It’s been nearly two decades since the premiere of Sex and the City, and it’s safe to say a lot has changed since Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha graced our television screens with their flashy crop tops and dishy one-liners. But when it debuted in June 1998, Sex and the City caught the attention of viewers in part because it depicted female friends talking openly and frankly about sex and intimacy, paving the way for shows like Girls, Insecure, and Broad City.
And no one was more unapologetic than Samantha Jones, the sex-positive, ageism-shaming, career-driven powerhouse whose feminism was a welcome breath of fresh air.
While viewing some scenes through a modern lens would make many women cringe (ahem, Carrie, Mr. Big is an emotional abuser), here are nine great Samantha moments from the HBO series and its movie spin-offs that have stood the test of time:
When she stood firmly behind her decision not to have kidsHBO
["The Baby Shower," August 9, 1998] Throughout the series, Samantha makes it abundantly clear that having children is not in the cards for her. She neither gives in to societal pressure nor does she see her decision as leaving a void in her life — in fact, she celebrates her singledom.
When she took nudes of herself, for herself...Getty Images
["The Real Me," June 3, 2001] The oldest of the friend foursome, Samantha occasionally laments her growing pains, from menopause to wrinkles. In Season 4, though, she decides to celebrate her body by having nude photos taken, a blatant rejection of the sexist notion that women need to be ashamed of their bodies, especially as they grow older.
...And when she defended her right to wear sexy clothes, tooBrian Ach/WireImage
[Sex and the City 2, 2010] In a moment from the cinematic sequel, a judgmental store clerk dares to tell Ms. Jones what's appropriate for a woman her age to wear. Samantha declares, "I'm fifty-fucking-two, and I will rock this dress."
When she courted and dated a younger manHBO via Giphy
["Great Sexpectations," June 29, 2003] On television (and in real life), we often see younger women dating older men. The reverse is seldom depicted onscreen, and it tends to reinforce the message that women need to be taken care of, or that after a certain age they aren’t desirable anymore. But when Samantha sets her sights on 28-year-old Jerrod Smith, the fact that she's much older doesn't phase her. In fact, it makes her bolder in her pursuit of him — and it turns out to be her most meaningful relationship of the series.
When she proclaimed her sexual freedom loud and clearHBO via Giphy
["Cover Girl," August 11, 2002] One of Samantha’s most famous qualities is her unabashedly satisfying sex life. It's the subject of reproach from many characters throughout the series; even friends Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda might make a biting remark about it. But when Carrie starts to sound judgmental after catching Samantha with the courier, Jones finally puts her foot down.
When she urged her friends to stop looking for ‘the one’HBO
["Sex and the City," June 6, 1998] Much of Sex and the City revolves around the women's relationships. Samantha, however, makes the point that a full life can be lived with or without a man. She calls out their own internalized sexism from the very beginning (in the pilot!).
When she called out sexist double standards for working womenHBO
["Belles of the Balls," July 29, 2001] When Samantha vies for a position working with a prominent hotel tycoon and hears that he’s reluctant to hire women, she spells out the frustration that many women face in the workplace every day. They can’t seem too sensitive, for fear of losing credibility. But if they're too stoic, they'll be deemed hard to work with or unapproachable. Nevertheless, Samantha is determined to land the job and finally succeeds, without changing who she is in the process.
When she ultimately decided to put herself firstHBO via Giphy
[Sex and the City, 2008] This unfolds at the end of the first movie, but it's still one of the most important decisions her character makes. Despite Smith's loyalty to Samantha and her love for him, she realizes that her true happiness lies within. She doesn’t need anyone or anything else to fulfill her. It’s a brave choice that many women might be afraid to make, but it's the epitome of Samantha’s self-actualization.
When she turned the concept of ‘soul mates’ on its headHBO / Getty Images
[Sex and the City 2, 2010] This special moment was preceded by the four friends singing a lively cover of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" at a karaoke bar. After Samantha turns down a handsome suitor to spend the night with her best friends, she explains that her three “soul mates” always come first. The term is usually reserved for romantic relationships, but Samantha uses it in a way that signals that the love and support offered by the strong female friendships in her life are the most valuable gifts of all.
"We made a deal ages ago. Men, babies, it doesn't matter. We're soul mates."