All the Sex and the City Episodes Where Carrie Bradshaw Is the Worst

19 minute read

Over the course of six seasons and 94 episodes of Sex and the City, the quality that has most defined Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is not her diehard romanticism or her fiscally irresponsible love of shoes, but her constant tendency to be a grade A a-hole.

While some might argue that the lifeblood of the HBO series are its female friendships or its spicy romantic entanglements, there’s no denying that much of the series actually centers on Carrie’s narcissism: her self-absorption, her lack of self-awareness, and her ability to make any and every situation all about herself, her love life, and her feelings. Since she first graced our screens in 1998, Carrie has flaked on friends, cheated on boyfriends, broken up marriages, and shirked responsibility for her actions. As a sex columnist, she was surprisingly prudish and woefully judgmental, exhibiting casual biphobia and even slut-shaming her best friends; in her personal life, she was selfish and often oblivious to anything outside of her world—she couldn’t even be bothered to vote!

Read more: Sex and the City Is Nothing Without Samantha Jones

The sentiment that Carrie is a bad person has long been widely held, despite the character’s beloved status as an aspirational New Yorker. In a 2013 New Yorker piece, Emily Nussbaum hailed her as a complex antihero akin to fellow HBO main character Tony Soprano, while an entire blog has been devoted to explaining just why “Carrie Bradshaw is the worst.” It’s not something that’s lost on Sarah Jessica Parker, who’s played Carrie for the past 25 years. For Parker, Carrie’s flaws and shortcomings, as annoying or selfish as they might be, are what make her a relatable character.

“The most relatable part about her is her friendships and how real and important those were to her,” Parker said in an interview with HBO. “Her friendships are complicated and she often failed like we all do — you fail at love, you fail your friends and yourself. We were never afraid of those flaws in Carrie and they were illustrated often and accurately. Sometimes people judged her harshly for that, but I was always happy to tell those stories because that’s what made her human and what made people connect with her.”

Though Carrie’s problematic behavior persists in the two SATC movies and on the SATC spin-off And Just Like That, for the purposes of this list, we are only considering the episodes of the original series. Here, in chronological order, are all of the times that Carrie Bradshaw was the worst on Sex and the City.

When she judges Amalita for having transactional relationships (S1, Ep. 5: The Power of Female Sex)

One of the most puzzling aspects of SATC is Carrie’s deep-seated prudishness, in spite of her job as a sex columnist. In Season 1, her moralism is at an all-time high after she receives $1000 in cash from hot French architect Gilles (Ed Fry) after they spend a passionate night together. Instead of enjoying her unexpected windfall as her perpetually broke ass should have done, Carrie blames the friend who introduced them, international party girl Amalita Amalfi (Carole Davis), for Gilles mistaking her for a call girl. In Carrie’s estimation, Amalita’s jet-setting lifestyle and fabulous wardrobe, which appear to be funded by her rotation of wealthy boyfriends, makes her a “professional girlfriend.”

Never mind that Carrie willingly allows Amalita to buy her a pair of very expensive Dolce & Gabbana heels after her credit card is maxed out or that she’s gotten her into a very exclusive restaurant, Carrie still looks down on Amalita for having seemingly transactional relationships, despite Carrie reaping the benefits. The only person we can count on in the episode to have any sort of smart take about Amalita and the larger idea of sex work as real work is, of course, sex-positive Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who logically concludes that, “Money is power. Sex is power. Therefore, getting money for sex is simply an exchange of power.” Why Samantha wasn’t the sex columnist in SATC is possibly the show’s biggest loss!

When she ditches Miranda to eat veal with Big (S2, Ep. 8: The Man, the Myth, the Viagra)

Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker star in "Sex And The City" ("The Man, The Myth, The Viagra" episode). 1999 Paramount Pictures
Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica ParkerGetty Images

Though the major conceit of SATC is that your friends are the true loves of your life, Carrie still commits the cardinal sin of female friendship in Season 2 when she scraps her plans with Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) to have dinner with Big (Chris Noth), who is cooking her veal. Miranda’s enraged response rightly takes Carrie to task on two accounts: first, that it’s uncool that she blew her off for a “piece of politically incorrect meat,” and secondly, the more troubling fact that Carrie had no problem rearranging her life at a moment’s notice to fit Big’s, a pattern that first emerged when she began dating him. As Miranda tells Carrie, “It’s all about him.” Miranda isn’t the only person who Carrie slights in the episode; when Samantha considers dating septuagenarian multimillionaire Ed (Bill McHugh), Carrie is horrifically ageist.

