Sex and the City completely changed television. Before the show aired, it was totally unheard of for a bunch of women to openly talk about sex in such detail on a television show. It’s part of the reason that HBO became known for nudity, swearing, and general debauchery.
It has been over a decade since the first season of Sex and the City aired, and the show is still relevant today. Keep reading to find out how the show changed after 9/11, which actors fought for diversity, and which main cast member never won an individual acting award for her character.
Stompin’ In Stilettos
Sex and the City wouldn’t be the same without Samantha Jones. Her over-the-top confidence and wild antics provide the perfect counterpoint to the rest of the main cast.
Kim Cattrall, the woman behind the character, once said that she insists on wearing heels at all times when she plays Samantha— even when she’s being shot from the waist up. She said that heels make her feel more like Samantha.
The Device That Got Dropped
In early seasons of the show, characters would speak their feelings out loud directly to the camera. At times, the camera would focus on people on the streets of New York who would express their opinion on dating and relationships.
This device was later dropped to allow the stories in each episode to flow more smoothly. Now looking back at Season 1 almost feels like watching a different show. I guess change is a good thing.
Sarah Jessica Parker was walking through a flea market one day with her beau, Matthew Broderick when she spotted a gorgeous medicine cabinet. She didn’t buy it at the time, but when she got home she really wished that she’d picked it up when she had the chance.
When she went back to the flea market, the cabinet was already sold to "some television show." When she showed up to the Sex and the City set later that week, the medicine cabinet was in Carrie’s apartment.
Sarah Jessica Parker spent up to sixteen hours a day in high heels while she was playing shoe aficionado, Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. The show was on the air for six seasons (plus two movies), so that’s a really long time to be strutting around in stilettos.
The long hours in high heels never affected Sarah Jessica’s love of shoes, though. Now she designs and sells her own fancy footwear.
No Nudity Allowed
When Sex and the City first aired on HBO, viewers were shocked at how R rated the show actually was. Sarah Jessica Parker had a clause in her contract for Sex and the City that stipulating that she wouldn’t do any full nudity.
This is why the audience never sees Carrie in anything less than underwear, whereas all the other main female characters have been filmed wearing much less. You gotta get it in writing, people.
Carrie’s apartment was more than just a set or a location of Sex and the City. It truly reflected Carrie’s character and the way she fit into New York City.
Although Carrie says her address is 245 E. 73rd Street in Manhattan, the actual exterior of her iconic brownstone apartment is 64 Perry Street in the West Village. You can actually still visit the apartment, but a chain blocks people from going up the steps (because you know people have tried to walk up the steps).
How The Opening Credits Changed
Sex and the City started airing in 1998, three years before the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. In the first three seasons of the show, the opening credits feature a shot of Sarah Jessica Parker’s name in front of the World Trade Centre.
After the twelfth episode of the fourth season, her name appeared on screen with the Empire State Building in the background. This show was as much about New York as it was about Carrie Bradshaw and her friends. 9/11 totally changed the tone of the show.
An Older Man
Sex and the City showrunner Michael Patrick King said that one of the main reasons he chose to include the love story between Carrie and Aleksandr Petrovsky in the show is because he was sick of the fans complaining about the age difference between Mr. Big and Carrie. He decided to pair Carrie up with a man who was actually older.
Aleksandr Petrovsky was played by Mikhail Baryshnikov who’s actually a super famous professional ballet dancer.
Cynthia Nixon’s Earring Dilemma
Cynthia Nixon doesn’t have her ears pierced. All of the earrings she wore on the show were clip-ons. Costume designers that worked for the show would often find real earrings that they wanted Miranda to wear, and then they would send them off to a jewler to be converted into clip-ons.
Also, Cynthia Nixon isn’t a natural redhead. She actually has blonde hair, but she dyed it red to play Miranda.
Not A Family Affair
Samantha is the only one of the four leads to never have a family member make any kind of appearance in the series. We meet Miranda’s sister, Betsey, and it’s a big deal when her mother dies in the series. We meet Charlotte’s brother, Wesley York, and we see Carrie’s father once in a photograph.
Samantha is a lone wolf. We know she has two siblings, but we don’t know their names and they never appear in the show.
Costumes Signify A Lot
If you’ve watched even one episode of Sex and the City, you know that clothes and fashion play a huge role in the way the series tells stories. Each character has their own distinct sense of style.
