The Drama Surrounding Why Sex And The City Really Ended

The "Sex and the City" series ended after a celebrated six-year run. The hit show aired on HBO from 1998 to 2004 and was responsible for reshaping pop culture at the turn of the century. It was a story of four single New York women — Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha — who introduced us to iconic phrases like "lazy ovary" and "up-the-butt girl" (via Marie Claire). The show was one of the first to encourage sex-positive conversations among its viewers and allowed women to "embrace their sexual desires publicly," according to Nicole Evelina, author of "Sex and the City: A Cultural History" (via Rowman & Littlefield). The show was told through the eyes of sex columnist, Carrie Bradshaw, but the writers ensured that all four ladies had a full character arc throughout the six seasons. The friends stayed close and supported each other throughout their loves and heartbreaks, and in many ways, became our friends too. 

The show was never canceled, however, it was already known that it wouldn't return when it scored a series record of 10.6 million viewers for its final episode. According to The Wall Street Journal, the show's creator, Michael Patrick King, was already working on the script for the first movie at the show's close. Considering the amount of success and influence the show had generated, we couldn't help but wonder ... what really happened that caused the popular show to end?

Disputes about salary had always been an issue

Rumors of cast disputes regarding pay surrounded the show from the beginning and may have started as early as the second season. Allegedly, Kim Cattrall asked for her pay to be increased to match Sarah Jessica Parker's. The two stars could have easily presented a persuasive argument for increased pay by the time the show was in its second season — they'd both come to the show with similar recognition and value, and both played an important role in the series' success.

On IMDb, Parker was listed as a show producer from 2000 onward. Her character, Carrie Bradshaw, was the protagonist of the series, and from the start, began to quickly gain the attention of fashionistas worldwide. Bradshaw became known as the ultimate style icon which Parker helped influence. As well as being the lead actress and a producer, Parker also held the title of executive consultant where she contributed to Carrie Bradshaw's fashion choices.

On the other hand, Cattrall's character, Samantha Jones, was an idol in her own right. She was one of the most sexually liberated characters to be portrayed in mass media in history and helped boost the popularity of the show. According to Stats in the City, Samantha Jones uttered the most profane words and had the most sex scenes in the show. Cattrall knew she was changing the game with Samantha Jones and wasn't afraid to ask for what she was worth.

By the time Season 6 came around, Kim Cattrall needed a breather

Despite the "Sex and the City" movie script being worked out in 2004, the story didn't make it to the big screen until 2008. As the show was wrapping, Kim Cattrall was enduring one of the most challenging times in her life, and she simply wasn't ready to take on the project immediately after the conclusion of the show. "Four years ago I was going through a painful public divorce, the series was coming to an end, and my father was diagnosed with dementia," Cattrall told Marie Claire in 2008.

Cattrall took a couple of years to be with her own family and didn't worry about the "Sex and the City" empire, but she did continue to work. She starred in several movies and returned to her first love of theater when she played Claire Harrison, a woman with paralysis, in the play "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" Cattrall said that after the break she felt strong enough to revisit the idea of playing Samantha again. "In some ways, I'm glad we waited. The script and the experience of making the movie was the best possible reunion," she said.

Kim Cattrall did not sit with her co-stars at the Emmys

It's hard to believe there was any drama surrounding the 56th Annual Emmy Awards. The year was 2004, and "Sex and the City" was nominated for directing, casting, editing, writing, costume, and Outstanding Comedy Series — not to mention, all four actresses were nominated. Sarah Jessica Parker was nominated and won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, while Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, and Kim Cattrall were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, with Nixon taking home the award.

In 2018, Kristin Davis posted a photo on Instagram of her with Parker and Nixon at the 2004 Emmys. However, fans were quick to notice how the photo did not include Cattrall at the same table. The comments on Davis' post ranged from supportive of the show to defensive of the missing Cattrall. Some fans referred to Parker, Nixon, and Davis as "mean girls" while others tried to defend the actresses. One user wrote: "It's so interesting to see all the HATE on this page and all this fake outrage about Kim not being pictured... did you guys forget that Kim went on national TV and told everyone that these are NOT her friends and that they are JUST [colleagues] but y'all want Kristin to be fake and post her on her page.? Get out of here! #ByeKim"

Cast issues were downplayed in the media

The quarreling among cast members was brought up during numerous interviews over the years but rumors of tension were usually squelched. In 2008, Sarah Jessica Parker publicly defended Kim Cattrall's right to ask for more money and said there were no hard feelings. "Honestly, we are all friends and I wish I saw more of Kim. She mentioned money and no one should vilify her for it. People made a decision that we had vilified her," Parker told The Telegraph.