When she goes to therapy for the wrong reasons (S2, Ep. 13: Games People Play)

SEX AND THE CITY, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jon BonJovi, playing a sexy game of 'Twister', ('Games Peopl
Sarah Jessica Parker and Bon JoviHBO/Everett Collection

After Carrie’s obsessive ranting about her breakup with Big forces her emotionally exhausted friends to stage an intervention, she reluctantly attends therapy, which she has every intention of ditching after the first session, but then she runs into Seth (a celebrity cameo by Bon Jovi), another patient, in the waiting room. She continues to go to therapy just to flirt with Seth, without doing any self-reflection on why she’s actually in therapy, until he asks her out on a date. After their first date, which includes a seductive game of Twister and ends with the pair sleeping together, Carrie discovers that actually listening to her therapist might have been a good idea: while her therapist told her she had a tendency to gravitate toward the wrong men, Seth reveals that the reason why he’s in therapy is because he loses interest in women once he sleeps with them. While Carrie’s self-serving motivations for going to therapy are bad, what’s worse is that beforehand, she expected her friends to carry the full brunt of her emotional labor, with absolutely no remorse or apology—and when they called her out, she joked that she needed “new friends” instead of therapy.

When she ignores the boundaries of an alcoholic love interest (S2, Ep. 16: Was It Good For You?)

After Carrie has a meet-cute with Patrick Casey (Richard Joseph Paul) on the street and gives him her number, she’s dumbfounded that he wouldn’t automatically be head over heels for her. Turns out, he’s in recovery for alcohol addiction, a reveal that Carrie jokes about tactlessly: “I love alcoholics…hell, I hope to be one some day!” Though Patrick tells Carrie that as part of his recovery, he’ll need to take it slow, she ignores the boundaries he’s set, instead prioritizing her wants over his needs—which, as expected, ends in disaster. Patrick, with his compulsive tendencies, becomes addicted to Carrie and when she rejects him, he relapses. Though Carrie spun the story into a pun-laden column, there’s nothing funny about derailing someone’s sobriety.

When she admits she doesn’t vote (S3, Ep. 1: Where There’s Smoke and S3, Ep. 2: Politically Erect)

384168 04: Actors Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie) and John Slattery (Bill) act in a scene from the HBO television series "Sex and the City" third season, episode "Where There's Smoke".
Sarah Jessica Parker and John SlatteryParamount Pictures/Newsmakers/Getty Images

While Carrie may have been horrified by the secret affinity her politician beau, Bill (John Slattery), had for a golden shower, she should have been more aghast at what she openly admitted to him at the beginning of their relationship: that she doesn’t vote. Bill dumps Carrie for being a sex columnist, a decision that may have been rooted in gendered conventions on what is respectable and what is not. But Carrie seems to be on a one-woman mission to prove that she can be just as limited in her thinking with her unabashed kink-shaming and her lax approach to civic duty.

When she freaks out about dating a bisexual person (S3, Ep. 4: Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl)

Of all the storylines of SATC that have aged poorly (and there are many), Carrie’s bisexual panic in the third season might be the worst. In the episode, Carrie’s dating Sean (Eddie Cahill), a creative millennial with a zine, who’s into both men and women. After finding out Sean dated a man, Carrie is fixated on his sexuality and spends the majority of her time with him questioning what drives his attraction. Privately, she gripes to her friends that she doesn’t believe bisexuality exists, going so far as to say that it’s a “layover on the way to gay town.” It’s a questionable, even egregious look for a sex columnist, one who is so close-minded that she can’t even indulge in a harmless game of spin the bottle with all genders while attending a birthday party for Sean’s male ex. When the bottle pairs Carrie with a lesbian friend of Sean’s (played, famously, by none other than Alanis Morissette) Carrie leaves the party and the relationship, citing her age as an excuse, but it’s clear that it’s really because of her biphobia.

When she cheats on Aidan with Big (S3, Ep. 9: Easy Come, Easy Go)

Like her unsuccessful attempt to kick her smoking habit, it always seemed inevitable that Carrie would give in to the attentions of Big, the human equivalent of an irresistible vice. Though Big and Natasha (Bridget Moynahan) are married and Carrie is seemingly happy with her boyfriend Aidan (John Corbett), a chance encounter between the two at Aidan’s booth at a furniture fair (which, unfortunately, also gave us a cringe-worthy moment of Carrie referring to herself as Aidan’s wood-waxing “booth bitch”), somehow culminates in the pair starting an affair.

While Carrie and Big make out in a hotel elevator and later share a post-coital cigarette (another count of cheating against Aidan, with whom her relationship was contingent on the promise she wouldn’t smoke), Natasha is home alone and Aidan is busy renovating Carrie’s apartment, which he just bought for her. While there’s no doubt that Carrie and Big, two very selfish and emotionally toxic people, have always deserved one another, this episode highlighted how much they hurt others—and how little either of them cared about the consequences of their actions.

