And Just Like That, The Other Shoe Dropped

Coming out can be excruciatingly difficult, totally simple and uneventful, or anywhere in between. For some, it's dangerous and can actually be life-threatening, while for others it's liberating. In situations like Miranda's (Cynthia Nixon), it's likely to have a drastic impact on her family, forever changing her life.

The December 30 episode focused primarily on Miranda, and it's a good thing it did; the writers stopped tiptoeing around Nixon's queerness, actively including it in the show. She and her wife, Christine Marinoni, started dating each other in 2004 after she separated from her husband of over 15 years. She's been labeled and has labeled herself as a lesbian or bisexual in the past, but as of 2018, she started referring to herself simply as queer, as is her right.

As was always the case with "SATC," Michael Patrick King would incorporate aspects of the actresses into their characters. According to Kristen Davis, he calls it bespoke writing. Nixon felt a minimal connection to Miranda at the start of the series beyond their respective intellectual prowess, but as the show continued, the line began to blur. I'm pretty sure that Venn diagram is now almost a circle.

And what a relief!

Miranda has always been queer coded and played by a queer actress. So why not make her canonically queer?

On top of Charlotte's (Kristen Davis) growing understanding of her child's developing identity, "Tragically Hip" hit me particularly hard. It made me wonder, in matters of representation, how liberating is it to finally see your personal struggle with sexuality in a show that set the binary standard in your youth?

Tragically Hip

Carrie has to have hip surgery. After hinting at some kind of chronic back pain, we find out that she has an undiagnosed congenital birth defect. A little light surgery and a couple of months of recovery should have her back up and running in Manolos. But for the time being, she's reliant on Charlotte, Anthony, and Miranda. And while it seems like this is going to be the most significant part of the episode, it isn't.

I had expected to see a lot of discourse around aging. The episode starts with Carrie shrugging off her chronic pain as "old lady back," which she learned through Google. Thankfully, Seema puts Carrie in her place and makes her an appointment with her cousin, the orthopedist. It all starts with seeing the foyer of Carrie's brownstone for the first time in the series' history, arguably the perfect "in" to start discussing the fact that Carrie's still living in the same apartment she's had for the last 30 years. But not so.

She schedules the surgery, Miranda's drinking raises eyebrows at lunch, and Charlotte does what she does best: organize. She comes up with a schedule by way of Excel whereby they can all share Carrie duty during her convalescence.

What comes next is a bit more complicated.

Charlotte gets blindsided during a meeting with her PTA group, finding out that Rose now goes by Rock (​​Alexa Swinton), and neither she nor Harry had any idea. Everyone at school, however, including the teachers and other parents, is aware. Miranda, meanwhile, unpacks an Amazon order to find a book she has no memory of ordering: Holly Whitaker's "Quit Like A Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol." She automatically assumes Charlotte is the culprit.

Neither woman knows how to navigate these situations, though for vastly different reasons. Miranda, arguably, is in denial. As we later learn, she ordered the book herself while she was drunk. This was the impetus for her to quit on the spot. Charlotte, on the other hand, truly just doesn't want to f*** up. She wants to do right by Rock, make sure she's taking this seriously and looking out for her child's best interests, but she's also trying to navigate completely uncharted waters she doesn't understand whatsoever.

Let's Talk About Charlotte

Charlotte may sometimes be a bit of a prissy pain in the ass, and she may not always say the right thing, but my god that woman tries harder than anyone to do the right thing and do it correctly. In "Valley of the Twenty-Something Guys" back at the start of season 1, she has to consult the ladies when anal sex is presented by the guy she was dating. It was stressful enough that a cigarette was in order, according to Carrie. But she took their information and made an educated decision that she's not ready for that yet, but may be eventually.

