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“Sex and the City” is about to pivot into a bold new future without one of its core cast members — but fans know that friendship, in all its complications, was at the heart of the original series.

In the run-up to the newly announced HBO Max series, “And Just Like That,” following three of the original four cast members, it’s likely that there’ll be significant interest in what came before. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall, who will not be returning to the franchise) all ended up paired off at TV series’ end, but all four were most committed to seeing one another through the challenges of life in New York. “Sex and the City” can be viewed as a time capsule of turn-of-the-century New York, but it isn’t all easy — after Sept. 11, 2001, the show took on a sweeter, softer tone, delving into the richness and potential of romantic and platonic love, but doing so with a tenderness that tends to be forgotten amid memories of puns and purses.

An awards magnet in its day (at the Emmys, the show was the first cable series to win best comedy, and Parker and Nixon nabbed acting prizes as well), “Sex and the City” remains to be discovered for the first time by curious viewers wondering exactly why Carrie and company were such a big deal two decades or so ago. Here is less a starting point — weighted as it is toward the show’s superior second half — than a guide of what the best moments are throughout the series’ run.