Sex and the City Revisited: Season 2, Episode 10: The Caste System

“I don’t know how you can get serious with a guy whose entire future is based on tips” – Charlotte

caste systemOK, it’s arrived – the one where Steve goes crap. I don’t blame him for feeling uncomfortable that his girlfriend is a much higher earner. I don’t blame him for buying an expensive suit he couldn’t afford. I don’t even blame him for bailing on Miranda’s work do. But the way he does so is unforgivable.

Let’s wind back to the beginning of the episode, and a great scene in the nail salon. The women are discussing income inequality in relationships, and to be fair Charlotte’s “future based on tips” comment wasn’t necessarily about gender, even if we know her outlook is wildly sexist. The first time around I dismissed this as simple snobbery, but it would have been interesting to explore how much Steve’s lack of ambition, as opposed to his lack of income, mattered to Miranda, as those are two quite different things.

Carrie responds that “rich men date not-so-rich women all the time”, which is of course true, but then adds “Look at me and Big – it’s not about money”.

ISN’T IT? Let’s look at the evidence. 1) You call him “Mr Big”. He earned this name because it was obvious to you from the get-go that he had power, status and … yes, money. 2) There’s never been a scene in which you treat him for dinner somewhere cheap and cheerful in order to maintain some semblance of equality, a la Miranda and Steve. He pays for everything. 3) He’s treated you poorly in the past yet something – something – keeps you coming back for more.

Samantha, brilliantly, is having none of it. I definitely did not notice this on first viewing, but on reviewing I’m 99% certain she knows what’s what, and an oh-so-subtle flicker of her eyes lets us know it.

Sam1.jpg
Your relationship with Big is “not about money”?
Sam2.jpg
Oh honey
Sam3
You just keep telling yourself that

Back to Miranda and Steve. Miranda wants to “enjoy her success, not apologise for it” and feels her income is putting her at a disadvantage. Charlotte puts the cat among the pigeons by suggesting the elephant in the room (apart from the subservient women buffing their feet) is that Steve is working-class. “It’s the millennium, sweetie,” shoots back Carrie smugly. “We don’t say things like ‘working-class’ any more.”

Steve returns the suit he couldn’t afford, and tells Miranda “being in that store with you, I didn’t feel good about myself”. All of which is fair enough, but he tells this to her while dumping her, and standing her up for the important work function she has to attend immediately after. Which is not fair enough at all. It’s utterly selfish.

Elsewhere, Carrie blurts out “I love you” to Big and he doesn’t reciprocate right away, then accuses her of embarrassing him at a party full of upper-class twats. Somewhere in among this she utters the immortal line “I think we’ve just encountered a mutant strain of Upper East Side anal”.

Carrie’s column: Can we date outside our caste?

Fashion: I really like some of Carrie’s fashion choices here, particularly her dark green sleeveless tailored dress. Charlotte sports a badly cut pale pink sundress that does her no favours. I concede Steve does look sharp in the suit. Which isn’t to say he couldn’t have found something similar in a much cheaper shop.

Puns: Carrie’s being too emo for punning, again.

Read all of my Sex and the City Revisited blogs here.

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