Flash forward to her turning her nose up at the infamous Rabbit vibrator only to wind up getting one and changing her whole outlook on masturbation. When Trey MacDougal (the incomparable Kyle MacLachlan) couldn't maintain an erection, Charlotte learned everything she could about erectile dysfunction including potential solutions, potential causes, and wanted to discuss things in a loving and safe space for Trey. Eventually, she went way outside her comfort zone and took a little advice from the only person who could actually teach her what she needed to know: Sam Jones. In the season 4 episode "Baby, Talk is Cheap," she fully admits to giving Trey rim jobs while Miranda is squeamish about her new marathon partner's desire for reciprocation.

Charlotte is nothing if not a perfectionist, but that also comes with her desire to do things the right way, and the best way for everyone involved. Sometimes she loses focus of that, like with Rock not wanting to wear their coordinated dress. But now that she knows how serious this is, how much of Rock's identity is still being discovered and navigated, her goal is to do the right thing. There's just no guidebook on how to navigate this, and none of her friends have had to before, so she can't turn to them for advice like she used to. She has to navigate this situation with Harry, just the two of them. That's terrifying because she can't guarantee she won't f*** up along the way, and Rock is the one who will be the most affected by hers and Harry's missteps.

Let's Talk About Miranda

The biggest thing to happen in this episode happens to Miranda, and it changes everything.

This is the part I've been both dreading and excited to write about since watching the episode two weeks ago. All of that to say, stuff's about to get real personal.

Che (Sara Ramírez) and Miranda have been flirting pretty much since they met and Miranda earned the nickname Rambo. They shotgunned after Che's comedy show, have chatted periodically since, and now, after Carrie's surgery, they had lunch together. Che told Miranda all about their experience coming out as a lesbian, followed by the liberation of coming out as non-binary.

Che talks about their previous self almost in the third person. "Cheryl used to hold everything in," they said. "All that unhappiness and shame just twisted up in there, just, yeah, making her physically and emotionally constipated. Just lying to herself and everyone else. Just feeling so trapped."

"But now," they continued, "now I just let it all out."

Miranda likened it to her decision to quit working in corporate law, but every syllable was tinged with a very specific hint of denial. The kind where you know what you're saying isn't the whole truth or even your honest reality, but it's as close as you're able to get for the moment.

Then Che comes over to see Carrie while Miranda's watching her. She's taking a nap, so the two of them wind up doing shots of the tequila Che brought for Carrie in the kitchen. The sexual tension is so thick you could take a bite out of it. And then everything comes to a boil.

They have sex in the kitchen, and Miranda has not only one of the most authentic sex scenes the character's ever had but also one of the most intense and genuine orgasms in "SATC" history. No fantasy. No gloss. No goofy soundtrack or voiceover. Just the scene.

Meanwhile, Carrie wakes up from her nap and needs to pee, but Miranda's a little preoccupied having a life-changing experience. Still unable to walk unassisted, she has to pee in an empty Snapple bottle only to wind up spilling it all over herself and her bed.

What follows is both deeply relatable and profoundly upsetting.

"I'm unhappy," Miranda says through choked-back tears. "I'm not happy. Okay? I'm trapped. I hate my marriage. I hate it. I hate my life. I hate it."

All of this is shocking to Carrie, who can only chime in with "Since when?" and denial when Miranda responds, "Since forever." Carrie then asks both a very appropriate and hugely painful question: "Why didn't you say anything?"

"What would I say," Miranda responds. "That I don't want to be this person anymore? That I want to be something more. That this isn't enough." Her voice cracks, and what seeps through isn't just anger and sadness but abject fear and shame.

They discuss Miranda's drinking, and she denies having a problem. "What about that other activity in the kitchen," Carrie asks. "I don't know if I want to quit that," Miranda replies. "I've never felt like that. In my life."

Fear, Shame, and Coming Out

One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was coming out to my ex.

I had lived the majority of my life by that point (28 years) terrified of my own sexuality, mostly because I didn't know what it was. I would get so confused all the time because I knew I liked guys, but I also had feelings and thoughts about women. But growing up in a time and a place where the gender and sexuality binaries were still very much the heavily enforced status quo meant that the discourse in my head was devoid of options. I somehow knew I wasn't a lesbian, but I didn't only like men.

