— “Ex and the City” (season 2)
Season two culminated with the best episode in “Sex and the City’s” history. Samantha encountered Mr. Too Big, and decided to take him on as a challenge. Miranda reunited with Steve — after first running away from him on the street. And Carrie decided to be friends with Big, only to find out that he was engaged to Natasha (“the idiot stick figure with no soul”). In a pivotal scene, the girls commiserated over cocktails, and Carrie realized that she was like the Barbra Streisand character (Ka-Ka-Ka-Katie) from “The Way We Were.” Miranda, Carrie and Charlotte broke into song, and Carrie began to see that she was a complicated woman — and that Natasha was just more simple. Carrie went to where Big’s engagement party was being held and the two of them met on the street (just like Katie and Hubbell did in “The Way We Were”). “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell,” Carrie said. “I don’t get it,” Big responded. Carrie looked at him sadly and said, “And you never did.” If you didn’t relate to this, you’ve never been broken up with, spent weeks baffled, and then finally accepted the truth.
“I Heart New York” (season 4)
Sarah Jessica Parker always talked about New York City being the show’s “fifth lady,” but never was that more apparent than during the show’s season four finale, which was a post-Sept. 11 love letter to the city (it originally aired Feb. 10, 2002). In this episode, Carrie found out Big was leaving for Napa. The two of them danced to Harry Mancini’s “Moon River,” took a carriage ride through Central Park, and might have even had one last night together if Miranda hadn’t gone into labor. Miranda’s insistence on “no cheerleading” was also one of the episode’s highlights, as she had Carrie quiet the nurse when she told Miranda to push, and stop Steve from crying when Miranda revealed she wanted to call the baby Brady. Samantha realized that she was in love with Richard Wright, only to have her heart broken when she caught him cheating on her. At the end of the show, Carrie summed it all up by saying, “Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate ... perhaps if we never veered off course, we wouldn't fall in love or have babies or be who we are.” The melancholy yet hopeful spirit of the episode proved more romantic than even the show’s finale.
“The Drought” (season 1)
Even in its very first season, the show was always about the things that women secretly talk about, and when, in this episode, Carrie farted while in bed with Mr. Big, it was hard not to empathize. Mortified, she hid under the covers. “It might be worse under there,” Big said laughing. But when he stopped having sex with her, she assumed her slight imperfection had killed their relationship. Miranda scoffed, but Samantha agreed (“We aren't supposed to fart, douche, use tampons or have hair in places we shouldn't”). “I think I'm in love with him and I'm terrified he's going to leave me because I'm not perfect,” she told Miranda. But in the end, when he made his first visit to her apartment, he told her he liked it just as it was. Also in this fun-filled episode, Miranda admitted she hadn’t had sex in three months (“If I make it to four months, I'm humping one of you,” she told the ladies), Samantha went on a sex fast that didn’t even last the whole episode, and Charlotte found herself dumping a well-adjusted guy on Prozac who wasn’t that into sex. The show never made any bones that it was about sex and women who want it, as proven by this episode.
“One” (season 6)
Everyone has a favorite “Sex and the City” lady, and if yours is Miranda, there’s no better episode to see her in all her neuroses than in this episode when she finally admitted to Steve that she loved him. When her perfect boyfriend Robert presented her with a giant chocolate chip cookie with the words “I love you” on it, not only could she not say it back, she devoured the entire cookie. But at Brady’s first birthday party, when she found herself alone with Steve in the laundry room, she blurted out, “I love you.” And though his girlfriend Debbie was in the other room, he didn’t care. “Miranda, you’re the one,” he told her. And then housekeeper/nanny Magda entered and immediately realized exactly what was going on. This episode also featured Charlotte’s pregnancy, miscarriage and the way the E! “True Hollywood Story of Elizabeth Taylor” gave her the strength to go to Brady’s birthday. And Carrie had her first date with Aleksandr Petrovsky, whose kiss, she noted, tasted like “black cherries.” But Miranda is the true star of this episode, proving, even if you put on the most cynical, self-protecting skin you can, you may actually still find “the one.”
“The Good Fight” (season 4)
Even those who are in the Big camp (vs. the Aidan fans) probably succumbed to Aidan’s charms in this episode that took place after he and Carrie moved in together. Carrie lamented to the girls about the loss of her “secret single behavior,” which for her includes eating a stack of saltines with grape jelly while standing up in the kitchen reading fashion magazines. Miranda admitted, “I like to put Vaseline on my hands and stick them in those Borghese conditioning gloves while watching infomercials.” When Aidan made the mistake of asking for half of Carrie’s closet, things got ugly and she walked out. “You can stay here with your shoe-eating dog and you can knock yourself out putting on the Rogaine and the Speed Stick,” Carrie said. Meanwhile, Samantha did her best to keep boss Richard on a strictly work and sex level, fighting her own growing feelings, while Trey surprised Charlotte with a cardboard baby to replace the one they couldn’t have. But Richard finally got Samantha to drop her guard and dance with him in the moonlight by a swimming pool, while Carrie realized she didn’t need quite as much space from Aidan as she thought she did. It was an episode that showed the romance and heartbreak (in Charlotte’s case) of real life — and what exactly is worth fighting for.