Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: In anticipation of Mad Men’s final episodes, special guest appearances from the show’s stars from before they went to work at Sterling Cooper & Partners.
In a different life, Roger Sterling could have been a politician. He has sexy yet distinguished good looks. He knows how to work a room, and he’s right at home in the good-old-boy networks that mold political pretenders into contenders. So it’s easy to watch John Slattery’s two-episode arc from the third season of Sex And The City—in which he plays a candidate for New York City comptroller—and see, in retrospect, the seeds of Roger Sterling. The ingredients are there. The smoothness, the drunkenness, the need for a woman on his arm. You can witness them all in a single five-second GIF:
That glimpse of boozy charm comes from Slattery’s last appearance as politico Bill Kelley on Sex And The City. Slattery’s swan song, “Politically Erect,” is the more famous episode of his run because it’s the one in which Kelley asks Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) to pee on him.
He asks politely, in a tender post-coital moment, carefully laying out his vision: “I would love to get you in the shower. Get each other all fresh and clean. And then let you pee on me.” It’s a relatively minor kink as these things go, but because Carrie is the most oblivious and prudish sex columnist in New York, she’s horrified. Dan Savage she ain’t.
The storyline wraps up with Kelley dumping Carrie, not because of her urinary qualms, but because his campaign advisors don’t like their candidate cavorting with a woman who writes about sex in the newspaper. Carrie exacts revenge by publishing a column about her pee-freak politician friend, omitting his name but secure in the knowledge that the chattering class will connect the dots. (At no point in the series does Carrie earnestly confront the possibility that her dating woes could be tied to her habit of airing her boyfriends’ dirty laundry in print.)
It’s not a great episode of Sex And The City—although Miranda’s storyline provides a welcome infusion of emotional honesty, as is often the case—yet it’s still worthwhile to watch Slattery, pre-Mad Men, perfecting the art of the deadpan. At a fundraiser for his comptroller campaign, Kelley strikes up a conversation with Carrie’s gay friend Stanford, who says, “I represent the queer vote. If you can carry Chelsea, you’ve got the city locked up.” Kelley smirks and replies, “I’m not worried about Chelsea. Have you seen my ass?” Roger Sterling couldn’t have said it better himself.
Availability: “Politically Erect” is available for streaming on HBO Go and on the Sex And The City season-three DVD set.