9 ‘Sex and the City’ episodes that have aged poorly

Charlotte, samantha, miranda, and carrie in sex and the city
A scene from ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO

In the second episode of the series, a male friend of Carrie’s reveals that he secretly videotapes his sexual encounters, unbeknownst to his female partners.
Sarah jessica parker in sex and the city episode two models and mortals
Sarah Jessica Parker in ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 1, episode 2

Not only is this behavior morally wrong, but it’s also illegal. However, Carrie simply brushes it off as something offputting. To make matters worse, Samantha finds the fact that he videotapes his sexual encounters endearing and even asks him to film her. At the very least, he does so with her consent. 

In a 2018 exploration of “Sex and the City” and the #MeToo era for Vanity Fair, “Sex and the City and Us” author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong called attention to this moment as something sexually predatory that likely flew over everyone’s heads at the time.

In “The Caste System,” the girls discuss Steve being “working class.”
Charlotte, samantha, miranda, and carrie in sex and the city
A scene from ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 2, episode 10

Even the name of the episode is culturally insensitive, but the problems don’t end there. While Miranda takes Steve out to improve his wardrobe, Samantha dates a man with a live-in Southeast Asian female “servant” named Sum. In the episode, Sum’s only purpose is to act as a villain. She pretends to not speak English well in order to get closer to her employer and make him break up with Samantha, then paints herself as a victim.  

The storyline is a classic case of othering and even includes some racist puns at Sum’s expense.

In a 2016 Refinery29 article, writer Hunter Harris observed that “Sex and the City” was “a show that was simultaneously progressive and regressive, where people of color were either stereotypes or punchlines.”

In the season two episode “Evolution,” Carrie and the girls question Charlotte’s date’s sexuality because he’s interested in things that are stereotypically associated with gay men.
Kristin davis as charlotte york in sex and the city
A scene from ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 2, episode 11

The man Charlotte is dating reveals he loves Cher, compliments her on her Cynthia Rowley dress, and is terrified of a mouse — all things that are stereotypically feminine or associated with gay men. 

In the episode, the girls discuss whether he is a “gay straight man” — a straight man who comes across as gay — or a “straight gay man” — a man who is really gay but presents himself as straight. The problematic conversation buys into stereotypes about straight and gay people and their interests. 

In the episode “Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl,” sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw claims that bisexuality doesn’t exist and makes many uncomfortable comments to the bisexual man she is seeing.
Sarah jessica parker in sex and the city episode boy girl boy girl
Sarah Jessica Parker in ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 3, episode 4

In a brunch scene, there are many problematic statements about bisexuality. Carrie, for example, describes bisexuality as a “layover on the way to gay town.” Charlotte also weighs in on the subject, saying people should “pick a side and stay there.” Miranda calls bisexuality “greedy” and “a problem.”

Throughout the episode, Carrie repeatedly pesters her bisexual love interest about whether he is attracted to men or women more and even asks if she “kisses better than a guy.” Carrie ends up leaving him at a party after a game of all-gendered spin the bottle, where she describes herself as an “old fart.”

In 2018, even Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Carrie, admitted “there was no substantial conversation about the LGBTQ community” on the show.

Carrie dates a recovering alcoholic in the season two episode “Was It Good for You?” She later breaks up with him and he relapses.
Patrick casey sex and the city
‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 2, episode 16

Patrick Casey and Carrie met on the street and immediately got off to a rough start. He told her he was in Alcoholics Anonymous and that his sponsor had told him not to date anyone until he’d been sober for a full year. However, they began dating anyway.

Carrie soon realizes that Patrick had become addicted to having sex, which he’d never done without alcohol. After Carrie says she wants to take a break from their relationship, he relapses and strips in the street outside her apartment, calling out her name in the middle of the night.

The episode did little to highlight the nuances of alcoholism. To make matters worse, Carrie even joked that she’d “like to be [an alcoholic] someday” after Casey told her about being in AA.

In the episode “No Ifs, Ands or Butts,” Samantha gets into an argument with the sister of a Black man she is dating and uses racially insensitive language.
Kim catrall sex and the city
A scene from ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 3, episode 5

After Samantha gets more serious with top record producer Chivon Williams, his sister Adeena confronts Samantha to tell her she doesn’t approve of her older brother dating a white woman. The two get into an argument, in which they both say racially charged and insensitive things. 

The episode is uncomfortable at best — and downright racist at worst — in its depiction of interracial relationships, and it makes out Adeena to be the closed-minded one.

Sundra Oakley, who played Adeena, told Vanity Fair in 2018 that she was overjoyed to have a role on the show, but “even a few years later … it’s like, oh man, why did it have to be that way? Why couldn’t it have been a different story?”

In one episode, Samantha gets annoyed by sex workers she can hear in the street outside her apartment.
A nighttime scene in sex and the city cock-a-doodle-doo where samantha is talking to sex workers
A scene from ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 3, episode 18

As you can probably imagine, the episode is teeming with insensitivities that would never go over well today.

In arguably one of the most controversial episodes of “Sex and the City,” Samantha gets into a turf war with sex workers who frequent her neighborhood in the Meatpacking District and are described as being transgender (this is never confirmed by the characters themselves, only alleged by the four main girls). She explains how every night, she can hear them yelling outside her window. 

While no one likes to deal with noise late at night, she handles it in a very problematic way. She uses a derogatory slur for transgender people and even throws a bucket of water on them one night.

“It was disappointing to me, as a black trans woman, to see black trans women enter the world of ‘Sex and the City’ and be so thoroughly othered,” actress Laverne Cox told Variety’s “My Favorite Episode” podcast in 2019. She added, however, that she still loved the show.

Overall, this episode is highly offensive and definitely could not have been made today.

When Samantha begins seriously dating a woman in the fourth season, the other girls mock her and say she’s “become a lesbian” because she “ran out of men.”
Samantha and maria in sex and the city
A scene from ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 4, episode 4

This is another example from the show of problematic language around non-straight relationships. Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda repeatedly make fun of and invalidate Samantha’s new relationship by comparing Samantha’s shift in sexuality to saying she’s a fire hydrant or a shoe.

The episode does little to discuss the idea of bisexuality or sexual fluidity and provides a terrible example of how to react to a friend coming out. 

When Carrie first meets love interest Aleksandr Petrovsky, she assumes he has called the wrong number because she doesn’t recognize or “understand” his Russian accent on the phone.
Sarah jessica parker in sex and the city
Sarah Jessica Parker in ‘Sex and the City.’ HBO
Episode: Season 6, episode 12

In the scene, Carrie attempts to get past the embarrassing, problematic exchange by pretending that Petrovsky was talking to her “sister” instead of her.