This is a new series for WiR and before we begin, let's get on the same page when it comes to the definition of "fuckboy." No, I'm not going to link you to some overlong think piece from Slate or Vanity Fair. I have zero desire to dive into the etymology and get all faux-philosophical. When I say "fuckboy" I mean it as an insult, a term used to describe a dude who thinks he's great but really isn't. This "fuckboy of the month" series will focus on men in film/tv who were beloved at the time but actually suck upon closer examination.
I remember watching "Sex and the City" for the first time with my mom circa 2004 when TBS picked it up for syndication from 10-11PM on Tuesday nights. We didn't have HBO, so this was our only way to see it and we were hooked pretty much immediately. It had everything we wanted in a tv show: fashion, shots of glamorous places we had never been to, and sex ... albeit the vanilla kind appropriate for basic cable.
The first movie came out after my freshman year of college and we went to see it together at a Cinemark Theater in the Pittsburgh suburbs. It was a Saturday matinee screening and the place was packed with women of all ages. When Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) hit Big (Chris Noth) with her flowers after he left her at the alter, everyone audibly gasped. How could he do this to her after so many years?
I cry over ridiculous nosense, so I'm sure I shed a few tears during the Manolo Blahnik closet proposal scene. Even though Big was an asshole who couldn't even write his own love letters or follow through on minor commitments, I was happy that he was Carrie's endgame. Based on the vibe in the theater, most people felt similarly. As the credits rolled, everyone stood and clapped.
Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever full of shit.
After re-watching the entire series and the first movie (not the second, because it is terrible and I like to pretend it never happened), I can't for the life of me figure out why I ever championed Big and Carrie's relationship. They're terrible people and make a destructive, annoying couple.
Big is inarguably a fuckboy. He masterfully convinces women of his merits and renders them amnesiac when it comes to his faults. He lies when it's convenient, doesn't know what he actually wants, and prioritizes his feelings and needs above all else. He has skills that even other great fuckboys (Mr. Darcy, Jess Mariano, Mark in "Love Actually") don't possess. In preparation for this piece, I took copious notes on all of his tomfoolery and will cover the most egregious offenses in chronological order.
This series shouldn't be read as "fuck all men." I aim to study a particular type of male character who exhibits bad behavior that for whatever reason, is often overlooked or reluctantly accepted. I want women to stop fantasizing about changing men and instead, look elsewhere when some douchebag tries to convince them that deep down, he's really a nice guy. I want less of this archetype in media (unless it's a self-aware portrayal) and real life.
I imagine he's reviewing the stock indexes in the WSJ for fun.
In the case of Big and Carrie, I acknowledge that she's just as despicable as him, but this piece isn't about her. I've never been a huge Carrie fan, but she is our protagonist and even when she's making monumentally bad decisions, we're supposed to relate to her. Big, on the other hand, is just some dude who shows up mainly to remind us how infuriating he is.
We meet Big in the first episode of the series. Carrie has decided that she's going to try her hand at "having sex like a man" and she's feeling powerful as she walks down the sidewalk after her first foray with some scrub named Kurt (Bill Sage). A man bumps into her and her purse spills. As she drops down to scoop up the contents, a passerby lends a hand. It's Mr. Big and he seems bemused that Carrie's purse contents consist mostly of Trojans. He saucily waves as she stumbles down the street.
Later in the same episode, Carrie runs into him again at Chaos, a nightclub where the waitstaff wear fringed lampshades as hats. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) spots Big across the room and tells Carrie, "See that guy? He's the next Donald Trump except he's younger and much better looking." Trump has always looked like a wrinkly troll doll, so this isn't much of a compliment. Samantha notes that Big usually dates models, which tells you basically everything you need to know. After he turns down Samantha's propositions, he offers to give Carrie a ride home in his black town car when she is unable to catch a cab. This is the conversation they have in the backseat:
Carrie: I write a column called "Sex and the City." Right now, I'm researching an article about women who have sex like men. You know, they have sex and then afterwards they feel nothing.
Big: But you're not like that.
Carrie: Well, aren’t you?
Big: Not a drop, not even half a drop.
Carrie: Wow. What’s wrong with you?
Big: I get it, you’ve never been in love.
As they reach Carrie's apartment and she exits the car, she asks him if he's ever been in love. His response? "Abso-fuckin-lutely."
Cool story, bro. Carrie is the only one who believes you.
From the first episode, Big paints himself as a romantic. He might only date supermodels and slightly judge Carrie for her purse full of prophylactics, but by God he doesn't just fuck women and feel nothing. He's sensitive! He's been in love and knows how great it is. It's no wonder that Carrie is intrigued.