When she forces Natasha to hear her apology (S3, Ep. 17: What Goes Around, Comes Around)

Despite having an affair with Natasha’s husband and causing her to break a tooth upon confirmation of said affair, Carrie, for some truly unfathomable reason, feels the need to apologize to Natasha in person to seek some kind of absolution, after she hears about Natasha and Big’s divorce. When it’s clear that Natasha doesn’t want to see Carrie, Carrie’s delusional response is to stalk Natasha, enlisting the help of some unwitting assistants, culminating in a one-woman ambush of Natasha at lunch. Carrie, though sincere in her apology, is so self-absorbed that she can’t for the life of her even consider that Natasha wouldn’t want to accept her apology or see her in person, but Natasha makes sure to set the record straight, calling out Carrie for everything from the affair to being the cause of her painful dental surgeries to ruining her lunch.

When she sends Aidan to help Miranda, then forgets to bring cream cheese with her apology bagels (S4, Ep. 7: Time and Punishment)

Carrie manages to undermine the feelings and the dignity of both her boyfriend and her best friend in Season 4, when amidst some very uncomfortable tension with Aidan after she confesses to her affair with Big, she enlists him to help Miranda, who has injured her neck and can’t get up. Miranda, who has unwisely relied on Carrie as her emergency contact, is lying naked on her bathroom floor, when she discovers that Carrie, because of a meeting with her editor, has sent Aidan in her stead. Though Aidan, ever the gentleman, gallantly (and modestly) rescues Miranda, she’s still upset with Carrie—even more so when Carrie shows up the next day with bagels, a thoughtful gesture that turns out to be an excuse for Carrie to talk about her issues with Aidan. Miranda rightly calls out Carrie for bringing “bullsh-t bagels,” an accusation that’s backed up by the fact that Carrie didn’t even think to bring cream cheese. Forsaking your friend in her hour of need is bad, but forgetting to bring cream cheese for the apology bagels? That’s inexcusable.

When she yells at Aidan after her computer crashes (S4, Ep. 8: My Motherboard, Myself)

Carrie’s inability to let Aidan support her comes into full view in Season 4, after her laptop crashes because of a virus. Though Aidan does all he can to help her, Carrie uses all of his attempts as an excuse to berate and belittle him, even going so far as to blame him for the crash because he was kissing her when her computer died. (All this despite the fact that she did herself no favors by never backing up her computer—how she survived this long as a journalist is a true mystery.)

When it’s clear that Carrie’s computer may never recover, Aidan surprises her with a brand new laptop and a hard drive to back up her files on, she rejects his gift, citing that she already has a computer and isn’t ready for a new one. To add insult to injury, after Miranda’s mother dies (which Carrie, cringily, tries to compare to her computer dying), Carrie refuses to let Aidan come to the funeral with her. Even though it was her computer that crashed during this episode, it’s very clear that Carrie is the one who needed a serious reboot.

When she invites Big to Aidan’s cabin (S4, Ep. 10: Belles of the Balls)

SEX AND THE CITY, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Corbett, ('Sex and the Country', Season 4), 1998-2004,
Sarah Jessica Parker and John CorbettHBO/Everett Collection

When it comes to Big, Carrie has few to no boundaries, which is made abundantly clear when she invites Big to Aidan’s cabin outside of the city. Even though Aidan has explicitly told Carrie that he doesn’t want her to speak with or see Big following their affair, Carrie secretly meets up with Big for dinner and learns he’s dating a movie star. But when Big calls Carrie because he’s been broken up with, she invites him to Aidan’s cabin for a short chat—that, thanks to a storm, turns into an awkward “three’s company” weekend. While there’s palpable tension between Big and Aidan, what may be the most unsettling is that Carrie is willing to jeopardize the relationship she’s currently in for the man who emotionally damaged her so drastically in the past that she’s unwilling to commit to her current boyfriend.

When she guilt-trips Charlotte into helping her buy her apartment (S4, Ep. 16: Ring a Ding Ding)

There may be no better proof that Carrie lives in a reality of her own making than when, in the wake of her second breakup with Aidan, she discovers that she’ll need to buy back her apartment from him in 30 days or leave her home for good. Carrie, who reveals in the episode that she has less than $2000 total in her checking and savings accounts combined, but $40,000 worth of designer shoes, tries to find funding in some truly mind-boggling ways: by taking the bus, applying for a loan which is instantly denied, then asking Big for “financial advice” (as expected, he writes her a check for the price of the apartment, which she takes, but ultimately decides not to use), before, finally, turning to her friends.

