1. The Fashion
From the first moment Carrie appears in the opening credits, wearing that pink tutu, to the dreamy green Versace gown she dons in Paris for the very last episode, our screens have never seen fashion quite like it – and the show’s iconic outfits, created by costume designer Patricia Field, are still inspiring the style crowd today. As the Telegraph’s Fashion Editor puts it, “Before Bradshaw, tutus were dancewear, not daywear. Before Bradshaw, we had no idea that all manner of clothing items could officially ‘go together’.”
Dubbed ‘Fashion’s favourite Instagram’ by Vogue, @EveryOutfitOnSATC documents every look on the show so we can relive them in all their glory; the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Man Repeller regularly devotes post to the cause, with Founder Leandra Medine Cohen sharing a a Carrie-inspired styling tip every couple of weeks. Then are the accessories – Carrie’s infamouse name necklace launched a trend that still continues today (as well as proving a pivotal plot point).
2. The Sex
When the pilot episode aired in 1998, it was seen as revolutionary: portraying women and sex in a way never before seen on TV. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte talked candidly about every aspect of their sex lives – from masturbation and blow-jobs to anal and threesomes – and in public too. The show was unapologetic in its depiction of female sexual desire.
Along with debunking myths about sex many young women are taught and taking a stand against slut-shaming culture, it created a gateway for real women to speak openly with one another about their own sexual experiences – including topics that were once considered too personal to mention.
The show has also been credited for turning a generation of women on to vibrators – sales of Rampant Rabbits soared after Charlotte’s turned her into a recluse.
3. The Friendship
One aspect of SATC that doesn’t seem outdated in the slightest is the way it fiercely championed female friendship. Samantha babysits for Miranda so she can attend a hair appointment; Charlotte lends Carrie money so she could purchase an apartment; a newly pregnant Miranda emotionally supports Charlotte when she struggles with her fertility; Carrie gets the girls together to rile around Miranda after her mother passes away.
Through it all – happiness, heartbreak, professional upheaval and family crises – they always had each other, and that was the show’s central message, perhaps summed up best in Charlotte’s famous line: “Maybe we can be each other's soul mates.”
4. The Feminism
Yes, they were looking for love, but the SATC characters proved women can have as much fun being single as men – and that putting yourself first is more important than being in an unhappy relationship ("I love you... but I love me more,” as Samantha once said, providing us with our relationship mantra). And as Carrie herself put it in the show, “Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.”
Although it was slightly infuriating that the show’s finale saw Mr Big swooping in to save both Carrie and her bank balance, the fact that she never aimed for the cookie-cutter husband and babies ending was groundbreaking at the time. In ‘A Woman’s Right To Shoes’, Carrie makes another important point – not every woman dreams of wedding gifts and baby showers, yet there isn’t one occasion to celebrate their lives (“Hallmark doesn't make a ‘congratulations you didn't marry the wrong guy’ card”). Cue her registering at Manolo Blahnik and creating one of the best moments in noughties TV history.
And let’s not forget Miranda, now hailed as the most empowered SATC character: she proposed to Steve, turned the table on catcallers, contantly questioned gender stereotypes (“I’m never going to be a girly girl”), made more money than her boyfriend and refused to apologise for her success.
5. The Humour
And while we’re on the subject of quotes, SATC has given us a lifetime’s worth of hilarious anecdotes. Carrie's high-pitched “A scrunchie?!” moment summed up our exact feelings on the hairpiece, while “I like my money where I can see it – hanging in my closet,” is an excuse we constantly use today when buying new clothes. Samantha's sex advice were words to live by – “Fk me badly once, shame on you. Fk me badly twice, shame on me" – and sometimes her crudity made us laugh so much our cosmopolitans came out of our noses: “I’m dating a guy with the funkiest tasting spunk.”
Charlotte's almost puritanical beliefs were the sweetest and made us all hope we would grow up to be believers in true love (and a reason for celibacy): "I read that if you don’t have sex for a year you can be revirginised.” Her infamous "Could you please not use the F-word in Vera Wang?" had us vowing never to swear in the presence of designer bridal gowns. And Miranda's classic “Sexy is what I try to get them to see me as after I win them over with my personality” and "What's the big mystery? It's my clitoris, not the Sphinx," were the moments we realised that Miranda just got us.