The rest of Season 1 goes down in typical fuckboy fashion. Big communicates poorly, tries to keep things as casual as possible, and is only emotionally vulnerable when Carrie threatens to leave or shows disinterest. For example, she sees him at brunch with friends after several failed attempts at a "drink thing," which is perpetual bachelor speak for "first date."
After giving him an answer to his crossword puzzle and casually strolling away, he chases her and asks for an actual date. She tells him, "I don't know. I'm good at crossword puzzles, I'm just not so good at people puzzles." It's not until she exhibits flipant nonchalance that he promises the dinner will be "just you and me."
Pro-tip: if you have to work this hard just to set up a solo dinner date, the dude isn't worth it and you should order lobster and ghost.
At the end of the season, things come to a head when Big introduces Carrie to his mom as a friend and attempts to make up for it by planning a swanky trip to the Carribean. Predictibly, throwing money at relationship problems is easier than an honest conversation. After she asks for some reassurance that he can't provide ("Just tell me I'm the one"), they end the relationship.
He takes his mom to church every Sunday but can't even make it one week without cancelling a date with Carrie.
They get back together in Season 2 and the same pattern continues. He acts like a piece of shit until Carrie threatens to do something dramatic (like bang the cater waiter at his boring friend's party), and then he throws her a tiny crumb of affection to keep her invested. When he finally tells her he loves her, this is how he does it:
"I fucking love you. All right? You know I do. It's just a tough thing for me to say ... because it always seems to get me in trouble when I say it."
Wow. True romance and #relationshipgoals.
They break up for the second time when Big finds out he might need to move to Paris for work. Carrie is understandably upset, mainly because Big acts like the whole thing is nbd and she's crazy for getting emotional. Only a fuckboy would say "I love you" and then treat you like you're a clingy bitch for wanting to find a way to make a long-distance relationship work. No wonder "I love you" gets him into trouble. He probably says it all the time without a) actually meaning it and b) making choices that demonstrate his sincerity.
When Carrie sees Big with Natasha (Bridget Moynahan) at the Hamptons Hoedown (which is a real thing, btw), all of her worst fears are confirmed. Big's Paris deal fell through and instead of calling Carrie, he traded her in for a younger model. He told Carrie he never wanted to get married again, but she finds out that he and Natsha are engaged in the Season 2 finale.
Carrie is so upset that she barfs, but at least her abs look great.
If he wasn't into Carrie, why did he tell her that he loved her? If he wanted to keep things casual, why didn't he ever plainly state his feelings? I've dated guys like this, who clearly weren't interested in a serious relationship with me but would never actually admit it when prompted. I was never above friends with benefits, but I found it infuriating whenever the dude involved tried to convince me that wasn't what was happening. It's deceptive, shitty behavior and I think guys do it because they don't want to look like assholes and think it's somehow nicer than fucking without feelings.
If this is how things ended, Big would still be a fuckboy but he wouldn't break my top ten. He cements his position in Season 3, after he relentlessly pursues Carrie even though he's married and she's in a relationship.
The most disgusting episode is S3E11, "Running with Scissors." Big and Carrie fuck at his apartment while Natasha is in the Hamptons. Big leaves to go back to work while Carrie hangs out shirtless and roots around his fridge for leftovers. Natasha returns early and Carrie tries to sneak out but gets caught. Natasha falls down the stairs in pursuit, wrecks her mouth, and Carrie ends up taking her to the hospital. This is an awful, awkward situation but Carrie summons her humanity and deals with it like an adult. When Big shows up at the hospital, he's all "I'll call you," and Carrie rightfully tells him they're done.
After one failed marriage and three years of heartache, Big still finds new and exciting ways to shatter Carrie's already fragile mental state. They're "just friends" in Season 4, but he cockblocks her budding romance with Ray King (Craig Bierko), the jazz bass player and later, when she's back with Aidan (John Corbett), continously reminds him of past infidelities.
In the finale, he tells Carrie he's moving to Napa because he bought "3/4 of a vineyard" and needs a break from New York. He leaves without a proper goodbye, but gives her plane tickets to use if she ever feels lonely. He's only able to do something sweet when he needs to in order to save the relationship or knows there will soon be 3,000 miles between them.
I can finally be nice to you because I'm moving to California.
Season 5 is short because of SJP's pregnancy, but Big's fuckboy behavior breaks for no one. Carrie is on tour in SF, promoting her first book, and Big is obsessed with it. Carrie is horny because she hasn't boned anyone in awhile, but all Big wants to do is rehash the past and apologize for his wrongdoings. Even after expressing regrets, he acquiesces to her sexual advances because "You'll need material for the sequel."
