runway, but Miranda is once again in the throes of Self-Doubting and Self-Denigrating.
As I have discussed before--I am not really a fan of this self-denigration! And to the show's credit, I don't think that it is, either--the writers represent Miranda's consternation at being seen as sexy as patently absurd, and show Carrie giving her a good slap upside the head about her bafflement and disbelief--of course Miranda is sexy, and deserves to be recognized as such. Altogether, I think that the episode does a nice job of emphasizing the fact that Miranda's doubts and inaccuracies about her own attractiveness are absurd, while also noting that it's entirely natural that she should nonetheless be riddled with them--living in a world in which the standards of what female "sexiness" are are decidedly unrealistic, distorted, and unattainable , it's not surprising that lots of women including the otherwise meticulously analytical and skeptical Miranda would have drunk some of this particular KoolAid, and be haunted by the fear that they are somehow not and never will be "enough" in the Beauty and Sexiness department.
The only thing about the Miranda plotline that sticks in my craw here is that Miranda loses the guy in this episode, not for being insufficiently confident, but rather for being too confident. He is totally into her when she is blushingly, self-deprecatingly denying his assertions that she's sexy--but as soon as she starts to believe it herself, and to talk about her confidence and her happiness in herself This could be a simple case of "well--then said guy is a jerk!
Let that forever be your watchword and your guide! So, in sum--I will give one point to this episode for realistically and sympathetically representing Miranda's doubts about her own attractiveness and self-worth, and take one point away for the episode suggesting that feeling too confident in her own attractiveness and self-worth is problematic. Which, of course, leaves us with a score of Better that than being in the minus ranges, I suppose! We must thank heavens for small mercies!
Ah, things I like about how this episode handles issues surrounding women's struggles to love and accept their bodies, let me count the ways: Excellent, Betty Dodson and Eve Ensler would be so proud! Having previously internalized the message that her genitals were ugly, and that she was better off knowing nothing about them and their various shenanigans, she actually overcomes such notions here, and achieves a new level of comfort with, and appreciation of, herself. Yay for not finding one's own body repulsive and distasteful!
I do indeed quite like the Sam plotline here, with Samantha overcoming her obsession with looking "perfect" in favor of actually, you know, eating solid food. Perhaps it is a little facile to show her going from "I will only eat steamed vegetables! By the end of the episode, Sam is more focused on how she feels than how she looks, and though this by no means, well, means that her struggles with beauty culture and body image are over, it still seems like she has achieved some measure of inner peace here.
Throughout the episode, Carrie always one to throw herself head first into her Obsession of the Moment , is fixated on the notion of "models as perfect, and self as too short, too awkward, etc. He makes quite a nice little speech about how it's people's flaws, complications, and imperfections which actually make them beautiful.