Love & Sex

I Did It for Science: Sex and the City Marathon

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INTRODUCTION:

I have been deprived of cable television for most of my adult life, so I was never exposed to Sex and the City fever. For the most part, I was busy watching Charlie Rose explore the human genome project while Midwestern soccer moms watched Carrie Bradshaw weigh the pros and cons of golden showers. But now I can finally catch up, thanks to a new DVD set that collects the complete series. Question is, can I catch up all in one sitting? Is there a point where a wildly popular TV series fails as entertainment and becomes torture? Would countless hours of watching fictional New Yorkers fall in love, have sex and fall out of love, induce catharsis or madness?

Materials:
Please list all the materials required for this experiment (including, if applicable, how they were obtained).

  – DVD player
  – Sex and the City: the Complete Series DVD set
  – Turbo coffee (one large cup)
  – Pot cookie (one, received as a Christmas present)
  – Advil Cold & Sinus (two tablets)
  – Candy
  – Eye drops
  – Water (five bottles)

Method:
In this portion of your report, you must describe, step-by-step, what you did in your lab. It should be specific enough that someone who has not seen the lab can follow the directions and recreate the same lab.
  
The Sex and the City endurance test was almost canceled when my clout proved insufficient to procure the $299.95 DVD set for free. Luckily, Nerve's Date DVD columnist, Logan Hill, lent it to me.
    When Logan handed me the weighty set, I marveled at its fancy packaging. The nineteen discs come in a pink velvet book encased in its own lucite box. Within the book are synopses of each episode, like Cliff Notes for TV.
    Because of my part-time job, holiday plans and travel, the only realistic time to begin my experiment was at dawn on a Thursday morning. If I started at night, the risk of falling asleep would be too great. When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. and informed the dude in bed next to me that I was about to watch ninety-six episodes of Sex and the City, he put on his pants and fled from my boudoir faster than Wally West. Apparently Sex and the City is about as popular with straight men as the American Outdoorsman is with women.

Throwing on a pair of oversized pajamas I climbed under the covers and began with disc one, season one.

    Earlier, friends shared input regarding the experiment. My friend Faceboy offered tips used by amateur radio stations for staying awake during emergency operations. These included eating only high-carb, low-fat and high-protein snacks, avoiding large, heavy meals and drinking lots of water. He added that sleep is induced by low body temperature. To help stay awake it's best to keep one's environment warm, between seventy-two and seventy-four degrees. Though he pointed out the last point is kind of irrelevant in ghetto apartments, like mine, where there is never sufficient heat.
    His advice was sound, but I opted for methods used during a little sleep deprivation exercise I call "my twenties." These methods include caffeine, sugar and just the right mix of cold medicine and pot. I walked my chihuahua to Dunkin Donuts, where I grabbed a large "turbo" coffee. This, coupled with eye drops and Advil Cold and Sinus, unpeeled my eyelids from my cheekbones. The sun wasn't up yet and hipsters were just beginning their arduous walks of shame home. Waking up early just to watch TV, I felt like a child waking up early for Saturday morning cartoons. If when I was six, someone told me that in twenty-seven years, I'd get to watch TV for twenty-four hours, I would have been psyched.
    At home I placed my laptop beside me on the bed along with two remote controls — one for my pink "Princess TV" and one for my DVD player. Throwing on a pair of oversized pajamas, I climbed under the covers and began with disc one, season one.

 

Observations/Results:
Quantify the effects of the experiment.

Thursday, 7 a.m.
Season one introduces the show's protagonist, Carrie, played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Carrie is a thirtysomething, boy-crazy, sexual anthropologist — just like me! But the similarities seem to end there. She lives on the Upper East Side. I live on the Lower East Side. She buys $400 shoes. I buy socks at the 99-cent store. Yet I'm already daydreaming about my TV show. Who would play me? One of the Olsen twins? That would fit nicely with the child-star-turned-cable-TV-star trend. Speaking of which, it's 1998 in season one and Carrie's style is still a little Square Pegs. I'm growing nostalgic for the last millennium. Little backpacks and giant cellphones don't seem so bad when compared to monthly natural disasters and a lunatic president. Carrie not only smokes onscreen, you could still smoke in New York City bars back then.

