Sex and the City — for all the thousands of television shows out there — remains iconic. Sitcoms like Friends will seemingly always be beloved as will teen dramas such as One Tree Hill or The O.C., but there’s only one show that managed to yield two movies and seemingly millions of personality quizzes — even years after going off the air.
Although the series ran from 1998 to 2004, you can stream long-forgotten or missed episodes on HBO Max and Hulu, which means more and more people will likely start to love and appreciate this decades-old show. For those who haven’t watched much of the show, Sex and the City follows Carrie along with her friends Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha as they navigate love and dating in New York City.
The series was revolutionary when it first aired, but it’s obviously aged quite a bit. In fact, there are some things you probably never noticed in the first episode of Sex and the City that might just blow your mind, and have you saying, “I couldn’t help but wonder, how did I miss that?”
Whatever happened to the English journalist in the first episode of Sex and the City?
Since Sex and the City premiered in 1998, there are obviously more than a few aspects of the show that haven’t aged well. Yet, the introductory story Carrie (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) tells about the English journalist has kind of always been confusing. In the opening scene of the series, Carrie tells the tale of a journalist who relocates to New York City to further her career and ends up falling in love instead.
In the episode, Carrie explains that the woman ended up basically getting ghosted by her boyfriend, and it is then revealed that the woman is Carrie’s friend who warns Carrie over coffee not to fall for a man’s lies as she did. Carrie then tells viewers at home that “no one had told her about the end of love in Manhattan.”
It’s an intriguing story, but also completely irrelevant, as Carrie and the woman are never seen together again. So, is the story supposed to be foreshadowing something about Carrie’s love life? Or is the English journalist simply a cautionary tale? Whatever the case, it was an odd way to kick off the series.
Carrie's hair is completely different in the first episode of Sex and the City
Just like with any television series, the characters on Sex and the City obviously change their looks throughout the episodes. No one would expect them to all look completely same for the whole series, but in the first episode, Carrie looks seriously different. In fact, her hair is much darker, shorter, and redder in the pilot, you almost might not recognize her.
Yes, Carrie’s hair is far from her long signature blonde that she rocks though most of the series (and movies). In fact, her hair color is somewhat reminiscent of the color she dyes her hair in the Sex and the City movie. In the movie, Carrie dyes her hair to get a refresh on her life after a big breakup. Perhaps it’s supposed to symbolize her going back to her roots, literally, from the first episode of the series. Whatever the case, you definitely didn’t notice it when you first watched the series.
Carrie talks to the camera in the first episode of Sex and the City
Every show has those awkward few episodes when they’re attempting to find their footing. It’s only natural, especially since most shows don’t know if they are going to get picked up by a network after their pilot. But in the first episode of Sex and the City, Carrie does something that she doesn’t do for most of the rest of the series, and it’s super uncomfortable.
Only about four minutes into the first episode, Carrie breaks the fourth wall while writing at her computer in her apartment. “How the hell did we get into this mess?” she asks the camera. It’s an awkward moment but only made more awkward by the fact that she continuously speaks to the camera as if no one else is there numerous times during the episode. It’s a strange format, and there’s probably a reason it didn’t stick around for the entirety of the series.
Charlotte really valued her career in the first episode of Sex and the City
When people look back at Sex and the City, they typically think of certain key attributes for each of the main characters. For instance, Samantha is seen as the most sexually active one, Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon) is the powerful career woman, Charlotte is the romantic, and Carrie is the writer. But in the first episode of Sex and the City, Charlotte York, who is typically seen as the woman who wants to fall in love, get married, and have babies, is actually pretty dedicated to her career.
As seen in the first episode, Charlotte works at an art gallery, and later in the series, her career is a big plot point. You might not have noticed that in the first episode of Sex and the City, Charlotte isn’t as domesticated as she is later on in the series. This makes sense, as The Scholar and Feminist Online noted that when Charlotte does eventually quit her job to stay home, her friends aren’t all that pleased with her decision. Because at first, Charlotte is a total career girl.
Did Samantha mainstream casual hookups in the first episode of Sex and the City?
Sex and the City fans tend to think of Samantha Jones as the wild, no-strings-attached lover of sex. And honestly, that’s pretty spot-on. From the beginning of the series, Samantha was pro-sex and anti-feelings. In fact, in the first episode, it almost seems as though Samantha normalized the whole casual sex or “friends with benefits” concept.
