Sex and the City probably qualifies as “underrated” these days. That’s a description that is probably too often applied to genuinely mediocre properties, but Sex and the City today is commonly used as a punchline. A show about women who talk like the middle aged gay men who wrote for them that’s frequently taken to task for “not aging well” by media illeterate Op-Ed writers. I could write a whole separate blog post about this that boils down to “having characters with wrongheaded beliefs isn’t the same as advocating for them”, but today I want to talk about Steve’s dark streak.
Steve is the main love interest of one of our leads, Miranda Hobbes, and he’s basically the opposite of her. He’s a slob with zero ambition, is a bit dim witted, lacks maturity, but is easy going and can be a calming presence, which is perfect for the high-strung Miranda. They don’t exactly have a sparkling sexual chemistry either as they probably have the most bedroom troubles of any of the show’s main pairings (not counting Trey and Charlotte of course), but despite all that, Miranda more or less settles for him at the end of the series. It’s not exactly a stroybook ending, but it feels real in a way that Sex and the City sometimes can be at its best. What doesn’t feel real is the way the show treats one of Steve’s many flaws.
Steve’s most memorable sins to me are cheating on Miranda, being threatened by her career, ignoring her concerns about not wanting a baby while watching Scooby Doo with the volume too high for her to do any work in a weird little boy outfit (this one’s a deeper cut, but it’s incredible), and most bizzarely leaving “skid marks” (poop stains) in his underwear for her to clean. This is the weirdest one to me, because it’s this glaring flaw the show barely touches on in the episode its talked about, and kinda treats as an uncomfortable sign of intimacy rather than for what it was. It’s another in a long string of aspects of being with Steve to show the imperfections of long-term relationships, but here we have a very odd false note.
Think about it, Steve’s a grown man, and the implication here is that he doesn’t bother to wipe his ass. The use of toilet paper is just something he can’t be bothered with, so much so that he feels comfortable letting his girlfriend clean his dirty underwear for him. He goes about his day wearing underwear that presses into his unclean bottom, presumably letting the smell fester and grow as he interacts with his bar patrons. Does he take a private joy in this? I would posit no, I think he honestly doesn’t care enough to even take joy in the discomfort he’s causing those around him with his messy bottom. It’s worth noting, the episode where we discover Steve’s disgusting secret is one episode apart from Miranda begging Steve to turn down his loud Scooby Doo cartoon so that she can continue to work.
The skid marks sub-plot was so revolting that Steve’s actor begged the writers not to include it, and I can’t blame him. It’s ultimately just a sign of the writers missing the mark on the main theme of his relationship with Miranda. It’s supposed to be the most down to Earth, realistic depiction of what a relationship is like between two very different people. He cheated on her, he has issues with her career aspirations, they have different ideas about when to have a baby, he doesn’t wipe his ass when he poops – see that last one is just so weird right? It was meant to show life with Steve would always be imperfect, but in this instance, they made a bizarre choice in depicting that. Miranda didn’t just settle with a flawed man, she settled for a flawed man who walks around with an unclean butt, who soils his underwear, and who doesn’t mind letting his girlfriend clean his clothes for him despite this. When I realized where they were going with Steve, a seemingly normal every-man with a dark streak, I didn’t think that’d extend to his underwear too.
Quote of the Day:
“It was then when Miranda realized, she may have already had a baby in her house…”
Carrie, Sex and the City