Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 2 of The CW's "The Carrie Diaries," titled "Lie With Me."
"Lie With Me" is a steady second episode of "The Carrie Diaries," the prequel to the beloved HBO series "Sex and the City." Though the episode did not convince me that a must-see series lies ahead, it did keep me entertained enough so I continue tuning in. And one thing is clear--AnnaSophia Robb carries the show, and for that reason alone, "The Carrie Diaries" is worth watching.
As the title suggests, Carrie spends the second episode exploring the risks of lying and the virtues of truth telling. The theme harkens back to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw, who was freakishly skilled at lying to herself and others. Part of me still hasn't forgiven her for cheating on Aiden, even though I was hoping for a happy Carrie and Big ending the whole time. While the Pinocchio premise is a cute one for a teenage girl starting a new relationship with the local bad boy and embarking on weekly adventures in Manhattan, there was some trouble in its execution.
The CW series adopts the voice-over narration used in the HBO episodes, but it lacks the structure of Carrie's weekly column that tightly wove the various storylines into one greater narrative. The CW series has not yet effectively traded Carrie's New York Star column for a diary entry, so the theme and lessons are somewhat convoluted.
But we learn that Carrie perfected the art of lying as a teenager. "Lie With Me" opens with Carrie lamenting that she's grounded for missing her curfew last episode. Carrie and Sebastian are something of an item but she feels threatened that popular queen bee Donna LaDonna might steal him at any moment. So Carrie lies about going to the swim club with her sister Dorrit to meet Sebastian for a steamy make-out session instead. Carrie gets caught and her dad forbids her to date Sebastian, but it looks like Carrie will lie to her father about seeing him.
Carrie and Sebastian flirt at school and on the phone from their respective bedrooms. The phone call scene was adorably reminiscent of SJP's Carrie on the phone with Big. Sebastian has a Big-ish quality about him -- infuriatingly cool, annoyingly calm and seemingly collected. Like Big, Sebastian has the ability to make Carrie go from feeling her best to her worst in the matter of seconds. Robb was excellent in this scene, quickly transitioning from a flirty, confident ingénue who has her boyfriend eating out of the palm of her hand, to a self-conscious outsider on the phone with the most popular boy in school.
Meanwhile, Carrie's best friends Maggie and Walt, who are a couple, consider having sex for the first time. The only issue is that Walt is coming to terms with his sexuality and Maggie is actually sleeping with a local police officer. Maggie's storyline here is just too ridiculous for me, but I'm also not particularly interested in Maggie or Mouse (Carrie's other best friend). However, I am invested in Walt. I think his friendship with Carrie is the most touching and that Brendan Dooling is a solid choice for the role. Walt breaks up with Maggie by the end of the episode in a scene that's emotionally charged (thanks to Dooling's performance).
Carrie heads into Manhattan for her law firm internship. Her supervisor is a tightly-wound, red-headed attorney named Barbara (Kate Nowlin) who reminded me of a version of Cynthia Nixon's Miranda Hobbs. While I think intern Carrie is fun to watch (I love how she completely ignores the one rule against making personal phone calls), I don't think Barbara's character needs to exist. The only way I will enjoy watching her is if Carrie takes her shopping at Century 21--so here's to hoping for a makeover montage scene set to Madonna's "Borderline" in Episode 3.
Carrie lies to Barbara about needing to run an errand so she can bring her purse to Larissa, the style editor for Interview magazine who wants to photograph her bag for a spread. Larissa gives Carrie a custom Christian Dior scarf for making the trek, which Carrie later gives to Barbara when she's getting yelled at for returning to the office late.
Though she's no longer grounded, Carrie chooses to spend her Saturday night laughing over peanut butter and jelly saltine sandwiches with Dorrit, Mouse and Maggie -- another homage to SJP's Carrie and her SSB (secret single behavior).
"I like to make a stack of saltines. I put grape jelly on them. I eat them standing up in the kitchen reading fashion magazines," Carrie tells Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha in Season 4. Apparently that behavior originated in her childhood home, standing in her kitchen with her best friends and sister.
Overall, the scenes filled with teenage angst in suburban Conn. are more entertaining than the ones of Carrie in Manhattan, and I hope that show creator Amy B. Harris doesn't rush to put Carrie in her Manolos. I feel even more certain after Episode 2 that I do not need to see this Carrie Bradshaw grow up into the one I already know and love. In fact, I like watching Robb navigate the hallways of Castlebury High so much that I almost hope she grows up into someone else.
"The Carrie Diaries" airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the CW.
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