I'd wonder, does that mean I'm bisexual? No, that doesn't feel right either. What am I? Who am I?

When I was about 16, the boy I was dating was the first person I opened up to about these feelings. His reaction was to get angry with me and try to coerce me to watch lesbian porn in front of him and tell him how it made me feel. He acted as if I had been lying to him, and made me feel so ashamed. I just backed down and told him I must've been wrong. I never brought it up with anyone again until I was about 28 years old in a long-term relationship.

I first had a very emotional breakthrough with a good friend of mine that I may be bisexual. Later, I spoke with one of my closest friends, Nikita, who very calmly said, "Yeah, I know." I was stunned. She taught me about pansexuality, and it was then that everything clicked. It's because of her that I found myself, in a way.

Later, I told my boyfriend at the time who I was living with that I was not straight but pansexual. His reaction was defensive and fearful. He was convinced this meant I was going to leave him in order to experiment. What should have been a moment to free myself of the shame and lies I had been living with for 28 years turned into having to ease his fears. No matter how many times I told him that I loved him and wasn't going anywhere, that I chose him, it didn't matter. His insecurity took precedent over my coming out. He would later warm up to it a bit more and be a bit more supportive, but only as much as I had already come to expect, which wasn't a lot. There was already a fair bit of baggage there that I was dealing with because of his infidelities, so, in hindsight, it was pretty messed up.

Miranda has always had sex scenes on the show, but nothing like this. It felt real. It felt like a release. And while I was watching this incredible moment, all I could feel was shame and fear.

That Funny Feeling

The December 30 episode destroyed me for a good long while after I watched it, but it took until a few minutes after it was done to realize why.

My husband, Jon, had been watching along from the kitchen table directly behind me, sitting on the couch. I did my usual thing of talking to the TV — "Miranda, you're still married," and "Miranda, Carrie's literally calling for you!" — and he watched quietly, as he normally does. When it was over, all I could think about is how different this was from any sex scene Miranda had ever had on the original series. That getting to watch what felt like a genuine sex scene between a woman and a non-binary person was almost revolutionary. And instead of relishing the moment, I felt terrified.

I walked into the kitchen, stopped, and turned to face Jon only to immediately look at the floor, fiddle with my hands, and sheepishly ask, "Can I talk to you about something?" Of course, he said of course. I started to feel myself shutting down, and pushed through it saying that that scene made me feel really strange and it scared me.

I'm a 33-year-old married woman with a loving and very healthy relationship, and the only words I could really stomach was "this made me feel funny." We talked about it for a while, and it turned out that, to no one's surprise, I thought the scene was hot. And because of everything I've experienced around my own sexuality and my own coming out, the sensation was immediately followed by abject fear and shame. All of a sudden, I was 16 again, and I was confused about who I was.

We talked about it for a little while. Jon held my hand while I cried, he reassured me that even if I did realize later in life that I am a lesbian, he would love and support me just the same. But then I was able to shift aside the panic and confusion and identify what was really going on in my brain.

Like so many other people, I've gotten used to seeing the binary represented as the norm; there's very little room for nuance when it comes to characters' sexuality in film and television. Even the most well-intentioned portrayals of queerness tend to fall on the straight or gay/lesbian binary, so bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, and the like either just get ignored, are tokenized, or fetishized. We feel like an afterthought. Christ, "SATC" first interacted with bisexuality by essentially calling it a myth and totally disregarding it. Add to that the virulent biphobia in the LGBTQ+ community itself along with the relentless assumptions made by the general public since I'm in a straight-presenting marriage, and it's a minefield. And this is what I grew up with.

It's no wonder I had an intense reaction watching this scene.

I'm just thankful that I have Jon. He comforts me when I'm scared, and makes me feel safe to be myself. To remind me that my sexuality isn't a party trick, a threat, or something that I put away the day we got married. It's just part of the fabric of me.

