When “Sex and the City” first premiered in June 1998, it confounded audiences. It was a show focused on the intricacies of women living single, sex-positive metropolitan lives. Because of this, “Sex and the City” got a lot of flak for being depraved. Some said it was a badly written and directed show, others felt they had no desire to watch a bunch of white friends running around New York complaining about love.
Whether or not you liked the show, it’s undeniable that it broke the boundaries of women in a post-feminist world, an important accomplishment. Yes, at times it was hokey. And yes, sometimes watching it simultaneously feels like a warm blanket on a bed of fire ants. But the point is not about the singularity of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha or Charlotte. The point isn’t even the sex or the city, really. The point is that it tells women’s stories (women that aren’t just 21, to boot), in an affirmatively female-positive way. It’s not a sugar-coated dream world. It’s the New York City jungle. And in this jungle, women aren’t the pawns, they’re the players.
With this in mind, whether you’re jumping into “Sex and the City” for the first time, or simply catching up on old favorites, below is a list of the 10 best episodes of the show:
10. “The Drought” (Season 1, Episode 11)
This is a solid character development episode. Samantha’s plot with the yoga teacher shows her sexual nature, Charlotte exhibits just the right amount of mania with a new beau and Carrie farts in bed in front of Mr. Big, which results in a lot of complaining.
9. “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” (Season 3, Episode 18)
This episode succeeds for this reason alone: Miranda’s anxiety that the Chinese take-out lady is laughing at her is a plot that any worrying heart can surely relate to.
8. “The Freak Show” (Season 2, Episode 3)
This episode is extremely nuanced in the way it tackles the freakiness in all of us. Miranda and Carrie both date different kinds of weirdos, and Carrie becomes so intent on finding a flaw in a nice guy that she herself becomes a freak.
7. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Carrie dates a hot baseball player, but then runs away from him because she still loves Mr. Big (mainly because she is dramatic as hell).
6. “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” (Season 4, Episode 11)
Miranda is pregnant with Steve’s child, but wants an abortion, so Charlotte gets very cranky. Carrie weirdly lies to Aidan about having an abortion herself, eventually fessing up at the end that she lied.
5. “Hot Child in the City” (Season 3, Episode 15)
Samantha feuds with a 13-year-old socialite, and Carrie smokes pot with a man that still lives with his parents. Plus, Miranda gets adult braces. Remarkable.
4. “Twenty-Something Girls vs. Thirty-Something Women” (Season 2, Episode 17)
The crew visits the Hamptons, resulting in one of Charlotte’s most adventurous plots ever (she gets crabs), and one of the worst Carrie moments of the whole series: she sees that Mr. Big is engaged and pukes on the beach. Remember when I said this show was sometimes a warm blanket on a bed of fire ants?
3. “Ex and the City” (Season 2, Episode 18)
I proudly do not ship Big and Carrie as a couple, but this episode highlights that they do work well as friends. Plus, Samantha’s date with “Mr. Cocky” is hilarious, and there’s nothing better than Miranda and Steve rekindling their romance.
2. “The Post-It Always Sticks Twice” (Season 6, Episode 7)
Charlotte is engaged to Harry, a true mensch. At the same time, Carrie is broken up on a Post-It by Berger, resulting in a night out where pot is bought. Then they almost get arrested. Intrigue!
1. “I Heart NY” (Season 4, Episode 18)
Mr. Big is leaving New York for the West Coast, so Carrie and him share one last slow dance to Andy William’s “Moon River” on an ancient record player in his boxed-up apartment. I rarely cry in real life, but this scene really does sneak up on you.