Thursday, June 14, 2012

Five New Things I've Learned About "Sex and the City" by Watching the Reruns in Bangkok

In the eight years since first-run episodes of Sex and the City left our TV screens, I've never gone for long without it. I own the entire series on DVD, I saw both of the movies in the theater (and hated both of them, though the second less than the first), and I've regularly watched the reruns on TV in New York City, Buenos Aires (where I once dated a guy who had never seen the show because he assumed that it was for girls only), and Melbourne.

So I'm not sure what it is about the reruns that began airing on the Sony Channel in Bangkok a few months ago that often makes me feel like I'm watching the show for the very first time. Maybe it's because all of the nudity has been edited out and every "fuck" bleeped over, leaving it, surprisingly, still watchable, if a tad too light on Samantha.

The first thing I noticed was how well the show has aged. Aside from the talking-to-the-camera schtick, even the early episodes didn't seem nearly as '90s to me as reruns of those other TV comedies featuring sex and the same city from around the same era (Friends, Seinfeld, Will & Grace). And how did I miss how toned Sarah Jessica Parker's midsection was? It's something I noticed for the first time while watching Carrie arguing with Aidan while wearing nothing but her underwear in "The Good Fight," Tuesday night's rerun that first aired on January 6, 2002, when SJP was 36 going on 37.

Here are five other brand new discoveries about Sex and the City.

1. Samantha may not have been great girlfriend material, but she was the best friend. As Stanford angrily pointed out in one episode, Carrie was often too self-involved and preoccupied with the silly details of her own romantic life to care much about anyone else's. I enjoyed her friendship with Miranda (still my favorite of the four and the one I relate to most), but Miranda too often fell into the friendship trap of looking at the lives of others through the warped prism of her own. Case in point: The first movie, in which her bitterness over Steve's infidelity created a domino effect that led to Big considering dumping Carrie at the altar. If you saw the film, you know how the rest turned out.

Samantha, on the other hand, not only spent a weekend in Aidan's country dump to support her friend, but she was the one who guided Aidan to engagement rock No. 2, which was perfect for Carrie. What was Miranda thinking choosing that big ugly engagement rock No. 1?!

2) Did Carrie ever call Big anything? She referred to him as Big to her friends, and in the final episode, his actual name was finally revealed to be John, but in all of her conversations with him, including their first one, I don't think she ever referred to him by any name at all, not even "sweetheart" or "darling." And wasn't it strange that she would refer to her ex, Big, as that while talking to her current, Aidan?

3) Speaking of Aidan, either Carrie didn't really love him at all, or nice guys really do finish dead last. Full disclosure: I will forever be Team Carrie and Big (Cig?). That said, Aidan treated her better than all of her other men combined. Yet he was the only guy over the course of the series to have his heart broken by Carrie -- and she did it twice! First, she cheated on him with Big, and then after losing and winning him back, she agonized over whether she wanted to get married or not when it was obvious that she just didn't want to get married to him.

I doubt she would have been so tormented over a proposal from Berger, the worst of all her men, and would she have even considered moving to Paris with Aidan, which she did with the Russian and contemplated doing with Big?

4) Whoever chose the music for the series, truly earned his, or her, paycheck. I've commented before on how much I loved the use of Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" and DB Boulevard's "Point of View" in various episodes, but I totally forgot how amazing Sade's "By Your Side" sounded playing in the foreground as Carrie walked down her New York City street wearing that Roberto Cavalli monstrosity at the end of "The Good Fight." For a full 15 minutes or so afterwards, I even thought about moving back to New York City!

5) Carrie's taste in men was about as lily white as Charlotte's. Miranda and Samantha both dated black men, and even Charlotte ended up marrying a Jewish guy. Maybe I missed something, but Carrie's romantic interests -- her boyfriends, her fuck buddies, her one-night stands, played by Vince Vaughn, Bradley Cooper and others -- were always unfailingly white, which wouldn't be so surprising if the city in Sex and the City weren't the melting pot of the U.S.A.

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