Char, remember that Kirsten actually plans to go to law school, not just hang around the Jackson Pollocks. I see her and Giselle as best-pal roomies, but Kirsten, too buttoned-down for the beatnik life, will mature into a killer in the courtroom and ultimately marry one of the partners in her firm, after roundly snubbing hub #1, who will beg unsuccessfully for a second chance. I knew someone exactly like Kirsten years ago. Yale Law ’67, one bad Wasp marriage, then onto a solid securities-law career. One bad two-month bout of wedlock does not a radical feminist make–fortunately. It’s poor dear Giselle I worry about. But she’s smart, tough, and stylish, so I see in her future a career as a buyer for Sotheby’s and a nice Jewish investment banker.
See? We’ve married off everyone in Mona Lisa Smile whom we like (not you, Prof. Katherine Watson)! Talk about MRS degrees!
Speaking of which, and speaking of working gals in Manhattan, it’s still not too late to read culture critic Kay Hymowitz’s take on Sex and the City in City Journal (fall 2003 issue but still up on the Internet), especially while the much-loved HBO series lurches on its Jimmy Choos into its last few episodes. (Hymowitz’s fine essay got crowded out by the buzz over City Journal managing editor Brian C. Anderson’s much-discussed pronunciamento in the same issue that the conservative media had finally won the culture wars.) Hymowitz’s theory is that Sex’s four successful, wise-cracking, but utterly self-absorbed and money- and status-obsessed heroines are the inevitable products of today’s meritocratic society, in which people are defined not by their manners or their morals or their breeding, but by their jobs.
Worse still, nearly all the men they manage to find are just as bad as they are, and not exactly husband material. Hymowitz writes:
“In season four, Samantha meets a man at an engagement party who snarls, ‘I told [the waiter] I wanted a Grey Goose on the rocks a f—in’ hour ago! Chop, chop!’ Never one to be put off by a testosterone-pumped male, Samantha, the randiest of the foursome, purrs, ‘Well, Phil, and what do you do?’ ‘I’m a TV agent, and I f—in’ love it!’ barks the twitchy agent, a man whose loud-mouthed egotism is far better suited for success in wheeling and dealing than in cooing sweet nothings.
“The TV agent, like many of the eligible knowledge-economy bachelors on the show, may have gone to Yale or Princeton, but he sure never got around to taking Manners 101. Charlotte dates a handsome agent who compulsively touches his private parts. One of Miranda’s suitors, deficient in basic bathroom hygiene, leaves ‘skid marks’ on his underwear; another, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, leaves the door open when using the facilities in her apartment. Sex and the City contrasts the poor breeding of arrivistes like these with the old-money gallantry of men like Trey MacDougal, the Park Avenue WASP Brahmin who becomes Charlotte’s first husband. During their brief marriage, Trey, though handsome and virile in appearance, is a sexual disaster. Shortly after they have separated, Trey is thrilled when Charlotte comes to visit him, and in his ardor, he ejaculates on her dress. ‘I’m sorry, Charlotte,’ Trey says with as much dignity as a man could muster under the circumstances. ‘May I get you a hankie?’ ‘Trey may have had a lot of flaws,’ Carrie says dryly in her voice-over, ‘but bad manners wasn’t one of them.'”
Sounds as though those old-time etiquette lessons that Marcia Gay Harden dispensed to the Wellesleyites of “Smile” weren’t such a bad idea after all.