Though Miranda, who is pregnant with her first child, and Samantha both offer to loan her the money to buy the apartment, Carrie is offended and fixated on the fact that Charlotte (Kristin Davis), jobless and recently divorced from Trey (Kyle MacLachlan) but flush with a generous settlement from the split, didn’t offer her financial help. To address this, she throws a tantrum at Charlotte’s apartment, ostensibly shaming her for being a bad friend, all while not taking any accountability for being extremely financially irresponsible. Charlotte ends up gifting Carrie her engagement ring from Trey, which Carrie sells, then uses the money to buy her apartment. While Carrie vows to pay Charlotte back, her expectation that her friends would bail her out, no questions asked, after years of financial irresponsibility, is truly entitled and completely lacking self-awareness—and there's never any update on whether or not Carrie ever reimburses Charlotte.

When she judges Samantha for hooking up with the delivery man (S5, Ep. 4: Cover Girl)

Carrie, once again, proves that she’s the world’s worst sex columnist when she walks in on Samantha in a compromising position with a delivery man. For the rest of the episode, Carrie proceeds to tease and sex-shame one of her closest friends, a friend who was unfailingly loyal and nonjudgmental in the face of Carrie’s decision to have an affair with Big and who’s also dealing with Carrie’s neuroses as she handles the press rollout for her new book. Samantha, for her part, doesn’t put up with Carrie’s condemnation, giving us an instantly iconic rejoinder: “I will not be judged by you or society,” she says in the episode. “I will wear whatever and blow whomever I want, as long as I can breathe and kneel.”

When she’s so self-absorbed that Stanford has to call her out (S5, Ep. 6: Critical Condition)

SEX AND THE CITY, Willie Garson, 'Critical Condition', (Season 5, ep. 506, aired August 25, 2002), 1
Willie GarsonHBO/Everett Collection

Self-awareness has never been Carrie’s strong suit, but her obliviousness to the lives of her friends was in rare form in Season 5 when she spent the majority of the episode obsessing over whether or not Aidan was telling people that she had broken his heart. (In Aidan’s defense, Carrie did cheat on him and break up with him twice, including when they were engaged.) While Stanford (Willie Garson) is in the blissful honeymoon stage of a new relationship, he still makes time to patiently listen to Carrie fret ad nauseam about what people might think about her relationship with Aidan. When Stanford finally gets the chance to get a word in edgewise and asks Carrie what she thinks of his new boyfriend, she can’t even be bothered to say anything but a one-word response, before spiraling about Aidan and her reputation again.

Stanford, rightly, calls her out, pointing out that he’s done tons of emotional labor for her over the years, listening to the ups and downs of her relationships, often while being single himself—making her inability to engage with him about his new relationship especially egregious. Stanford isn’t the only person who takes Carrie to task for her self-absorption; new mom Miranda, sleep-deprived and balancing her return to work with co-parenting Brady, gives Carrie some much-need perspective after the latter spends the better part of a phone call obsessing over Aidan, without as much as a thought about Miranda’s challenges with the baby or even her lack of time for herself after becoming a mother.

When she drags Samantha on a cross-country train trip, just to kick her out of their hotel room to sleep with Big (S5, Ep. 7: The Big Journey)

SEX AND THE CITY, (from left): Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, 'The Big Journey', (Season 5, ep.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim CattrallHBO/Everett Collection

When Carrie goes to California for a stop on her book tour, she invites Samantha for moral support on the off chance that she might have a rendezvous with Big, who now lives in Napa. Carrie, who is afraid of plane travel, plans a cross-country train trip with the final destination being a luxury hotel in San Francisco. Samantha, always game, agrees, but both are dismayed when their vision of a glamorous train trip is shattered by its shabby reality (a cramped sleeper room with a scary looking toilet).

Once they make it to California, Samantha attempts to decompress from their harrowing journey by having a bubble bath in their luxury suite, but is unceremoniously forced out of the tub and into a smaller room on another floor by Carrie, who wants the suite to herself to woo Big, after he unexpectedly shows up to her book reading. It’s one thing to choose a man over a friend, but quite another to kick a friend out of her bubble bath and hotel room for a man. In the end, Carrie doesn’t even sleep with Big that night, but because Samantha is a class act, she chooses to take the high road and books Carrie and herself first class seats on a flight back to New York.

When she makes it all about her after her breakup with Berger (S6, Ep. 7: The Post-It Always Sticks Twice)

To be clear, Berger (Ron Livingston) is the biggest villain in this episode because he broke up with Carrie with a Post-It note that read: “I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me." But Carrie is a close second. For the entirety of the episode, Carrie uses the Post-It to manipulate people into doing what she wants—from guilting Miranda to go out with her to forcing Berger’s friends to talk to her at the club to even getting out of being arrested by the NYPD for smoking weed. Breakups are bad, particularly when they happen via Post-It, but they don’t absolve Carrie’s need to make everything all about herself, all of the time.

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