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Sex and the City airs final episode in U.S. Add to ...

Torn between two lovers, Carrie Bradshaw returned to Mr. Big and New York, ditching Aleksandr in Paris, on Sunday's finale of Sex and the City.

Her big decision settled a question this HBO comedy had been building toward for six seasons: What man, if any, would Carrie end up with?

The satisfying answer: Carrie (series star Sarah Jessica Parker) chose the on-again/off-again businessman beau (Chris Noth) with whom she first struck sparks on the series' premiere.

But first, she had to confront her mistake in leaving her world behind to move to Paris with Aleksandr, the self-involved, neglectful artist played by Mikhail Baryshnikov.

"I am someone who's looking for love, real love ... can't-live-without-each-other love - and I don't think that love is here," Carrie tells him.

Moments later, Big, who has come to his senses and raced across the ocean to bring her home, finds her, alone, in her hotel lobby.

"It took me a really long time to get here," he says. "But I'm here. Carrie, you're the one."

After nearly 100 romantic and often raunchy instalments, Sex closed the book with a top-secret, much-hyped conclusion that made good on its promise to resolve the love life of New York sex columnist Carrie.

Meanwhile, it nicely tied up some details concerning her three gal pals:

- Miranda, the hard-nosed realist played by Cynthia Nixon, remained a happy mother and the wife of bartender Steve, living in Brooklyn (where she opened her heart to Steve's ailing mother, inviting her to come live with them).

- Charlotte, the idealist (Kristin Davis) and her husband, Harry (formerly her divorce lawyer) got their wish, at last: they'll be adopting a baby girl from China.

- And hot-blooded Samantha (Kim Cattrall) was solid with her boy-toy hunk, Smith, despite the loss of her sex drive from treatment for breast cancer. In a tender moment, he declares his love for her. "You've meant more to me than any man I've ever known," a tearful Samantha replies.

Voila! A few scenes later, she's her lusty self, nude in the sack astride Smith. Her final line is a howl of pleasure.

Back in New York, Carrie surprises her friends at the coffee shop where they've exchanged so many confidences with one another (and viewers) through the years.

Then, as a special treat at the fadeout, the man Carrie dubbed "Mr. Big" so long ago phones her and, for the first time, viewers learn his real name, displayed on the caller ID: John.

"The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself," says Carrie in her role as narrator. "And if you find someone to love the you you love," she concludes, "well, that's just fabulous."

The Sex finale doesn't air in Canada until March 26 on Bravo.

The Manhattan-set series, which premiered in June 1998, became a cultural phenomenon, defining a new breed of modern woman who wasn't afraid to talk about men - and her desire for them - with raw honesty even as she placed top priority on friendships with other women.

But as the announced end neared, accompanied by a flood of eulogies, a contradictory message was gaining volume: Maybe this won't be the sure-nuff end of Sex, after all.

The series' top executive, Michael Patrick King, and the show's cast are in discussions with HBO about a movie that would continue the saga, HBO spokeswoman Tobe Becker confirmed Thursday.

The details remained in doubt. Indeed, in addressing the question two weeks ago, co-producer Parker unleashed a flood of conditionals befitting a politician on the stump.

"I haven't made any decisions about how we might revisit this show and in what medium," she said, listing several unrelated projects that might occupy her for the immediate future.

"It's very important to me that we are dignified and graceful in our exit from the (current) series," Parker declared. "After that, if we hear a cry from the public, I think we have to respond to that, if we can do right by them."

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