Then there’s all the laugh-out-loud moments. When Miranda gets propositioned by a sandwich; when Aleksandr Petrovsky reads Carrie poetry and she recites him back an excerpt from Vogue; when Charlotte finally braves going naked in the spa; and pretty much anything Samantha ever says and does.
6. The Glamour
From sipping cosmos in NYC’s coolest bars to wearing designer clothes most people could only dream about, the characters’ glamorous metropolitan lives inspired a generation of young women to pursue their professional dreams and move to big cities (and we’re going to give it credit for the current brunch craze too).
All the episodes that take place out of New York are some of our favourites too. As SL’s Fashion Editor, Charlotte Collins, says, “There's something about being in Los Angeles or Paris that ups the ante on their fashion, the restaurants, the hotels – everything. My favourite is the group's trip out to the Hamptons for the wedding of Bitsy von Muffling and Bobby Fine – from the glamorous outfits to the romantic setting, you can almost smell the freshly pruned lawns and expensive perfume.”
7. The Honesty
Despite all its charm, SATC showed audiences four women as flawed as they appealing. Carrie’s character in particular has been slated in recent years for being overly “annoying” and a “terrible friend”, but at the time it was actually refreshing to see a female lead written to be so unlikable at times – self-centred, obsessive and whiny, she was recognisable as the kind of person we can all be sometimes.
We saw all characters fail, a lot, which served to make the show truly relatable. Sometimes it took an uncomfortably honest look at the pressure of trying to ‘have it all’, and explored the neuroses so many women experience in their real lives, but had never felt comfortable sharing.
8. The Guest Stars
Aside from Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, a whole host of actors featured on SATC – many of them getting their big break. Unknown at the time was Bradley Cooper, who had a few lines in the second season, showing Carrie her unflattering New York magazine cover. Then in series three, John Slattery, now best known for his role in Mad Men, played Bill Kelley, a politician who briefly dates Carrie (and is very into water sports).
Kat Dennings, now the star of 2 Broke Girls, was just 14 when she played precocious teenager Jenny Brier, who wanted Samantha to plan her bat mitzvah. Orange is the New Black's Michelle Hurst plays the doctor conducting Samantha STD’s test. And Justin Theroux was a guest on the show not once, but twice – first as cool party guy Jared in season one, then early ejaculator Vaughn in season two. You can't fool us, Darren Star!
9. The Influence
Without SATC, we might never have had some of our other favourite TV series. The show paved the way for an entire genre of city-set, female-led shows following women as they forge friendship, love and everything else; discussing it all in frank detail along the way – from rent payments (Broad City) to vagina facials (Insecure) to questionable life decisions (Girls).
Speaking about the comparisons, Girls creator Lena Dunham said that she was deliberately "bridging a gap" between the teens in Gossip Girl and the 30-somethings in SATC. The pilot even intentionally featured a SATC joke to make it clear that the girls were inspired by Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.
10. The Memes
And, of course, as SATC is the show that keeps on giving, there’s the recent stream of memes – most importantly, #WokeCharlotte. The concept came from Lauren Garroni and Chelsea Fairless, the creators of the @EveryOutfitOnSATC Insta account. It cleverly deals with those awkward moments where SATC now seems out of touch, dated or even offensive.
The meme takes problematic lines from the show, and uses Charlotte as a mouthpiece to give a suitably up-to-date response. One of the most-shared examples is her reimagined response Carrie’s biphobic line, “I’m not even sure that bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gay Town.” #WokeCharlotte steps in and retorts, “Bisexuality is a real sexual orientation. It’s not ‘just a phase’ and as sex columnist you have a responsibility to educate yourself on queer issues.”
And we particularly enjoyed the one depicting an exchange with her nightmare mother-in-law Bunny: “I don’t enjoy Mandarin food and I don’t enjoy a Mandarin child,” she says, criticising Charlotte’s decision to adopt a baby from China. Her new response? “And I don’t enjoy white supremacy, especially when it comes from within my own family. With all due respect, f**k off Bunny.” Go #WokeCharlotte.