7:30 a.m.
Only ninety-four episodes to go! Carrie is stuck on an a-hole named Mr. Big. He blows smoke up her ass when he tells her, "There are so many goddamned gorgeous women in this city, but after a while you just wanna be with one that makes you laugh." I've heard that line. Maybe straight men hate this show because it portrays them as the evil svengalis they often are. Either that, or they're depicted as needy and weak like Carrie's friend, Skipper.

8:30 a.m.
Samantha, Carrie's "loose" friend, bones a hot Irish doorman. The sight of his nubile, pasty chest is arousing. This show is actually jackoff material for straight women.

9 a.m.
Do people in Nebraska think this is how New Yorkers live? The women on this show work about as much as Mr. Rogers. Miranda, Carrie's nerdy friend, is supposedly a high-powered attorney, but I've yet to see her do a stitch of work. They all have jobs, but they spend most of their time just hangin' out and shootin' the shit. No one in New York has this much time on their hands except for socialites. Even so, I like the show.

Episode eight begs the question, "Are three-ways the blowjobs of the nineties?"

Carrie and Samantha are boning twentysomething men. This is a phenomenon that's taken hold of my thirtysomething friends lately, so I can relate. The club Torch is featured in this episode. Torch was once a happening club in my neighborhood until, fittingly, it burned down. Once I tried to gain entry there while wearing a Teletubby costume and was refused on the grounds that I had no I.D.

11 a.m.
I'm still really enjoying the show, though it unrealistically depicts Carrie typing her column in a tube top and full makeup. If readers saw what I look like when I'm typing I'd never get laid again. Episode eight begs the question, "Are three-ways the blowjobs of the nineties?" Now that it's 2006, I'll have to say they were. I had two three-ways in the nineties, though I was drinking a lot more back then.
    Carrie sleeps with Mr. Big on the first date. Now he's withholding and cold. It's like watching a mirror image of myself. I don't learn from my mistakes. Maybe I'll learn from Carrie's.

12 p.m.
I start sobbing because Carrie is unable to date "the new Yankee" because of her misguided love for Big.
    Tanya calls. I say, "Please come over. I'm lonely."
    "Is it okay if we take a Passions break at two?" she asks.
    "I can't take a break," I say. "Come after Passions."

2 p.m.
I eat a pot cookie. I was only going to eat half, but then I thought, mmm, a cookie. Boy, am I stoned. Perfect timing. Carrie is wearing a holographic tube top and it's more psychedelic than Laser Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon. At first I think maybe she's topless and they're blurring out her boobs. I wonder why she's topless in a restaurant. Then I realize it's a tube top.

2:30 p.m.
Miranda and her boyfriend, Steve, are eating pizza. I would kill for a slice. I cry a second time when Big takes a cellphone call while Carrie is reading a poem at a friend's wedding.

4 p.m.
Tanya calls and asks if I needed anything. "Pizza . . . and hurry!" I beg. Now she is here. I am happy to have human contact and food. Tanya is a well-informed fan of the show.
    "How can she afford an Upper East Side apartment on a writer's salary?" I ask.
    "It's rent-controlled and costs only $750 a month," Tanya says.
    "My apartment is cheaper than that."
    "See, you could be living a life of Manolo Blahniks and you didn't even know it."
    "You know what's weird? This all happened before internet dating. People still met in bars."
    "And yet they manage to be so slutty without the help of internet dating."
    "True. It was tough back then."

5:30 p.m.
My friend Tom arrives with a twenty-four-ounce Budweiser. I know I should stay away from downers, but I've been on an emotional roller coaster with this Carrie-and-Big nonsense. Big makees Carrie cry again. I say, "She's a really good actress. Look at her, she's really crying."
Tanya asks, "How long have you been watching this?"
    "Since 6 a.m."
    "I think you need to see Somewhere Tomorrow."
    "God, I have to pee again. I should be wearing diapers," I moaned. Though I'd been fast-forwarding through the theme song, my constant need to pee was slowing down the marathon.
    "Episode twenty-three!" I triumphantly announced.
    Tom trumped my boast by telling me he's on episode eighty of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. "And that's voluntary," he added.

