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'Sex and the City': The Token Chick Weighs In

So in some circles, the big question for the last week has been What Will Carrie Do? In these circles, it's not necessary to explain who Carrie is; she's part of a quartet of imaginary girlfriends you may have had, checking in with them once a week and trying not to pay too much attention to how much easier it was to meet with these imaginary friends than with your real girlfriends.

Sex and the City has always been about wish fulfillment, but the fashion, Manhattan real estate and nonstop men all fell short of the show's number one fantasy element: that you and your friends would always have the time for each other, and treat weekly brunch like an inviolable religious observance. Watching the show was a quick way to recall all the casual hang-out hours you had with your girlfriends before your life happened to you: your job got more demanding; you moved a couple thousand miles away; you bought a house and began doing yardwork on the weekends; you got married; you had kids. If you watched Sex and The City in the wrong mood, it was a lonely show; you'd sit there after an episode, wishing you could call your friends for brunch without already knowing all the reasons why they couldn't attend.

But the last few weeks of Sex and The City have been gently weaning viewers from the fantasy: Miranda has moved to Brooklyn; Samantha has a monogamous man who is something of a saint -- a very hot saint, but a saint nonetheless; Charlotte's been juggling puppies and adoption paperwork; Carrie's up and gone to Paris with the accomplished older artist Alexsander. People bought houses, got married, had kids, moved away.

However, Sex and The City backed away from fully embracing realism with the Carrie story. While anyone with half a working brain could see that Alex and Carrie were doomed -- he's a cultured man of the world, and there are actually yogurt containers in my fridge with more culture than Carrie has -- the real and interesting question was how these two would implode. Removing Carrie from New York City was a genius move: it would let the character realize that the greatest love of her life was actually the city itself, and it would show her that there was a whole wide world beyond Manhattan, maybe forcing her to grow up a little and show interest in something other than herself.

Sadly, the Paris plot line was nothing like this: Alex became a cartoon villain who went from treating her like a grown-up to smacking her around (however inadvertently) in their shared hotel suite; Carrie fumbled her escape plan and got completely derailed when ex-boyfriend Big came storming in after her in a gambit that was either romantic or stalkerish (depending on your perspective), and in the end, she gets the courage to shake off Alex because ... Big filled in instead.

For a show that treated women's lives in groundbreaking ways -- Miranda's plot lines alone rocked comedy conventions to their core -- this was a big disappointment. Granted, Big's plan to deliver comeuppance via fisticuffs goes off the rails, but at the end of the show, Carrie tossed years' worth of lessons she should have learned from Big's crappy behavior (a litany of which would push this into ten-thousand-word territory) and went back to New York, back to Big, and back to shopping. Nothing changed for her.

(And for those of you who think Big changed: girl, please. Have you forgotten how he treated her after heart surgery? That disdain wasn't just for the candy-striper outfit.)

Everyone else in the show changed. The entire episode hammered that home: Charlotte accepted one failed adoption attempt with a grace she wouldn't have had a year ago; Miranda opened her home to Steve's ma (whom she dislikes) because she loves Steve; Samantha let herself be loved. They've got whole, happy lives, all of which were made possible by them bravely accepting change and moving ahead.

And meanwhile, Carrie's still flouncing on down her New York streets with a shopping bag on her arm, talking about her relationship with herself and taking calls from Big. So what did Carrie do? Ultimately, nothing. How disappointing.


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