Both times Carrie and Aiden broke up, Carrie was wearing a white dress and Aiden was wearing a tuxedo. Signifying how, in theory, marriage seemed like a good idea, but it just wasn’t right for Carrie at the time.
Bushnell Didn’t Want Carrie And Big To End Up Together
Carrie and Big didn’t exactly have the healthiest relationship in the history of television. There was cheating, there were lies, there was drama. Candace Bushnell, the writer of the original Sex and the City source material, said that Carrie and Big weren’t really meant to be.
In an interview with The Guardian, Bushnell said that the relationship between Carrie and Big continued because audiences were so invested in it. She said, "they had become an iconic couple and women really related to it; they would say ‘I found my Mr. Big’ or ‘I just broke up with my Mr. Big.’ It became part of the lexicon."
John Corbett Always Knew About Big And Carrie
Are there any Carrie and Aidan shippers in the house? In a lot of ways, Aidan was the perfect man. He just wasn’t the perfect man for Carrie. John Corbett, the actor who played Aidan, said he always knew that Carrie and Aidan’s relationship was doomed.
John explained that New York has always been the fifth lead of the show. Carrie had to end up with Mr. Big because Mr. Big was New York personified.
The Cast Wanted More Diversity
A show like Sex and the City wouldn’t fly today, just because of how straight and white every character on the show was. It took a long time for the show to introduce a non-white love interest. The show’s lead actresses definitely took issue with Sex and the City’s lack of diversity.
In 2003, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker told producers that they needed to cast some non-white actors. Nixon said, "I’m a huge fan of the show, but if we had an area in which we really could use improvement, it’s certainly this one." Later, Nixon’s character Miranda did have a black boyfriend.
How SJP And Andy Cohen Became Friends
Andy Cohen (of Watch What Happens Live fame) and Sarah Jessica Parker are the best of friends— but have you ever wondered about how they met? In an episode of the fourth season of Sex and the City called "All That Glitters," Andy plays a shoe salesman who slips a gorgeous pair of heels onto Carrie’s feet.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Andy Cohen have been friends ever since. Now they go to the Met Gala together every year.
The Show Was Never About Empowerment
Sex and the City was one of the first shows to give women a voice when it came to sexuality. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda were the agents of their own narratives. They weren’t there to serve a man’s character arc, they were there to reflect the female experience.
In recent years, some critics have taken issue with the way the women navigated their relationships. They argue that they weren’t always as empowered as we’d like to believe. Sarah Jessica responded to the criticism by saying that the show’s goal was always to tell stories about love. She said, "I don’t think that empowerment was a word that was ever used once on our set, in a writer’s room, among the female actors."
Mr. Big’s Real Name
Mr. Big’s real name is never revealed in Sex and the City until the final episode of the series. We know him only by the nickname that Carrie gives him. It became a running gag on the show for his name to be almost revealed, and then something would happen to prevent it from being spoken.
In the final episode, we learn that Mr. Big’s real name is John. A bit anticlimactic, don’t you think? Producer Michael Patrick King explained, "It was just one of those things where it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s happening right now’ and you didn’t plan it. I just went, ‘John,’ while pretending to type on a keyboard. I told all the writers and they were like, What the hell? And I was like, ‘Yeah, we have to say his name because now he’s real.’"
Just Take All The Awards
Sex and the City was the first cable series to win the Emmy for Best Comedy Series. In total, the show won seven of its 54 Emmy Award nominations, eight of its 24 Golden Globe Award nominations, and three of its 11 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations in addition to awards in directing, producing, costumes, and more.
We know that awards aren’t everything, but it’s nice to see a show get recognized for its quality and cultural impact.
Kristin Davis Was Left Out
Kristin Davis, who played Charlotte York on the show, was the only lead actress who didn’t receive an individual award for her character. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Cynthia Nixon all won individual awards for their roles.
I can only assume that this wasn’t a reflection of her acting abilities, but rather of her character’s relatively tame attitude. Charlotte is the most vanilla of the Sex and the City women.
The Feud Between SJP And Kim Cattrall
There have been rumors swirling around for years that Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall don’t really get along. Both women spent years denying these rumors saying that they have always been friendly on set and nobody has beef with anybody else.
Cut to— SJP, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis are all on board to make a third Sex and the City movie. Kim Cattrall says she’s totally done playing Samantha. She also said that she and Sarah were never friends, just co-workers, and that she’s not sure why she would say that Kim ever agreed to do the movie. I smell drama.