He finally recognizes that he's treated Carrie poorly in the past and wants to make amends, but sex trumps all. Even when he's coming to terms with the havoc he's wreaked on Carrie's life, he can't stop himself from digging a deeper hole. Although his behavior in this episode initially feels like a breakthrough, it regresses to the same old debauchery. It's like .... "I don't want to further hurt you, but my dick is hard." This is not a plausible excuse in my book.
Season 6 is almost too upsetting to discuss. Big gets an angioplasty and Carrie convalesces him. In a moment of weakness, he tells her "You're an angel, you know that? I'm serious. What are we doing? I'm talking about us. Life's too short." When he wakes up in the morning and feels better, he's completely cold toward her and acts like nothing ever happened.
Big wants Carrie to treat him like his mom when he's sick and feverish, but writes her off as soon as he's back to normal. Nope. Kick him to the curb, Carrie. This dude's affectionate sentiments don't mean dick.
Aside from a few lame attempts at phone sex, Big stays out of the picture until Aleksandr pops up and threatens to take Carrie off the market. Aleksandr treats her like an afterthought and ultimately deserves to be abandoned ... but I don't understand why Big needs to go retrieve Carrie in Paris. She's made peace with the situation and is in the process of using rusty French to book her own room, so she really doesn't need a man for anything. The series ends with Carrie and Big back together. His Napa house is on the market and he's moving back to New York. Who wanted this? Why did the writers think this was the move?
I just wrote 2,200 words about why Carrie and Big are horrible together but at the time, I was happy about it. I thought they were soulmates ... that he recognized the error of his ways and knew deep-down how special and important Carrie was. Young Lindsay believed that Carrie changed Big and found this incredibly impressive. Like Annette Bening, she landed the whale (I stole this line from Paris Geller).
For whatever reason, the idea of changing a man is titillating, especially when you're young and haven't ever run into a professional fuckboy. If a dude acts like 90% monster, 10% gentleman, it's easy to delude yourself into believing that you have the power to shift the ratio. Spoiler alert: you do not.
"I miss New York. Take me home."
In the first movie, things get even more convoluted. Carrie and Big have been together for ten years, but they still haven't made things official. They want to buy an apartment together, but Carrie is concerned about taking the next step without any legal protection, so she and Big decide to get married.
After more people find out about the engagement, the wedding blows up into a 200 guest spectacle at the New York Public Library. Carrie has an entire spread in Vogue Magazine and Vivienne Westwood gifts her a beautiful gown to wear for her nuptials. Big is flabbergasted, but hides it instead of just saying, "Hey, I'm kind of freaked out and didn't realize this was going to be such a grand event. Do you think we can scale it back a bit?" He does express some tepid concerns, but waits until the night before the wedding to seriously voice them.
I understand where he's coming from because I would have lost my shit if my husband decided to invite even a handful of people to our wedding (we eloped and the only people there were our photographer and officiant). I think romantic relationships are private and I love my husband so much, but I don't want rando people to know the details of our relationship. I, however, expressed these feelings as soon as we got serious and was very clear about my desire to get married without any other people present.
If someone is like .... 50+ years old and still susceptible to another person's emotionally-charged blanket statements ("marriage ruins everything"), they're pretty worthless and not marriage material, IMO. In prime fuckboy fashion, Big tells Carrie he "can't do this" when she's already at the NYPL in her wedding dress. He wants a ton of reassurance and instead of coming in and talking to her, he leaves her frantic voicemail messages that she doesn't receive until it's far too late because Lily Goldenblatt in a conniving bitch (I'm jk! She's like four years old).
After this huge, catastrophic event, Big tries to apologize but does it in the lamest way possible. He sends this email:
Subject Line: I'm sorry.
Body: I don't know what to say.
Umm ... maybe think of something worthwhile before you press 'send,' asshat.
Even at the end, when Carrie is finally ready to forgive him, he sends her the lamest possible email love letter. After plagiarizing Keats and Voltaire, he finally sends her an original message:
"I know I screwed it up - but I will love you forever."
This is apparently enough to convince Carrie to go to the penthouse apartment to retrieve her shoes and reconcile with him. He had a panic attack, left her alone at their wedding, offered up two weak-ass apologies, and now everything is hunky-dory?! Nope. This is infuriating and dumb as fuck.
These two are selfish, incorrigible, short-sighted, and have proven time and again that they make a horrible partnership. I do not, will not support them. I hope that young girls watching this series for the first time realize how dangerous and idiotic this coupling is and steer clear of the problematic guys who pretend to be committed but have no real interest in relationships. Do not fall for their idiocy and get out before you drive yourself insane.
Heed this warning or risk ending up in the Central Park Lake.