When Mr. Big Becomes Mr. Small
Lee Siegel walks through how Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are faring in the downsized world, from Bergdorf to the $10 store.
Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall… have all signed contracts with New Line Cinema for a second film based on the HBO series and the book by Candace Bushnell; Michael Patrick King, who wrote and directed the first film, has signed on to write the script…. The sequel is planned for a 2010 release.
— The New York Times, February 6, 2009
Opening Scene: Catching Up
The girls meet up in the cafeteria in Hong-Tsu’s $10 Store—formerly Bergdorf Goodman—to fill each other in. Their lives are as rivetingly complicated as always. Carrie describes her comical efforts to have shoes included in her extended COBRA benefits. Charlotte is excited about her and Harry’s move from Manhattan to a three-bedroom garden apartment in Teaneck, New Jersey. Samantha, who now works for a federally funded agency that offers oral sex to unemployed bankers, tells some revealing stories. There is a moment of tension when Miranda wonders aloud whether she and Steve might be able to buy Charlotte’s old condominium at a foreclosure sale, but the two old friends kiss and make up when Miranda adds $2 to the tip for their waitress, who just happens to be Charlotte’s second adopted Chinese daughter, a 42-year-old former train dispatcher named Iris, now supporting her parents by working double shifts at Hong-Tsu’s.
There is a moment of tension when Miranda wonders aloud whether Carrie’s role as director of the Save Prada movement is keeping her from being with Small when he needs her most.
Scene Two: The Great Depression
Tragedy hits Small (the girls’ new nickname for Big, who hasn’t had an erection since September 2008) when Bronx Community College cuts off his financial aid and puts an end to his dream of becoming a refrigerator repairman. The girls quickly convene at Hong-Tsu’s. Charlotte invites Carrie and Small to come out to the “country” for the weekend and stay with her and Harry and daughters in their new two-bedroom apartment in Garfield, New Jersey. Samantha thinks she might be able to get Small an administrative position at her new job, a federally funded agency that offers oral sex to unemployed auto-industry executives. There is a moment of tension when Miranda wonders aloud whether Carrie’s role as director of the Save Prada movement is keeping her from being with Small when he needs her most, but the two dear friends kiss and make up when Charlotte announces some big news: Harry, who had got caught up big time in the real-estate euphoria of the ‘90s and lost tens of millions of dollars in a plan to build a ski resort in the Florida Keys, is eligible for Medicaid.
Scene Three: Glimmers of Hope
Small’s health-care provider agrees to cover Viagra; the new tax code allows Samantha to take a $1,200 deduction for her mouth; Charlotte and the family move to a one-bedroom apartment with a sunny “breakfast nook” in Lodi, New Jersey; Carrie leads the march for Dolce & Gabbana in Washington, D.C.; and Miranda catches herself before wondering aloud whether Small’s daily dose of 1000 milligrams of Viagra will affect his concentration when he takes the dishwasher-maintenance exams next month.
Scene Four: Setbacks
Although it is December, and a snowstorm is on the way, the girls decide to save a little money and, instead of meeting at Hong-Tsu’s, hold their weekly tête-à-tête on a bench in Union Square Park, just a stone’s throw from what used to be the Union Square Café, which is now Pat and Dominick’s Bowling City. There is much to talk about. After her initial joy at what the girls gigglingly referred to as Small’s sexual “surge,” Carrie was plunged into despair when Small, experiencing a four-day erection, had his member struck by a bicycle messenger while waiting for the light to change at Broadway and 86th Street. Charlotte immediately invites Carrie to stay with her and the family in their new studio apartment in Waldwick, New Jersey, until Small gets out of the hospital. Carrie bursts into tears. She is torn by guilt, unable to decide between caring for Small and rushing to the bedside of the ailing Manolo Blahnik, who had been struck down when the march to save Versace in Washington turned violent. Samantha, now administering oral sex to unemployed newspaper editors under an emergency provision in the stimulus package, votes for Blahnik. Miranda is about to protest when it begins to snow, and the girls, unable to find a federally funded taxi, take refuge in Pat and Dominick’s, in exchange for polishing the balls.
Scene Five: Opportunities
Carrie arrives at Hong-Tsu’s breathless with some big news: The new bipartisan health-care plan, which provides medical coverage to every American citizen, so long as the primary-care physician is based in Iraq, is going to pay for one-half of Small’s prosthetic penis. The girls put their heads together and try to think of a way to come up with the money to pay to complete the operation. Samantha, recalling the recent purchase of Chase Bank on eBay by a Mrs. Estelle Dobbs of Eagle Rock, New Mexico, offers to sell her body online. Charlotte suggests that Carrie save money by moving in with her and the family in their new tent in Clifton, New Jersey, overlooking the Passaic River. Miranda, who represented the city’s homeless people in the recent “shelter buyout” brouhaha, offers to sue the government. Carrie is so moved that she forgets to attend the Jean-Paul Gaultier Bailout rally in Park Slope.
Scene Six: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But...
The girls collect enough money to pay for two-thirds of the second half of Small’s prosthetic penis, and they meet at Hong-Tsu’s in high spirits. There is more to celebrate than Small’s comeback, however. Congress has passed a sweeping Public Works Program and everyone has a job! Carrie is working both as editor-in-chief of the new Zagat’s Guide to New York City’s Best Soup-Kitchens, and helping to oversee the government’s efforts to convert the Big Three’s cars into energy-saving shoes. Charlotte is employed in a federally funded arts program that shows imprisoned real-estate brokers how to paint houses and yards instead of selling them; Samantha has been sent by the US to the Middle East to head up its Sex-for-Peace initiative; and Miranda and Steve are working in a government project to teach Signal Corps movements to Americans who can no longer afford cellphones. The evening ends with some fabulous news. Iris has just married Hong-Tsu, and the two of them are going to buy up everyone’s debt. Hugs and tears.
Lee Siegel has written about culture and politics for numerous publications. He is the author of three books: Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination; Not Remotely Controlled: Notes on Television; and, most recently, Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob. In 2002, he received the National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism.