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Sex and the City is finally on Netflix. Here are 5 essential episodes you need to watch

Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kristin Davis posing for a promo photo for Sex and the City.
Image via HBO

As Sex and the City made its way to Netflix’s impressive library of shows, I couldn’t help but wonder: Just how many times can one watch this show? To quote Cady Heron, the limit truly doesn’t exist. The beloved and groundbreaking HBO hit starring Sarah Jessica Parker as dysfunctional yet relatable columnist Carrie Bradshaw has been enchanting audiences since its premiere in 1998, and now, it’s available on Netflix for the world to see.

Throughout 94 episodes, fans see the romantic and professional lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, celebrating or crying with them, depending on the season. Each is great in its own way; some have great laughs, others have great drama, and they all usually have great sex. However, these five episodes are the absolute best for everyone to watch, whether they’re loyal fans or casual viewers.

They Shoot Single People, Don’t They? (Season 2, Episode 4)

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw laying on top of a newspaper in her bed in Sex and the City.
Image via HBO

Carrie Bradshaw lives everybody’s worst nightmare when she becomes the victim of a set-up. When Stanford offers her the chance to appear in an article for a magazine, supposedly titled “Single and Fabulous!,” she jumps at the chance. However, she later finds out the article is actually “Single and Fabulous?” and her disheveled, tragic appearance is on the magazine’s cover as a cautionary tale rather than a celebration of the single lifestyle.

They Shoot Single People, Don’t They? is classic Sex and the City. Sarah Jessica Parker perfectly captures Carrie’s self-destructive spiral after the magazine incident, while the three other characters deal with their fear of being alone forever in different and on-brand ways. However, this is largely a showcase for Parker, who delivers one of her finest performances on the show, as Carrie must face the reality of her situation and make the best of it. The episode ends on a classic note about how being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, and while the notion might not be groundbreaking, it’s undeniably rewarding.

Ex and the City (Season 2, Episode 18)

Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth as Carrie and Big facing each other while standing in a park in Sex and the City.
Image via HBO

The season 2 finale, Ex and the City, is all about Carrie saying goodbye to her past. After learning Big is engaged to his 25-year-old girlfriend, Natasha, Carrie deals with it as only she can. Elsewhere, Charlotte reconciles with a lost love, Miranda sleeps with Steve for the first time since their break-up, and Samantha meets Mr. Too Big.

The girls’ stories go from the funny to the heartwarming, but this episode is once again all about Carrie. Learning the great love of her life is ready to marry someone else leads her to ask the question that is burning up inside: “Why wasn’t it me?” The episode includes one of the show’s most memorable scenes, as Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte sing Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were before culminating on what should’ve been Big and Carrie’s final goodbye.

Ex and the City is among the rare episodes where Carrie actually shows growth as a character, although it’s short-lived considering the affair she later engages in with Big in season 3. Still, this episode remains one of her greatest as a character and one of the most unforgettable entries into what is one of HBO’s all-time best shows.

The Real Me (Season 4, Episode 2)

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw falling down while walking down a runway in Sex and the City.
Image via HBO

Season 4 starts in fine form by putting Carrie through the wringer. Following a birthday party from hell in the first episode, Carrie suffers another humiliation in the second one, The Real Me. When she receives an invitation to walk on a prestigious runway, Carrie is hesitant to accept. It takes some convincing, but she finally agrees, only to fall while walking in heels that are a bit too high. Elsewhere, Samantha wants to take nude pictures to celebrate her body, Miranda goes out on a date with a hunky gym instructor, and Charlotte faces her insecurities.

The Real Me is an ode to self-acceptance and love. Each girl faces and ultimately overcomes a unique fear, emerging stronger, if not necessarily wiser. Carrie, of course, gets the episode’s most cringeworthy yet memorable scene; indeed, the image of her falling on the runway has become synonymous with her chaotic character and the show itself. However, Charlotte also gets a wonderful story that adds depth to her character beyond the picture-perfect Upper East Side façade. As for Samantha, her storyline is hilarious, and the incredible Kim Cattrall further elevates it with her unique mix of confidence and humor.

I Heart NY (Season 4, Episode 18)

Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker as Samantha and Carrie looking at a pair of shoes through a window in Sex and the City.
Image via HBO

If you ever wondered what episode the now-iconic line “Hello, lover” comes from, it’s this one. Carrie delivers the line about, what else, a pair of shoes; contrary to what you might think, they’re not Manolo Blahniks but Christian Louboutins. I Heart NY focuses on Carrie and Big saying goodbye after he announces he’s leaving New York. Samantha begins to suspect Richard is cheating on her, Charlotte tries to jump back into the dating pool after her separation from Trey, and Miranda prepares to give birth.

I Heart of NY showcases the show’s fifth main character: New York City. Carrie and Big’s goodbye is okay, but the episode really thrives thanks to her storyline with Miranda. Although she’s far from a perfect friend, Carrie standing beside Miranda as she welcomes baby Brady into the world rather than spending the night with Big is among her best moments.

Samantha’s plot is also entertaining, with Cattrall effortlessly balancing the comedy in Samantha donning a Raquel Welch wig to follow Richard and her heartbreak at confirming her worst suspicions. I Heart NY is a perfect season finale; it’s witty, emotional without being sentimental, and bittersweet enough to make you sad that one chapter is ending but excited that another one’s beginning.

The Ick Factor (Season 6, Episode 14)

David Eigenberg and Cynthia Nixon as Steve and Miranda embracing in Sex and the City.
Image via HBO

Season 6 is one prolonged goodbye to the show, featuring storylines that force the characters to grow before sending them into new challenges. The Ick Factor features two major developments that fit this angle: Miranda gets married to Steve, and Samantha learns she has breast cancer. Meanwhile, Carrie finds herself frustrated with Aleksandr Petrovsky’s grand displays of old-fashioned romance, which include composing a melody for her and reading poetry by the fireplace.

The Ick Factor is largely an extended Emmy clip for Cynthia Nixon, who won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2004. The episode is a testament to Miranda’s brilliance as a character, as she embraces tradition on her own terms. Cattrall also makes Samantha’s diagnosis poignant, turning what could be a manipulative storyline into a truly resonant one.

As for Carrie, her overreactions to Petrovsky’s idea of romance, which see her actually fainting, are almost as annoying as the gestures themselves. However, the episode wisely spends as much time on the other girls as it does on Carrie. The Ick Factor is a reinterpretation of the very idea of romance for the new millennium and further proof that, at its peak, Sex and the City had its finger on pop culture’s pulse like no other show on television.

Every episode of Sex and the City is now available on Netflix.

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David Caballero
Freelance Writer
David is a Mexican freelance writer with a deep appreciation for words. After three years in the cold world of Marketing…
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