“Once upon a time on a small island not too far away, there lived four smart, beautiful women who were all very good friends.”
After looking at the shows currently covered by my Television Nostalgia posts I noticed another glaring omission of one of my favourite television series of the last 20 years and that’s Sex and the City (it’s hard to believe it’s already been a decade since it ended). Sex and the City arrived on television screens in 1998 and soon had everyone talking. Unlike any other show, it wasn’t afraid to talk about sex from a woman’s perspective. Its four leads were strong, intelligent, sexy women, through whom the audience saw sex from a new viewpoint on television. Not only that but the writing was always brilliant – sharp, witty and intelligent, which made the show about so much more than sex and at its heart its success came down to the audience’s love of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. We cared about them and wanted to spend time in their lives (not to mention seeing their gorgeous clothes and shoes)!
As usual, here are my ten favourite episodes of the series. I’ll caveat the list by saying I always loved Carrie and Big and therefore there may be a slight bias towards key episodes for them above those of the other girls. As always let me know your favourites.
1. I Heart NY (season 4 finale)
This is an easy choice for my favourite episode of Sex and the City and always has been. More than anything else the episode has a sense of hope about it that I love (made all the more poignant in hindsight by 9/11). We see Miranda and Steve become parents and the departure of Mr Big from NYC after one last night of Old New York style with Carrie. Watching them dance to Moon River (one of my favourite songs) is a lovely moment, as is watching Carrie walk down the street in that gorgeous coat in to a new season in the city.
2. A Woman’s Right to Shoes (season 6)
This episode always sticks in my mind and the older I get the more I appreciate it. After spending yet more time and money celebrating another baby shower Carrie’s shoes are stolen at the party. The judgemental attitude of her friend in the cost of her shoes and her life choices has always annoyed me and Carrie’s response – to tell her she is marrying herself and her gift list is at Manolo Blahnik, so that she has to buy her replacement shoes is a joyous moment!
3. The Drought (season 1)
This is probably my favourite season one episode, in which Miranda is sexually frustrated, Samantha is attempting tantric celibacy for a man and Carries farts in bed. The jokey relationship between Carrie and Big was always one of he highlights for me and his trick with the woopey cushion is still very funny and was probably when I hoped they’d stay together. Throw in the sexual escapades of Carrie’s neighbours, who provide an incredible show for the girls and you have an episode that never fails to make me laugh.
4. Belles of the Balls (season 4)
I think most fans of the show wanted to see Big and Aidan confront each other and this episode was a great way to do it. Seeing them roll around in the mud in the countryside together is such a great scene. It’s so childish but appropriate. I also love how they then simply move on, with Big hung up over the way another woman is treating him, telling all to Aidan.
5. The Big Journey (season 5)
Samantha and Carrie take a train to San Francisco, which isn’t as luxurious as they expected and Mr Big ruins Carrie’s plans for sex, by revealing he’s read her book and wants to talk through how he treated her! It’s nice to see Mr Big finally growing up a bit and I loved Carrie being upstaged by a dog!
6. Where There’s Smoke (season 3)
This opener to the third season has a lot of my favourite moments in it. Samantha and the fireman in the fire station will always be memorable, as will drunken Charlotte’s declaration that she’s getting married that year. Steve looking after Miranda after her eye operation is also a very sweet storyline and Carrie shouting she lost her Choo on missing the ferry is a great example of the superb, witty quality of the writing of the show.
7. An American Girl In Paris (season 6/series finale)
It may be a bit cheesy but I still love the season finale and would have been happy for Sex and the City to end here. Yes, the show had celebrated women’s independence, but I always hoped for a romantic ending for Carrie and Big and I’m thrilled with the ending. For better or worse they were meant to be together. After six years all the girls have moved forward and end in exactly the place they should be – Miranda happier in her work and home life, Charlotte and Harry awaiting the arrival of her adopted daughter and Samantha enjoying life with Smith Jared. Plus what better way to end than with Carrie swinging a Manolo bag down Manhattan?!
8. The Good Fight (season 4)
I loved Aidan and Carrie’s fight in the bathroom as it always seemed very real and true to life in its ordinariness. Then there is the astonishing choice of Trey to buy Charlotte a cardboard baby – who would ever do that really?! The episode also ends with one of my favourite Samantha moments, when we see her dance with Richard by the poolside as Sade plays on the soundtrack.
9. The Domino Effect (season 6)
Mr Big returns to New York for heart surgery and Carrie is determined to take care of him. It’s again a lovely episode in which we see just how close they have always been. Then there is the superb moment when Steve walks in on Miranda having hot sex with Doctor Robert and ends up with a tampon up his nose and Samantha finally starts to settle in to life with Smith Jared.
10. Ring A Ding Ding (season 4)
Charlotte has always been my least favourite of the girls in terms of personality and I love this episode in which Carrie needs money to stay in her apartment and is hurt that Charlotte doesn’t offer to help. As she says, she wouldn’t have taken it, but she could have offered. It’s such a real, honest argument between them and the end where Charlotte gives Carrie her ring is a lovely gesture of friendship. Plus the line in which Carrie says she will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes is a classic!
As with most shows, picking ten is not easy so I have to give honourable mentions to A Vogue Idea (“I’m drunk at Vogue”), The Real Me (where Carrie falls on the cat walk), Splat! (in which Carrie decides to leave NYC), The Catch (Charlotte’s wedding to Harry), Cock A Doodle Do (where Carrie & Big take an unexpected plunge in to the lake), What Goes Around Comes Around (Sam Jones meets Sam Jones) and The Baby Shower (Sam takes booze as a gift!). Sex & The City throughout its run always remained thought-provoking, entertaining and highlighted the importance of good friends. It will always be one of my favourites, which I’ll return to for years to come.
Feel free to comment on your own favourite episodes.