As The Atlantic reported, “Samantha’s love of sex and independence were often pitted against her friends’—and partners’—inclinations toward more traditional couplings.” And though Samantha’s character certainly develops more through the series, in that first episode, she not interested in love. All Samantha wants is sex. In fact, at a birthday celebration with her three friends, she advises them: “You can say ‘screw it,’ just go out and have sex like a man.” Samantha then explains what she means, telling her friends they should just have sex “without feelings.” So basically, in the premiere episode of Sex and the City, Samantha has totally revolutionized sex.
Carrie's apartment looks so different in the first episode of Sex and the City
Sex and the City wasn’t the first show to have its fair share of continuity errors, and it won’t be the last, either. Whether it’s an issue with filming schedules, locations, or set designs, many shows end up changing the backdrops of their characters’ homes after the first few episodes. And in the first episode of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment is so not the same as it is in the rest of the series, nor the later movies.
In fact, as the filming location website I Am Not A Stalker noted, Carrie’s apartment changes many times in Sex and the City. “Though said to be at 245 East 73rd Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, no less than five properties were utilized as the apartment building where Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) lived during the program’s six-season run,” the site reported.
Screen Rant noted that the exterior of Carrie’s apartment was filmed at 960 Madison Avenue for only the pilot and second episode. Even the inside of Carrie’s apartment looks different in the first episode; her bed is situated in a different area and her closet is nowhere to be seen.
Carrie smoked a lot in the first episode of Sex and the City
Considering Sex and the City premiered in the ’90s, there are things about it that have since gone out of style. From the clothes to the hairstyles to even the way the women talk, a lot of stylistic choices from Sex and the City are no longer relevant. But one thing that really sticks out like a sore thumb is Carrie Bradshaw’s smoking habit.
In fact, not only has smoking stopped being cool or sexy since Sex and the City premiered, it’s also stopped being legal in most places. As ABC News reported, Carrie’s vice would no longer be realistic in this day and age. “This would not be legally possible anymore, and, sadly for her, the one place she could smoke — Yankee Stadium — is smoke-free now, too,” the outlet reported.
Sure, Carrie might still be able to smoke in the comfort of her home, but if Sex and the City were made today, she probably wouldn’t even do that. Really, smoking is a thing of the past, and watching the series premiere of Sex and the City today is almost like unearthing a time capsule from a different era.
Samantha wasn't the only "radical" one in the first episode of Sex and the City
For a lot of people, Sex and the City was a show known for its expletive nature. On top of cursing, drinking, and smoking, the characters all had sex at some point or another, and that sex was typically shown in a graphic manner, with breasts and butts all over the place. But really, the most progressive part of Sex and the City might have been the idea of having “sex like a man,” as Samantha advised. Like Samantha, Carrie also tries this concept in the first episode and finds herself feeling totally fulfilled.
This idea of having sex without feelings or attachment was “radical” at that time, according to The Star. And that’s what makes Sex and the City still relevant today. As the publication further explained, “Its most radical aspect wasn’t the sex and the nudity, but its insistence that women needn’t pair off with a man right away to find happiness in life.” The fact that this is a key part of that first episode proves that Sex and the City was always ahead of its time.
Carrie met Mr. Big in the very first episode of Sex and the City
Any fan of Sex and the City knows that even though the series is about women taking care of themselves and not needing a man, Carrie Bradshaw’s eventual happy ever after is what it’s all about. In fact, the first Sex and the City movie is all about Carrie getting married to her big love (pun intended). And while that might sound cheesy, the first episode of the series proves that it had actually been a long time coming. That’s right, Carrie meets Mr. Big during the series premiere, meaning that their love story has been literally years in the making.
In a brief recap of the pilot, Vulture revealed that the entire premise of forgoing feelings in favor of sex is threatened when Carrie meets Big. “[Carrie] keeps bumping into a mysterious guy she calls Mr. Big [in a series of] romantic encounters that scream ‘fate,'” the publication explained. As Mr. Big does, in fact, end up being Carrie’s endgame, it’s pretty adorable that they met by quite literally bumping into each other the first episode.
Charlotte knew what she wanted from the first episode of Sex and the City
Though the character of Charlotte York has gotten a lot of flack for being anti-feminist and ending her career to be a housewife, in the first episode of Sex and the City, Charlotte is portrayed as pretty headstrong. Although she’s career-orientated in the pilot, Charlotte also has no shame in making her desires for love and marriage known to all.