The men of "Sex and the City" also dismissed the drama in a 2008 interview with Marie Claire. Mario Cantone, who played Anthony Marantino, said: "Certain people were vilified in some articles, and others were vilified in other articles. It's interesting how they never write stuff like that about the men on 'The Sopranos.' They always go after the women. They just do."

In 2010, Cattrall maintained a rosy appearance about cast relationships in an interview with the Daily Mail. "People don't want to believe that we get on. They have too much invested in the idea of two strong, successful women fighting with each other," she explained. Despite downplaying any drama in 2010, by the time Cattrall was interviewed by Piers Morgan in 2017, her tune had changed. Cattrall claimed she was accused of being a diva by cast members and said of Parker: "I really think she could have been nicer. I don't know what her issue is" (via YouTube).

The cast made two movies, but Kim Cattrall said 'no' to a third

The cast made two additional movies with all four original stars. "Sex and the City" (2008) and "Sex and the City 2" (2010) made over $708 million combined worldwide and were well-received by fans of the series. But the rumors of tension on set continued to follow them throughout the filming of the movies. Crew members even reported to The Telegraph that the cast would not sit with Kim Cattrall at mealtimes on set. However, in an interview with Marie Claire in 2010, Kristin Davis addressed rumors that the cast didn't sit together at meals. "When I would get back from the set, I would go to the gym and get room service. I'm not a put-on-decent-clothes-and-go-to-the-hotel-restaurant person, but Kim is. The story was that we don't like each other. Ridiculous!" Davis said.

Later, Cattrall said she turned down a third movie unequivocally. She was tired of the predictable reports related to her salary demands and the "bullying" that was occurring within the show. "I went past the finish line playing Samantha Jones because I loved 'Sex and the City,'" Cattrall told The Guardian in 2019. "It was a blessing in so many ways but after the second movie I'd had enough. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't just replace me with another actress instead of wasting time bullying. No means no."

Things turned publicly sour in 2018

Kim Cattrall made it clear in an interview with Piers Morgan that the cast of "Sex and the City" were not friends. "We've never been friends. We've been colleagues, and in some ways, it's a very healthy place to be," she stated (via YouTube). But by 2018, there was no question that the relationship between Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker had turned sour. That year, Cattrall suffered a family tragedy when her brother, Christopher, died.

Parker sent condolences online but Cattrall quickly and publicly snapped back on her Instagram page. "My Mom asked me today 'When will that @sarahjessicaparker, that hypocrite, leave you alone?' Your continuous reaching out is a painful reminder of how cruel you really were then and now," Cattrall posted. "Let me make this VERY clear. (If I haven't already) You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I'm writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your 'nice girl' persona."

At the end of the post, Cattrall included a link with instructions to copy and paste. The link refers to an article in the New York Post titled "Inside the mean-girls culture that destroyed 'Sex and the City.'" The comments are turned off and Parker did not send a public response. A source on Parker's side told Us Weekly: "There's no love there, but Sarah Jessica was just being polite. It's sad."

Kim Cattrall did not join the others for the reboot

In 2021, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon joined forces again for the rebooted show "And Just Like That" on HBO Max. The trailblazing triad didn't ask Kim Cattrall to be part of the newest series, and Parker maintained to The Hollywood Reporter that it wasn't meant as a slam. Maturity and respect for boundaries helped the trio to realize they needed to part ways with Kim Cattrall. "You've got to listen to somebody," Parker admitted."If they're publicly talking about something and it doesn't suggest it's some place they want to be, or a person they want to play, or an environment in which they want to be, you get to an age where you're like, 'Well, we hear that.'"

Art imitated life and the writers created a rift between Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones — Parker and Cattrall's characters. Bradshaw told Jones she was no longer needed as a publicist, and Jones relocated to London, but her character still existed in an occasional text relationship. Show creator Michael Patrick King insisted that none of the mentions of Jones were meant to invite a reunion or open the door to bring her back. "Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha have had a little bit of a split," King told Entertainment Weekly. "So really what it is, and why it resonates, is because everybody believes those friendships were forever. The audience believed those friendships were forever."