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Rebecca Shapiro

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'The Carrie Diaries' Recap: It's All About About The Labels

Posted: 01/28/2013 6:04 pm

Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 3 of The CW's "The Carrie Diaries," titled "Read Before Use."

"In reality, nothing is ever as simple as the label we give it," a young Carrie Bradshaw says at the end of "Read Before Use." In the third episode of "The Carrie Diaries," the over-analytical teenager struggles to look beyond the labels she quickly fashions for herself, her family and her friends. She realizes that sometimes, labels are not created in haste, but descriptions that are earned.

Similar to the second episode of the series, "Read Before Use" suffered from the show's inability to crisply convey its central theme. The episodes need a stronger structural element to weave the various subplots together. I don't need to hear Carrie say the word "label" more than 30 times as her voice narrates over scenes to understand that this episode is about, well, labels.

I love Amy B. Harris' writing. In fact, she wrote two of what I consider to be the best "Sex and the City" episodes ever -- "Ring A Ding Ding" (where Charlotte gives Carrie the engagement ring from Trey for her apartment down payment), and "Hop, Skip and A Week" (the legendary episode where Berger breaks up with Carrie on a Post-it). But there's a difference between crafting age-appropriate storylines and dumbing down the writing. I fear we are dealing with the latter here, which is a shame, because I think this series has great potential.

Carrie continues to hang out with Larissa, the Interview magazine style editor she met at Century 21. I love the idea of Carrie spending time with an older, trendy and tapped-in party girl who introduces her to New York City nightlife. I would just prefer that older party girl be discerning enough to realize when she's hanging out with a 16-year-old.

Carrie's romance with Sebastian is still blossoming in and around Castlebury High. Her father has forbidden her from dating Sebastian, but that doesn't stop a defiant Carrie from seeing him against her father's wishes. She figures out that her dad was Sebastian's lawyer at some point in time and later learns how the object of her affection earned his bad boy label.

"Sebastian got kicked out of his last school because he had sex with his art history teacher," Carrie tells her friends Maggie and Mouse over lunch at a diner.

"Okay, gross. You can never date him!" Mouse responds.

"But it's sort of cool he took art history right?!"

I laughed out loud at this moment, and no, not ironically. It was a cute scene and Maggie and Mouse were more appealing to me here than usual. When Carrie meets up with Sebastian, she tells him (as though it's not a big deal at all) that she knows he had sex with his teacher. He freaks out (understandably) and ends things between them. And for some other reason, Carrie tells her dad that she broke into his work files to learn about Sebastian's case, which prompts her dad to explode at her. Carrie's naivete was palpable in both these scenes. Because she thinks her intentions are pure, she fails to understand the ramifications of her actions.

That night, Carrie accompanies Mouse into Manhattan. Mouse is on her way to see her ex-boyfriend Sean, the Princeton freshman she lost her virginity to over the summer. Carrie, Mouse and Sean meet up with Larissa at an art exhibit, which is actually a former porn star sitting on a throne-like chair and flashing her nether regions to interested parties for a penny. A PENNY. We get it, she's cheap. Anyways, this makes all three of the sixteen-year-olds uncomfortable. Mouse runs away, while Carrie has a dramatic moment in which she says that she's "owning [her] vagina" and getting the hell outta there. Right. So, as I wrote last week, the city scenes are not yet working for me, and I was happy that the majority of the episode took place in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Dorrit shoplifts a hamster she named Morrissey and brings him home. While their dad is out trying to socialize at a singles bar, Morrissey escapes from his shoebox. Carrie's dad eventually finds the hamster and takes both girls to the pet store to purchase a proper cage and food for the newest member of their family.

While I'm still not a fan of Mouse or Maggie, I am becoming more invested in Carrie's life at home and the Sebastian saga. The relationship between Carrie, Dorrit and their father is compelling, at-times cheesy and mostly enjoyable. I giggled while watching her dad try to buy tampons at the grocery store, but found myself cringing while seeing him talk to women at a singles bar. It felt tremendously out of place, and I hope there isn't a "Carrie struggles with her dad's dating life" storyline coming in Episode 4. Let's ease into that one, shall we? I'd prefer to watch more scenes of Carrie developing her love for high-end fashion by mulling over her mom's closet than seeing a new maternal figure move into one.

And there we have it! Did I miss anything? Are you enjoying watching the young Carrie Bradshaw navigate love and loss? Sound off in the comments below!

"The Carrie Diaries" airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on the CW.

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  • 'Beauty and the Beast'

    Detective Catherine Chandler is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective. Several years earlier, Catherine witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Catherine would have been killed too, but someone - or something - saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn't an animal that attacked the assassins...it was human. Years have passed, and Catherine is a strong, confident, capable police officer, working alongside her equally talented partner, Tess. While investigating a murder, Catherine discovers a clue that leads her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller, who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Catherine learns that Vincent is actually still alive and that it was he who saved her many years before. For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years to guard his secret - when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Catherine agrees to protect his identity in return for any insight he may have into her mother's murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Catherine and Vincent, who are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them.

