Monday, February 22, 2010

The Final Episode of "Sex and the City" (2004)

Six years ago today, HBO aired the series finale of "Sex and the City," and boy, was it lame. For a final episode, it really was a disappointment. Series protagonist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) ends up with Mr. Big, who parrots his "Abso-f*cking-lutely" catch phrase from the first episode? Big's real first name revealed via Caller ID on Carrie's cell phone? Charlotte is rewarded with exactly what she has always wanted: a baby? Miranda and Samantha learn important life lessons? Miranda finally gains the approval of the perennially disapproving Magda? I'm surprised they didn't promote this as a "very special episode" of SATC due to everyone's important realizations. To boot, almost every lingering narrative issue was tidily disposed of and everyone ended up happy once and for all. That's not life; that's television. Kinda sappy, especially for HBO, don't you think? Bah. Humbug. Who thought they'd end the show with such tidy and shameless sentiment? I mean, a little bit is to be expected, but this much? Alas.

Some good points: Carrie left the relationship with the Russian of her own violation after realizing that it was quite wrong for her. This was important. She realized that Miranda's warnings were wholly accurate: she could not give up her career, her friends, her city, her nation in order to live the life of an artist's girlfriend in Paris. Had the producers allowed her to end up with the Russian, then it would have been a betrayal of the show's central message of independence. Thus, it was good that she didn't suddenly choose between Big and Aleksandr Petrovsky; she left the Russian before she even knew Big was in the hemisphere.

However, the show ends with Carrie simply taking Big's word for it that he has finally matured after six years? Were this not the final episode, we'd learn in a few weeks that he was back to his old tricks (something that is confirmed in the film several years later). Has Carrie learned nothing from his past antics? The last few seasons of the show has been dedicated to the notion that people can change: Miranda goes from cynical career woman to working mother and wife, Samantha goes from nymphomaniac to smitten with Smith. But is Carrie to simply rely on Big's assurances(accompanied, of course, by his journey to Paris) that he has changed? Are we to believe that because Big's name has been revealed, that so too will he reveal his feelings and emotions to Carrie in a way he never did during the six years of the show?

I certainly agree with the folks at Gothamist who, at the time, noted that the good thing about the show ending is that "we can welcome the end of thousands of articles spectulating [sic] what kind of impact the show had on our lives . . . ." In the week-long build-up to the final episode, we all grew a bit impatient with the self-importance of the show's spokespeople. To boot, the hour-long "farewell" to the series which aired immediately prior to the finale was autohagiography. Back then, we were literally inundated with features and interviews pontificating on the importance of SATC. It was, according to the hype, a program which forever altered the way we as a culture thing about the single life. It was, according to the hype, a program which brought a new frankness to the discussion of sex, yet it was also a show with heart. It was, according to the hype, a valentine not just to single life in New York but also New York itself. But, in the end, I don't think the show was the significant culture-altering television program that its producers and cast always shouted from the rooftops that it was. Sometimes, a clever TV show is just that: a clever TV show. It's not as if Michael Patrick King was writing, say, Atlas Shrugged or something, right?


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