Miranda's queerness is part of the fabric of her, only now she's having the realization at 55 that I had at 28. With a husband and a teenaged son. With a life. The binary is so ingrained in her (and Charlotte and Carrie) that she can't even wrap her head around what this means. Her very sense of self has just been turned upside-down, and she has to redefine that by first dismantling everything she's spent a lifetime building. It doesn't help that Carrie once had such a volatile reaction to bisexuality, one that Samantha Jones of all people supported.

But now everything is about to change.


After the intensity of the previous episode, this one seemed to opt for a lighter approach to heavier topics.

Rock became a bit more comfortable openly stating their wants and needs, which only seemed to add to Charlotte's apprehension. They want to redecorate, they no longer want her collection of dolls that are actually super racist, and they want to cut their hair short. None of this is what Charlotte had planned for.

Meanwhile, Carrie's new apartment is the bane of her existence, and she doesn't quite know how to tell Seema. Or how to stop the phantom beeping that is most likely the dishwasher. Her attempt to grab things out of storage leads to accidentally finding Big's records and being hit with a rush of sadness like a freight train. Thankfully, Charlotte was there, this time full of support and nary a centering of self to be seen.

Miranda, meanwhile, hasn't said a word of her infidelity to Steve or Charlotte, but she has successfully quit drinking. In the meantime, she's left struggling with the existential dread of having to be honest not only with her loved ones but, scariest of all, with herself.

Know who else has to reckon with her existential dread? None other than Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman)! I am thrilled that Nya was finally given some air time completely divorced from Miranda. She and her husband, Andre Rashad Wallace (LeRoy McClain) go to dinner with some friends, one of whom is mildly disdainfully known as Fertile Myrtle (Mandi Masden). You see, Myrtle and her husband, Robert (Akim Black), just keep having kids. The conversation always manages to turn back to kids and procreation, a subject Nya is feeling increasingly insecure about. She isn't ready to have that conversation with her husband because she isn't really 100% sure she's ready to have that conversation with herself, either. But she has a good feeling IVF isn't for her. And, as a result, motherhood may wind up being off the table.

Thankfully, after having sex and laying there, vulnerable, she not-so-subtly says she doesn't really want to do IVF anymore. She admits she's been thinking about it for a while, but was nervous about Andre's reaction. He's full of love and support, reassuring her that he's got her, no matter what. She has nothing to be nervous about.

Later on in the episode, Carrie winds up accompanying Seema to her family's Diwali celebration — she got permission to wear a saree, so of course, she was in. She even gets to meet Seema's parents played by Madhur Jaffrey and Ajay Mehta (who, incidentally, played the busboy that kissed Samantha in "They Shoot Single People, Don't They?" when she was stood up by "We" William). They seem to think Seema's in a relationship with a fictional man named ... well, I can't even remember his name now. But it doesn't matter. He's a defense mechanism, not unlike a shield, and he's one Seema's perfectly happy to wield.

It's on the car ride home while discussing the mystical man in Seema's life, her anthropomorphic defense mechanism, that Carrie finally musters the courage to admit she hates the apartment. Lo and behold, Seema's reaction is calm, collected, and supportive — they'll just sell it.

Occam's Razor (Sort Of)

While having lunch in the park, Miranda admits to Charlotte that she had sex with Che. In Carrie's kitchen. While she was napping and needed her help.

If you've seen "SATC," you remember how Charlotte reacted to Carrie's affair with a then-married Big when she finally found out. There's a reason she was the last to know. She took it personally, at the time a blushing bride herself about to be married who had very prescribed views about matrimony. She still had her perfect little picture in her head, with no room for nuance.

As previously mentioned, Charlotte is nothing if not adaptable. She may be a prissy pain in the ass at times, and her shrill perfectionism can be grating, but she learns quickly, even if it means making mistakes — sometimes hurtful ones — along the way.

