Sex And The City: Behind-The-Scenes SecretsPublished on May 6, 2016. Updated May 19, 2020
Sex and the City was one of the greatest shows of all time with a fan base that just keeps on growing, even more since the show went off the air! The HBO series followed the lives of four professional women living in New York City and their struggles to find love while balancing their work, relationships, and family. It was a huge success, spawning two feature films and a spin-off series called The Carrie Diaries. The show was developed under unique circumstances — it’s based off a book that was coined from a collection of Candace Bushnell’s New York columns about her real-life dating experiences. Surprisingly, the rights for the book were bought from Bushnell for a very low price compared to what the franchise is worth now! It’s continued to uphold its popularity with a dedicated group of know-it-all fans who can reference quotes and refer back to specific scenes at the drop of a hat, so we’ve decided to try and dig up some things that the average fan might not know. Here’s a look at 15 behind the scenes secrets from the show:
15. The Magnolia Bakery
For some reason, the food in Sex and the City always looked so good. In fact, we could go for one of those huge pizza slices right about now…but the most famous foodie scene turned out to be when Miranda and Carrie are sitting on a bench in front of the Magnolia Bakery eating cupcakes. The scene was shot at the Magnolia Bakery on 401 Bleecker Street. This particular bakery became so popular after the show aired that they had to hire a bouncer! We’re pretty sure this is the first and only cupcake bouncer to exist!
14. Love Letters of Great Men
In the first Sex and the City movie, Carrie is sitting in bed with Big reading a book from the library called Love Letters of Great Men to gather inspiration for her next book. However, this wasn’t a real book; it was just made up for the movie. After the movie was released, millions of people were asking for the book so it was created. It’s now available on Amazon.
13. Diversifying Sex and the City
Sarah Jessica Parker (who became an executive producer on the show) pushed really hard to diversify the show which had been almost uniformly white throughout the entire series. In 2003, during the last season of the show, producers finally made some changes to their casting by having Blair Underwood play the role of Miranda’s new boyfriend, Dr. Robert Leeds, a physician for the New York Knicks. Cynthia Nixon commented on the changes: “We all of us and no one more than Sarah Jessica, had lobbied for this for a long, long time…I’m a huge fan of the show, but if we had area in which we really could use improvement, it’s certainly this one…I think it’s about time.” Prior to Underwood, the series lightly touched on race when the character of Samantha not only dated Chivon Williams but at one point had also had a Portuguese lover. Nixon also said, “I think Candace Bushnell, who wrote the original columns, the world she writes about is extremely white. That’s an argument to be made. But it is six years later now, and I think it’s irresponsible. I think it’s about time.”
12. Soho House
During the episode “Boy, Interrupted” Samantha runs into Pheobe (played by Spice Girl Geri Halliwell) on the street in front of the Soho House. Pheobe is boasting about her exclusive Soho membership that she gets to use during those hot and muggy days in New York City. Naturally, Samantha gets jealous and doesn’t like not having access to the finer things in life. While they were shooting that scene in front of the REAL Soho House, Victoria and David Beckham were actually inside the private members club.
11. Post-It Note
Most of the hilarious things that happened on the show actually happened in real life to the writers who worked on the show. They would share stories from their dating life and write them into the script. The episode where Berger breaks up with Carrie via a post-it note actually happened to someone! In that same episode, Miranda recounts how an ex broke up with her via their doorman — that was also a true story!
10. The Cocktails Were Fake and the Food was Real
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Sarah Jessica Parker said, “The Cosmopolitans were made of water and food coloring or watered down cranberry juice. Gingerale was a substitute for Champagne and red wine was always just grade juice.” The cocktails might have been fake, but that delicious food was real! Sarah Jessica Parker noted that whenever food was featured in a scene, she never let it go to waste. “I always ate the food. I don’t like food to sit in front of an actor and for it to not be eaten. It’s silly. Cynthia Nixon and I always ate everything and it didn’t matter if it was cold because it was our job. We didn’t need fancy food, we ate whatever could be made quickly — you don’t want to be ordering caviar!”
9. Kristen Davis Hid the Show From her Family
When Kristen Davis first started out as Charlotte York on Sex and the City, she told her family not to watch it and didn’t even tell her grandmother the name of the show or what it was about! She was afraid it was too risqué and that she wouldn’t understand it. However, as the years went on and the show gained popularity she confessed that her parents began watching the show after her grandmother passed away. Her dad, who was a psychology professor, got really into it and used it as part of his college lectures on “Marriage and Sexuality.” She said her mom definitely isn’t a fan of Samantha’s storylines though!