6 p.m.
Now that people are getting off work, they're all stopping by to see me. It's a lot like being a patient in the hospital during visiting hours.

Am I going to get bedsores from this? Maybe someone should roll me over.

Is this prep work for when the experiment lands me in a mental institution? They come bearing candy, beer and chips. Monica, Brer Brian, Jim, Tanya, Michelle, Jen, Bruce and Lopi are all here. Tom has to leave.

7:30 p.m.
Poor Miranda. The stylists really made her look like a dowdy member of the royal family.
    "What are you doing with your hair, Miranda?" Tanya taunts the screen. "It looks like a boy's regular."

8:30 p.m.
Am I going to get bedsores from this? Maybe someone should roll me over. I might as well be watching Satyricon. The episodes stopped making sense long ago. The big flower-pin trend is in full swing and it's making me angry. Were the stylists playing a trick on viewers? My friend Jen fashions a giant flower out of Budweiser rings.
    Next to my bed there's a nail file, Chloraseptic, two phones, a humidifier and stationery . . . why do I need stationery? Am I planning on staying here for months?
    Bruce sits on the remote, momentarily turning the TV off, and everyone starts screaming. We recovered the remote from under his ass and things are back on track.
    Aidan, Carrie's new "good" boyfriend runs a bath for her and everyone coos.

9:30 p.m.
Everyone agrees that Aidan is good. He's a carpenter (like Jesus), and when he says to Carrie, "You make me happy," I get a total clit boner.
    There are eight people in my bedroom right now. Four of them are on my bed and we're all watching TV. This seems wrong. "Are you okay?" I ask my friend Brian, who's been totally silent."
    "Yeah. I'm just enjoying the show," he says, staring ahead with glazed eyes.
    Aha! Straight men pretend to dislike the show, but in reality they probably get more out of it than women. It's research for them.
    As Monica points out, "They say they hate it, but if you put it on, they don't move from the couch."

10 p.m.
I've developed a bump on my finger from the remote control. This is the first sign of physical deterioration I've come across. I don't want any more beer. Has Sex and the City cured my problem drinking?

11 p.m.
I feel like a combination of Howard Hughes, Gertrude Stein and Brian Wilson: Howard Hughes because I haven't left my apartment, Gertrude Stein because I'm hosting a salon and Brian Wilson because I'm still wearing my pajamas. At what point do I start actually thinking I am Gertrude Stein? Is this the onset of schizophrenia?

12 a.m.
Jen, Monica and Michelle leave. I ask Bruce, "Who would you most like to do?"
    "Well, Samantha circa Mannequin, and if that's not an option, Miranda."
    Despite the fact that the stylists have done their best to make her heinous, Miranda's got the geeky girl thing going. She's also the most bitter of the bunch, which endears her to artists.

1 a.m.
It's just Lopi, Bruce and me. It's official — Bruce is the only living person who loves TV as much as I do. Lopi grew up on a hippie commune so TV is still something new to her. I've started to lose my voice.
    "How does a person lose their voice just from watching TV?" Lopi asks.
    Carrie is dating a comic-book-store guy, but it's the most ridiculous casting ever because he looks like a male model.
    Lopi keeps threatening to leave, but because I fast-forward through the theme song, she stays. It gives her no time in between episodes to make a run for it before the next one sucks her in. She says that it's like crack, never having done crack.
    Bruce agrees, having done crack.

Bruce leaves. His equilibrium is destroyed. He falls over trying to walk through the kitchen.

1:30 a.m.
Lopi has a freakout. It happens during a scene in which Samantha's doing PR for a thirteen-year-old girl's bat mitzvah. "I can't handle this!" Lopi screams. "These people are not real . . . they can't be!" She throws on her coat and runs out the door screaming.

