Having reached the halfway point in Sex and the City‘s six-season run, I’m pleased to say that the show has only gotten better with time. In fact, Season Three is the show’s most consistent and engaging year yet. For starters, the writers get rid of Big early on, sending him off into marriage with a porcelain-doll type named Natasha (played by that black hole of charisma known as Bridget Moynahan) and hooking Carrie up with the far more personable Aidan (John Corbett), a studly furniture designer. Of course, its inevitable that Big will re-enter the picture at some point and, sure enough, around episode 10, the two are back in the sack–only this time, they’re not swinging singles, but adulterers, which adds an interesting layer of tension to their relationship. I give a lot of credit to the writers for addressing the moral quandaries raised by this storyline without vilifying or celebrating these two deeply dysfunctional characters. It must have been tempting to let Carrie and Big get away with the affair, but the show’s scribes put them through the emotional wringer and deposits them on the other side with hurt feelings all around. The dramatic stakes are raised with the other characters as well, most notably Charlotte who finally gets hitched to the husband of her dreams, a New York blue blood named Trey (a perfectly cast Kyle MacLachlan). There’s just one not-so-tiny problem: Trey can’t perform in the bedroom. Even worse, he doesn’t seem to think his inability to get it up is a problem. Although this sounds like the set-up for a bad joke, Kristin Davis and MacLachlan mine this material for potent dramatic effect. In the first two seasons, I always found Davis to be the weak link in the ensemble, but she really steps up her game here. The moment where she confesses Trey’s impotence to Carrie just before she walks down the aisle is easily the best piece of acting she’s ever done. Meanwhile, Cynthia Nixon continues to be the show’s ace in the hole, even if the writers seem to be having too much fun finding unsuitable guys for Miranda to date. In between these disastrous hook-ups though, Miranda rekindles her romance with kindly bartender Steve and even allows him to move into her place. But co-habitational bliss just isn’t what she’s looking for, especially once Steve floats the idea of having a baby. With Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda all caught up in emotionally trying storylines, it’s up to Samantha to provide the show’s laughs, which Kim Cattrall pulls off with her usual aplomb. Whether she’s rolling her eyes at a dildo model as he attempts to impress her with his amateur poetry or dumping water on a back-talking transsexual hooker, Sam is the life of this increasingly serious party.
Season Three Rundown
Best Episode: “Hot Child in the City,” in which Carrie dates a comic-book geek who still lives with his parents and regresses to the state of a pot-smoking teenager. Trust me, it’s a lot funnier than it sounds.
Worst Episode: “Escape From New York” and “Sex and Another City” a pointless two-parter that finds the girls heading off to Hollywood for lots of moldy “L.A. sucks because…” jokes and boring celebrity cameos.
Word of the Day: “All righty.” Trey’s response to virtually everything, including Charlotte’s sudden marriage proposal.
Most Memorable Sex Scene: Samantha’s romp in a fire station.
Best NYC Location: The Staten Island Ferry–i.e., the only reason to go to Staten Island.