Charlotte's reaction to Miranda has traces of her anger towards Carrie from "Running With Scissors" in season 3. She says some hurtful things, namely bluntly asking Miranda if she's gay now. Miranda's attempt to storm off is halted by a numb leg, which thankfully gives Carrie enough time to stop her from leaving and convince her to get her ass back to the table and talk to them instead of running away from this. Charlotte quickly apologizes, and explains that she doesn't understand why people can't just stay who they were? It's clearly a rhetorical question of sorts, but one that's tinged with reluctant frustration nonetheless. It all wraps up with Rock redecorating and getting the shorter hair they asked for, as Charlotte happily puts away her awful dolls that no one wants anymore.

At the end of the day, much like the repeatedly paraphrased Occam's razor, the simplest explanation is often the correct one. This week felt simple and perhaps a little light, but it actually held a really powerful release for our central characters rooted in a very simple concept — just be honest.

Sure, Seema's going to make a killing off of Carrie in commissions for two massive sales back-to-back, but the two are still becoming friends. She may not quite be ready to let down her fictional man shield, but Carrie felt empowered to be honest about her wants and needs in a home after essentially losing the one she'd spent so many years building with Big.

Charlotte struggled to find the answer for how to best navigate Rock's growing sense of self only to realize openness, a willingness to learn, and compassion were the only tools she needed in her arsenal. And she already had those in spades. She just needs to give them a safe and loving space, and the rest will come in time. She doesn't have to do anything but love her kid, which she already knows how to do.

Nya realized that keeping her feelings to herself was only negatively impacting her marriage and her relationship with her husband. Keeping things like that to yourself erodes trust, whether you like it or not. In opening up, she not only released so much of the burden she was unnecessarily carrying on her own shoulders but let her partner know that she was scared and hurting. Now he can support her in a real way.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Miranda's?

And Miranda ... well, Miranda has a lot of work to do. And it's not going to be easy. But the first step is to talk to Steve. For all of their faults as a couple, and all of their shortcomings as individuals — they're human, they're imperfect, this is fine! — they do still love each other. That doesn't just go away, even if you fall out of love with someone. Miranda admitted to being unhappy and hating her marriage, but that doesn't mean she doesn't love Steve. It just means things have changed, and such is life.

Of every character on the show, Miranda may be the most stubborn and the least willing to change or adapt. She's set in her ways and is as stubborn as a mule when it comes to budging on anything. Maybe it's because she's a lawyer, or it's why she became a lawyer. Who knows? The point is, no one can make Miranda do anything until she's ready, and sometimes that decision to do something is still rather reluctant.

I believe her when she says this has been the case since forever. I remember pretending to be happy in my very hetero-presenting life, and all the while I was miserable. But I couldn't identify why. I couldn't even tell that I was lying to myself, to tell you the truth. It was the life I thought I wanted to lead because it's what I grew up being told I should want. By movies, music, magazines, my friends, pop culture, etc. Hell, even my parents to some extent. You're supposed to do A, B, and C. Follow these steps to win the game of Life. But I could never follow the rules. At least not for too long. This one time when I was in university, I went shopping for new clothes with my mom and wound up falling apart in the process. Nothing looked like or felt like me. Everything was too girly, too bright, too frilly or tight. It was all just wrong, but it was all there seemed to be. So I thought I had to wear all of the low-cut tops, and straighten my naturally black hair, put on loads of makeup, and go out to bars and dance with my girlfriends. I felt like I was living in someone else's idea of me, and it got to a point where it was excruciating to keep pretending. It wasn't until I met my husband that I really started to feel safe enough to be myself. My queer, undercut and bleach-tressed, monochromatic-clad, swearing, loving, absurd self. Meeting him felt like an electric shock, and nothing was the same after that.

That's what Miranda had with Che. Whatever happens now, she can't go back to living the lie she thought was her life. No matter how much she may want to talk herself out of the confrontation, once her mind's made up, her mind's made up. There's no turning back now. The question is, how long will she fight her gut instead of opting for the simplest answer — be honest.