2 a.m.
I can barely comment on the horrible outfits anymore, my voice is so gone. Bruce and I almost fade, but then Carrie wears an outfit so bad, it reignites our fascination. It's a neon, patterned leggings-and-oversized-shirt ensemble. Bruce starts shrieking when it comes on the screen, reducing us to fits of hysterical laughter. My stomach hurts from laughing. Then Bruce points out that the outfit is Chanel! I don't believe him until he goes up to the TV and points to the tiny Chanel logo on the chest. Coco must be rolling in her grave.

3 a.m.
Bruce leaves. His equilibrium is destroyed. He falls over trying to walk through the kitchen. My roommate snaps some photos of me on his digital camera. When we look at them, we laughed uncontrollably. I look horrible, like I've just been on a meth bender. There are crumbs in my tangled hair and the bags under my eyes are enormous. I look like the missing member of the Manson family.

3:30 a.m.
My roommate goes out wearing red eyelashes and glitter. Now I know why the surrealists experimented with sleep deprivation.

4:00 a.m.
The fabric of reality has crumbled. I have thoughts, only they're narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker. She's in my head. Charlotte's husband can't get it up.

4:15 a.m.
I'm getting back under the covers.

Friday, 6 p.m.
Getting under the covers was a big mistake. I just now woke up to the sound of the show's theme song booming out of my TV. Still, I need closure. Either that or Sex and the City really is like crack. Though I've watched for twenty-two hours, two seasons remain. I need to know what happens to my TV friends. I skip to the last two episodes, hoping things will still make sense.
    Carrie is about to move to Paris with her artist boyfriend, played by Mikhail Baryshnikov (who's lookin' good). But the night before her plane leaves, Big shows up. Predictable, yes, but it hit a note. She tells him, "Too little, too late." How many times have I uttered those exact words to the Mr. Bigs of my life? Memories of my last relationship with an atoning cheater deluged my mind and opened the floodgates of tears. Soon I was crying harder than when Fonzie visited Pinky Tuscadero in the hospital. The sobbing only got worse when I discovered Samantha was

It's been twenty-four hours since I stopped watching, but Sarah Jessica Parker's voice hasn't left my head.

going through chemo for breast cancer.
    Carrie goes to Paris and Mikhail turns out to be a total dickhead. She is lonely and misses the people and city she loves.
Meanwhile, Big has resolved to get Carrie back. Scrambling for just how to go about doing it, he faces the tribunal of her friends. "You guys are the loves of her life and a guy is just happy to come in fourth," he tells them. I think about how much I love my friends and how much I love New York and I cry harder. In fact, I sob for the entire last two episodes.
    Big goes to Paris, where he declares his love for her and the two live happily ever after.

Conclusion:
Summarize your findings. Don't forget to attempt to identify possible variables that could result in different findings for others trying to recreate your test results.

It's now been a full twenty-four hours since I stopped watching the show, but Sarah Jessica Parker's voice hasn't left my head. I continually eye the pink velvet book containing the remaining unseen episodes. My desire to watch even more is either a testament to the greatness of Sex and the City or evidence of my unwavering love of television. Could this be the start of a terrible TV marathon addiction? Are the Gilmore Girls next?
    Shockingly, I escaped the experiment with only a small bump on my finger and a mild case of laryngitis. What saved my sanity was watching the show with friends who had a field day pointing out continuity errors and fashion don'ts. Had I watched the show alone I'd probably be writing this column from a padded cell.
    Though we mercilessly critiqued the show, none of us were immune to its charm. Especially me, who after so much time, felt a kinship with Carrie Bradshaw. Twenty-two hours is longer than I've spent on most relationships, so it's not surprising. Perhaps it was my oneness with the ladies of Sex and the City that brought about my eventual emotional purging. In the end, the endurance test induced a powerful catharsis wherein I laughed and cried harder than I have in years. (Note: I am still not entirely together as I write this.)
   I also noticed how dangerously close I am to becoming a New York City cliché in less expensive footwear. As my friend Jen pointed out, "If you've ever taken a sip of alcohol or had sex in New York, you're one of them."
Photos by John Pullos. I Did It for Science appears monthly.



©2005 Rev. Jen Miller and Nerve.com