I am skipping ahead a month so that I can quote Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker): "Men are the new black." Carrie says this to a disapproving editor at Vogue (Candice Bergen), in defense of an article she has written that was supposed to be about fashion accessories but is instead about failed relationships. You may wonder what Carrie, who dresses as if she had been stolen in childhood by acid-tripping gypsies, is doing at Vogue to begin with. But let's rest our oars for just a minute on the pondlike repose of Carrie's wisecrack, as if it were the punch line to a haiku, or maybe even a mantra. Returning after four summer seasons with a "bonus" of six midwinter episodes, has Sex and the City at long last articulated its tetragrammatonic code?
Men are the new black. No wonder Carrie has spent more than $40,000 on shoes. No wonder her latest pair will be ruined when the water breaks for pregnant Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). What, wondered Saul Bellow's Herzog, do women really want? ("They eat green salad and drink human blood.") Well, besides shoes, they obviously want more than Aidan (John Corbett) and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) can give sex-columnist Carrie. Or Steve (David Eigenberg) can give corporate lawyer Miranda. Or Trey (Kyle MacLachlan) can give MOMA tour guide Charlotte (Kristin Davis). Or Richard (James Remar) can give publicist Samantha (Kim Cattrall).
Granted, Samantha's a special case. She looks to lease, not buy, as if men were time shares in a condo (when they aren't merely theme-park rides). But Carrie thinks she wants to live with Aidan, till he asks her to marry him. And Charlotte actually is married to Trey, until he brings back to Park Avenue a cardboard-cutout photo of a baby to make up for the real one they can't have. And Miranda finds that the bigger she gets with child -- "like suddenly there's a giraffe in the room" -- the less likely she is to have sex unless she settles for the child's father, whom she has declined to wed. And even Samantha is subverted by the bubbles and baubles of romance.
Between visits to gay dance clubs, wedding-dress and crib shops, Vogue, and a maternity ward, there are dog, plant, cell-phone, breast-pump, grape-jelly, and masturbation jokes. When Carrie tells Aidan she isn't ready for wedlock, he threatens to evict her from her rent-controlled apartment unless she buys it, which she can't afford because she spent all her money on shoes. Which is why she must write for Vogue, for $4 a word and editor Ron Rifkin in his underwear. Not only that, but Mr. Big has bought a vineyard -- and is leaving New York for Napa, as if the Chrysler Building had decided to relocate. Is this an excuse for "going-out-of-business sex"?