8. Big and Carrie Weren’t Mean to End Up Together
Creator of the show Darren Star said, “I think the show betrayed what it was about, which was that women don’t ultimately find happiness from marriage. Not that they can’t. But the show initially was going off script from the romantic comedies that had come before it. That’s what had made women so attached. At the end, it became a conventional romantic comedy. But unless you’re there to write every episode, you’re not going to get the ending you want.”
7. Sarah Jessica Parker Kept Most of the Clothes
One of the best things about Sex and the City was the fashion! We’ve all been envious of the endless clothes and shoes the women rocked throughout the series. Parker admitted after the show finished that she kept 70 percent of the wardrobe she had on set. She said, “I’ve kept everything that didn’t come directly from a designer or wasn’t rented. Yes, I have it in archive. I have literally everything!” There must have been a lot of clothes to choose from because none of the characters ever repeat the same outfit throughout the entire course of the show. Costume designer for the show, Patricia Field, said if an item was reused it was styled in a different way. The only piece of clothing was used twice in the same fashion was the fur coat Carrie wears in the final episode — it’s the same one she wore in the first episode. She also said each outfit was chosen for a specific reason and meticulously planned because producers never wanted an outfit to take away from an important moment.
6. Pete was Scared of Aiden
Aiden’s lovable dog Pete was actually scared of John Corbett, the actor who played Aiden on SATC. So producers had to get rid of the original dog and find a replacement.
5. There is a Real Mr. Big
Mr. Big was inspired by Candace Bushnell’s former fling, Ron Galotti, who was a big-time financier and magazine executive (he’d worked for GQ and Vogue). Bushnell had met him at a party back in 1995. This was soon after he broke up with Janice Dickinson. When asked about her first impression of him she said, “He was one of those New York guys with a big personality — you just notice him as soon as he walks in the room. I called him Mr. Big because he was like a big man on campus.” The two dated for a little over a year and, throughout their relationship, Bushnell was chronicling her “Sex and the City” column in the New York Observer which eventually gave birth to her book and the HBO series. Despite his initial inspiration for the character, Galotti’s playboy period was actually quite short. Chris Noth’s representation of him during that time was quite accurate, but in reality, it didn’t last long. He actually had two long marriages and Bushnell even admits, “Ron is much more of a well-rounded person than you’d think. He cooks, he gardens. In some ways, he’d prefer to be at home to going out on the town.” Similar to Carrie and Mr. Big, Candace was much more social and bubbly than Ron. Some things did remain true to his character though, like when Galotti taught Noth at an HBO party how to properly say Big’s trademark line, “absof-ckinglutely.”
4. Tiffany’s Window
The Tiffany’s store in New York City wouldn’t allow producers to film inside because of security reasons. So when the show had to do Trey’s proposal to Charlotte, they built their own fake Tiffany’s window. The jewelry store didn’t want to be misrepresented so they sent a store employee to approve the window before it was filmed.
3. Blind Dates
Willie Garson, who played the character of Stanford actually was set up on a blind date with Parker in real life years before Sex and the City began filming. This was also a storyline on the show! They are very close friends in real life.
2. Cutting it Close
Filming for the series finale “An American Girl in Paris – Part Deux” wrapped up on a Wednesday and the episode aired four days later on Sunday! Talk about cutting it close!
1. Twin Towers
The September 9/11 attacks occurred in between half seasons when the fourth season was split into two. The first part of the season ended on August 12, 2001, and returned on January 6, 2002. When the show returned the iconic World Trade Center towers were no longer featured in the opening credits. Originally, they were featured not once, but twice. The towers could be seen behind the credit “Starring Sarah Jessica Parker,” but after the 9/11 attacks, when the towers collapsed, the producer replaced the shot so that it showed the Empire State Building in the background instead. Michael Patrick King watched the towers collapse. “Like the rest of us, I had had all sorts of mixed feelings about the Twin Towers…But once they were gone, they were beloved.” Also, the infamous tutu Carrie is wearing in those opening credits was found in a bargain bin for $5. It’s now framed and hanging in Michael Patrick King’s office.