Cynthia Nixon Got To Keep A Lot Of Her Clothes
Out of all of the women on Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon got to keep the most clothes from the set.
The outfits that Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha wore were mostly borrowed samples. Miranda’s clothes were all off the rack. Nixon explained, "The other women wore a lot of samples. Miranda’s not quite that cutting-edge, so they actually purchased a lot of the clothes." I’m sure SJP wishes she could have kept more of Carrie’s clothes.
The Second Film Wasn’t Actually Shot In Abu Dhabi
Originally, the creators of Sex and the City 2 planned to shoot the film in the city of Abu Dhabi in Dubai. Although the movie does take place in Abu Dhabi, all of the Dubai scenes were actually filmed in Morocco.
Abu Dhabi authorities denied permission for the crew to film in the city after reading the script. Apparently, they weren’t into the movie’s racy plotlines. I wonder how many Sex and the City fans still went to Abu Dhabi after seeing the film, though.
Kristin Davis Used To Hide The Show From Her Family
Kristin Davis was concerned that her parents and grandparents wouldn’t approve of the show’s risqué subject matter. She thought that even the title of the show would shock her family.
She didn’t tell her grandmother about the show, and she asked her parents not to watch it. Later, Kristin said that her parents started watching the show after her grandmother passed away. Her father, who is a psychology professor, really got into it and started incorporating it into his lectures.
Kim Cattrall Thought She’d Been Cast To Play Someone’s Mother
Kim Cattrall is quite a bit older than her Sex and the City co-stars, so it came as a surprise to her when she learned she had been cast as Samantha Jones in the series. Back in 2002, she said,
“I never thought I’d be playing this character at this age in my life … I thought I’d be playing somebody’s mom … The other girls on the show are 10 years younger than I am, so I have to get enough sleep and work out and watch what I eat. Just running around New York City is a good way to keep in shape.”
The Show Ended With The Finale
Even though there were two Sex and the City movies that came out after the series ended, the series finale really was supposed to serve as an ending to the story.
Back in 2004, months after the show’s final episode aired, producer Michael King said, “nothing we did in the series was altered to save something for the movie … This is exactly the way we wanted to end the series. We’re proud of what we did.”
SJP Didn’t Really Fart On Camera
There’s an episode in Season 1 of the show in which Carrie accidentally farts while she’s lying in bed with Mr. Big. Sarah Jessica Parker confessed that the fart noise didn’t actually come from her body.
The sound was actually made by someone named “Joe Dolly,” a dolly grip. Sarah Jessica said, “The scene took many takes because I kept laughing and I was really embarrassed.” Of all the things to be embarrassed about on Sex and the City…
All Those Voiceovers
In every episode of Sex and the City, Carrie would write her weekly column, and we would hear Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice reading that column to us. I couldn’t help but wonder… did SJP actually enjoy doing all of those voice recordings? It turns out that she did not.
Sarah Jessica Parker recorded all of those lines in one big chunk at the end of every season. It was her least favorite part of playing Carrie.
Aidan’s Son Was Played By SJP’s Actual Baby
In the first episode of Season 6, Carrie bumps into Aidan on the streets of New York. First, we only see Aidan from behind, but then he turns around to reveal that he’s had a baby since we’ve seen him last. Aidan has definitely moved on.
Tate, Aidan’s son, is actually played by Sarah Jessica Parker’s actual son, James Wilkie Broderick. SJP gave birth to him between filming seasons 5 and 6.
A Sweat Deal
Several iconic New York spots, clubs, and restaurants are featured throughout the series. There are also some smaller New York spots featured in Sex and the City that only became super popular after the show aired.
The Magnolia Bakery became so popular after Miranda and Carrie ate cupcakes there that the bakery had to start employing a bouncer to deal with rowdy customers. Now I’m really craving a Magnolia Bakery cupcake…
Spice Up Your Life
In 1998, when Sex and the City started airing, The Spice Girls were at the height of their popularity. The character Phoebe, who Samantha runs into on the street, is played by former Spice Girl Gerri Halliwell (AKA Ginger Spice).
Their scene was filmed outside of Soho House at the same time that fellow Spice Girl Victoria Beckham and her husband David Beckham were inside. Victoria Beckham (AKA Posh Spice) was also offered a cameo on the show, but she had to turn it down.