As The Mary Sue explained, “Despite Charlotte being vocal about her desire to get married and have a long-term partner, the rest of the cast all get ‘partners’ before her in Season One.” And what’s wrong with Charlotte wanting to fall in love? Nothing. She’s just more open about it and doesn’t feel ashamed to admit it.
In the first episode of the series, Charlotte is excited to go on a date, but instead of going out and having sex “like a man,” she decides not to sleep with him. Sure, some might view Charlotte’s desires as antiquated, but she knows what she wants and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
Miranda is a great role model in the first episode of Sex and the City
If you’ve ever participated in internet culture at all over the past decade, then odds are you’ve heard the phrase “We should all be Mirandas” once or twice. The sentiment behind the statement is so widely agreed upon that there’s even a book with the same title that was released in October 2019.
As it turns out, even in the first episode of Sex and the City, Miranda Hobbes is already a great role model for any woman watching. Not only was she clearly focused on her career, but she also didn’t feel the need to pretend to be anything other than her true self. When out on a first date with one of Carrie’s friends, Miranda isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and even calls him out for unwanted touching. Miranda continues to stand out from her friends in later episodes, but the pilot is what really set the tone for this character.
There's a joke about Donald Trump in the first episode of Sex and the City
Before the 2016 election, references about Donald Trump and even cameos from him in shows and movies weren’t uncommon. Of course, that changed after his inauguration to the White House. Today if you were to go back and watch the first episode of Sex and the City, though, you may be surprised to hear a one-liner about Trump.
In one scene, Carrie arrives to the nightclub where she’s meeting her friends and runs into Samantha, who immediately points out Mr. Big to Carrie. Carrie obviously recognizes him from their run-in on the street, but says nothing as Samantha describes him as “the next Donald Trump, except he’s younger and much better looking” (via Bustle). When you first watched the Sex and the City premiere, you probably didn’t even bat an eye at the joke, but it will, of course, stand out to you now. Trump also ends up making a cameo on the show in the following season, in Episode 8.
These women change partners like nobody's business in the first episode of Sex and the City
While Carrie may have met Mr. Big before Samantha, that doesn’t mean she has any kind of “dibs” on him, nor does she appear to want to. In fact, in the first episode of Sex and the City, Samantha makes it very obvious that she is going to go for Mr. Big — and Carrie doesn’t object. Obviously, when you first watched this episode, you probably didn’t think twice about the fact that Samantha had the hots for Mr. Big. But looking back, it’s pretty awkward that Carrie ends up with the man that Samantha was into. And that’s not all.
When Charlotte ends her first date with publishing hotshot Capote Duncan, he ends up in the cab with her, seemingly off to find another girl to sleep with. And toward the end of the episode, viewers watch as it is none other than Samantha that Charlotte’s date beds, The Cut revealed. Isn’t that awkward? Charlotte was super into this guy, and then he goes and sleeps with one of her best friends. Honestly, it’s pretty cringey when you rewatch it.
Does Samantha want more from her hookup in the first episode of Sex and the City?
Toward the end of the first episode, after Charlotte said goodbye to her date and Samantha said hello to him, it’s obvious that the two are about to get it on. Capote Duncan takes her back to his apartment and as they are making out, he tells her she can’t stay over, to which she says she’s cool with that. However, there’s a moment in that scene that you might not have caught the first time you watched the episode.
Even though Capote made it clear that he wants nothing more than sex from Samantha and she seemingly agreed, viewers can see something in her eye that could indicate that she wants more. Maybe not from the man she’s currently with, but from someone. Perhaps Samantha’s “friends with benefits” idea wasn’t the ideal situation for her after all. That little glimpse into what Samantha wants might have gone unnoticed the first time you watched Sex and the City, but it’s actually pretty obvious when you rewatch it.
The way Carrie describes her job is comical in the first episode of Sex and the City
There are no shortage of jokes about just how unrealistic Carrie Bradshaw’s job is in Sex and the City. She’s a columnist who writes about sex and dating in New York City and somehow that manages to pay well enough for her to have her own apartment, buy designer ensembles, and constantly go out drinking with her friends. All in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But what’s also pretty comical about Carrie’s job is the way she describes it in the first episode of Sex and the City.
In one scene, at the end of the night when she gets into a town car with Mr. Big, she is asked what she does. Carrie ever-so-cooly responds, “Well, this is my work. I’m sort of a sexual anthropologist.” Um, what? Honestly, this scene may just cement the fact that people don’t find Carrie’s character all that likable.
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