Carrie is an uncertain mess, Charlotte struggles with divorce, new mom Miranda is exhausted and crabby, and Samantha warily gives a man a misguided second chance.
Best Episode: “Ex and the City” The finale moment when Carrie dramatically walks away from Big after sending him off to his young fiancé may be a on the nose, and may have launched a thousand mean jokes (look it up), but it remains one of the most indelible scenes of the whole series—sexy, poignant, and free-spirited, it’s what first solidifies this show as a classic.
Worst Episode: “Games People Play” This isn’t the one with the “gay straight man” (an otherwise good episode that has Miranda, foreshadowingly, contemplating fertility), but it’s got weak conceits, like a guy who will only sleep with Samantha if his sports team wins and Jon Bon Jovi as a ho-hum one-off for Carrie, who finds herself in post-Big therapy.
Miranda has a wonderful, dispiriting, all-too-relatable plotline in one episode when an old friend she suddenly wants to be more than a friend falls for her interior decorator instead.
Later on, she’s further humanized when she starts dating rumpled old Steve.
There’s no doubt that had some pretty hefty cultural influence, elevating once-niche luxury brands to household-name status, serving as inspiration for countless blogs and articles about dating and city life and, anecdotally anyway, leading to a huge uptick in brunching.
But really, who knows how many people actually followed the show's siren call to Manhattan, only to face inevitable disappointment.
It’s hard to say which gimmick I like less, but certainly neither has aged well.
Best Episode: “The Baby Shower” Oddly, it took Carrie and friends getting out of Manhattan to get the show moving toward its thematic groove—Carrie is skeptical about the settled-down life, Miranda is caustic (and correct), Samantha is brassy, and Charlotte is a pinched bore, but not yet the insane person she would later become.
Worst Episode: “I Love a Charade” The goopy finale episode hardly advances the plot (Berger’s back! ) and features an irritating guest appearance by Nathan Lane.
What’s Good: The random people interviews are sparser and the tone and themes feel tighter.
Here’s a ranking of the seasons, from worst to best, as it looks a decade later.