Aidan Shaw sucks. I’m sorry, he just does. I’m a Sex and the City truther.
Aidan is the ultimate Tommy-Bahama-shirt-wearing, turquoise-jewelry-bedecked nightmare. He is the guy who has not left his house in a full week because “home is where the heart is.” He is the touchy-feely stepdad who legit just walks into your room without asking your permission.
I only discovered this was an unpopular opinion from the hailstorm of angry comments I got when I ranked Carrie‘s boyfriends, and figured I should elaborate on why he sucks for Carrie. Look, it’s not even John Corbett’s fault. He’s great in those Applebee’s commercials! He was just doomed to fail!
First of all, the only reason for Aidan to exist in the first place was to give the show a foil for Big in every way. Say what you want about Big’s semi-sociopathic disregard for Carrie (in the later seasons; in the earlier ones she sort of acted wack, if you rewatch it), but here are the Big characteristics that the writers set out to reverse in Aidan. Ready? Coolness. Cynicism. Classy dresser. Great taste in restaurants and nightlife. Sense of humour. Perpetual bachelorhood reminiscent of a rakish 1950s male lead. Rich and enjoys his wealth openly.
What are the opposite of these? Uncoolness. Naivete. Lame wardrobe and gross turquoise jewelry. No sense of glamour or taste. No sense of humour. Serial monogamist. Rich and puts on this whole “lowly craftsman” act because he makes his money by constructing bulky teak furniture that makes me want to hawk up a hairball.
Add it all up and it’s practically unfair, like pitting this:
The dynamic of Aidan and Carrie’s relationship was meant to funhouse-reflect Carrie and Big’s: Aidan is in the needy role; Carrie is now in the aloof role. But how perfectly willing Aidan is to settle for this over and over is equally as sad as how willing Carrie was to settle for Big’s noncommittal bullshit. For some reason, when women do that, it’s seen as unfortunate, crazy, and pathetic, but when men do it, they’re “sensitive” or “caring” or “sweet.” In actuality, nobody — neither men nor women — should repeatedly let someone use their heart as a place to wipe the dirt off their Manolos. Everyone who takes issue with the unequal relationship between Big and Carrie should have the same issue with Aidan and Carrie, just gender-flipped.
Besides, Aidan’s no martyr! He’s just as judgmental and self-interested as the rest of the characters; he just obscures it under layers of musk and wood chips. He clearly does all he can to mold Carrie into some archetype of the barefoot, braless prairie woman he really wants. He’ll make her spend a summer weekend at his shack in Upper Shit Village, New York, with no Internet or air conditioning, and he won’t spend three hours at a club she wants to go to on Friday night. The same attributes Big loves about Carrie — love of glamour/status, inability to settle, crazy wardrobe choices — Aidan aims to kill with kindness. Are those traits totally annoying? Yes! But we all have annoying traits, and (not to get all Lifetime Original Movie on you, but) we all deserve to be loved for them, not in spite of them.
My main point here is that Aidan and Big are both extremes. As far as Aidan is concerned, “boundaries” are just a bunch of walls between us, bro. Simply giving people the space they need to not get sick of him is something he considers “game playing.” He speaks in sound bites of patronizing, treacly bullshit like, “You never let me hold you anymore,” and, “You gave me a key, but when are you gonna let me in here, huh?” while pointing to his heart. He’s the onscreen embodiment of the ultimate mid-30s single woman’s nightmare of exactly who or what you should settle for. “Nice” is just not a good-enough reason to marry somebody unless you are facing certain death or moving back home with your mother.
As Samantha puts it in that one episode where she can’t hang up her curtains and has the flu (What am I doing with my life?), “There are men who hold your hand and men that fuck you.” Carrie thinks in response: I’ve slept with both of them in the past 36 hours. But we should be able to have our cake and also fuck our cake. Just because you think Big is an asshole to Carrie doesn’t mean you have to delude yourself into thinking Aidan’s her — or your — dream man, when there are plenty of men out there who are capable of both hand-holding and fucking.
Just look at this idiot.
Oh, and let’s not forget that he makes out with Carrie in Abu Dhabi when he’s married and has kids with another woman. Yes, the movies count.
This article was originally published on cosmopolitan.com
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