  • 'The Carrie Diaries'

    It's 1984, and life isn't easy for 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw. Since their mother passed away, Carrie's younger sister Dorritt is more rebellious than ever, and their father Tom is overwhelmed with the responsibility of suddenly having to care for two teenage girls on his own. Carrie's friends - sweet, geeky Mouse, sarcastic and self-assured Maggie and sensitive Walt - make life bearable, but a suburban life in Connecticut isn't doing much to take her mind off her troubles. And even though the arrival of a sexy new transfer student named Sebastian brings some excitement to Carrie's world, she is struggling to move on from her grief. So when Tom offers Carrie the chance to intern at a law firm in Manhattan, she leaps at the chance. Carrie's eyes are opened wide at the glamour and grit of New York City - and when she meets Larissa, the style editor for Interview magazine, she's inspired by the club culture and unique individuals that make up Larissa's world. Carrie's friends and family may have a big place in her heart, but she's fallen in love for the first time with the most important man in her life - Manhattan.

  • 'The Carrie Diaries'

    It's 1984, and life isn't easy for 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw. Since their mother passed away, Carrie's younger sister Dorritt is more rebellious than ever, and their father Tom is overwhelmed with the responsibility of suddenly having to care for two teenage girls on his own. Carrie's friends - sweet, geeky Mouse, sarcastic and self-assured Maggie and sensitive Walt - make life bearable, but a suburban life in Connecticut isn't doing much to take her mind off her troubles. And even though the arrival of a sexy new transfer student named Sebastian brings some excitement to Carrie's world, she is struggling to move on from her grief. So when Tom offers Carrie the chance to intern at a law firm in Manhattan, she leaps at the chance. Carrie's eyes are opened wide at the glamour and grit of New York City - and when she meets Larissa, the style editor for Interview magazine, she's inspired by the club culture and unique individuals that make up Larissa's world. Carrie's friends and family may have a big place in her heart, but she's fallen in love for the first time with the most important man in her life - Manhattan.

  • 'Emily Owens, M.D.'

    At long last, Emily Owens feels like she is an actual grown-up. She can finally put her high school days as the geeky-girl-with-flop-sweats behind her; she's graduated from medical school and is now a first-year intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she'll have the chance to work with world-famous cardiologist Dr. Gina Beckett - and where, not-so-coincidentally, her med-school crush Will Rider is also an intern. So why does everyone keep warning her that the hospital is just like high school? Emily soon finds out the hard way - her high school nemesis, the gorgeous, popular Cassandra Kopelson, is also just starting out at Denver Memorial, and it seems like they're rivals all over again - not only as surgical interns, but for Will's attention. Fellow intern Tyra Granger warns Emily that the cliques at Denver Memorial are all too familiar: the jocks have become orthopedic surgeons; the mean girls are in plastics; the rebels are in the ER, and Tyra has her own awkward place as the principal's kid - her father is the chief resident. Emily's the new kid all over again, and it's just as awkward as high school. Only this time around, Emily will have to balance the personal and emotional turmoil of social politics with the high-stakes world of life-and-death medical decisions. At least she has fellow intern Tyra and nerdy-but-cute resident Micah, to count on as friends. Emily is growing to realize that although she may be a geek, she may also grow to be a great doctor, flop sweats and all.

  • 'Emily Owens, M.D.'

    At long last, Emily Owens feels like she is an actual grown-up. She can finally put her high school days as the geeky-girl-with-flop-sweats behind her; she's graduated from medical school and is now a first-year intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she'll have the chance to work with world-famous cardiologist Dr. Gina Beckett - and where, not-so-coincidentally, her med-school crush Will Rider is also an intern. So why does everyone keep warning her that the hospital is just like high school? Emily soon finds out the hard way - her high school nemesis, the gorgeous, popular Cassandra Kopelson, is also just starting out at Denver Memorial, and it seems like they're rivals all over again - not only as surgical interns, but for Will's attention. Fellow intern Tyra Granger warns Emily that the cliques at Denver Memorial are all too familiar: the jocks have become orthopedic surgeons; the mean girls are in plastics; the rebels are in the ER, and Tyra has her own awkward place as the principal's kid - her father is the chief resident. Emily's the new kid all over again, and it's just as awkward as high school. Only this time around, Emily will have to balance the personal and emotional turmoil of social politics with the high-stakes world of life-and-death medical decisions. At least she has fellow intern Tyra and nerdy-but-cute resident Micah, to count on as friends. Emily is growing to realize that although she may be a geek, she may also grow to be a great doctor, flop sweats and all.

  • 'Arrow'

    After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he's become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow - a vigilante - to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be - flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle - while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel's father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver's own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on - and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.

  • 'Cult'

    Robert Knepper as Billy Grimm/Roger Reeves and Alona Tal as Kelly/Marti.

 

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