“Honesty is the best policy.” It’s the first rule of human decency, the one our parents made us parrot back to them before we began kindergarten. But, despite young Carrie Bradshaw’s rote learning of the phrase, she’s having a hard time practicing what her parents preached. The title of the Carrie Diaries‘ second episode is “Lie with Me,” and it couldn’t be truer to its word. The four cardinal forces in Carrie’s life — romance, family, career, and Manhattan — are pulling her in opposite directions and something has got to give. Will a fib here and a falsehood there save the day, or will Carrie get lost in her own labyrinth of lies?
Let’s start with Sebastian – hey, the hot guy is as good a place as any, right? In the week since Sebastian has reappeared on Carrie’s radar, he’s gone from a blip to a full-on red alert. Red hot alert, duh. The two are acting like the halls of Castlebury High are the set of a cover shoot for a steamy romance novel (which, Carrie told us, are all the rage in 1984). Their interactions are filled with longing glances, breathy whispers, and almost-kisses that could fog windows, but the two aren’t official yet. Carrie’s grounding — earned when her night at Indochine made her come home an hour after curfew — is getting in the way of their would-be-relationship, and Prima Donna Donna is more than happy to drive the wedge in even further.
The first test of Carrie and Sebastian’s non-relationship comes when Poor Little Rich Boy is made to spend an evening at the country club with his dad while Carrie washes cars and watches movies with younger sister Dorrit. “Don’t get into too much trouble without me,” Carrie coyly begs, followed quickly by an earnest, “You won’t, right?” He might. As luck may have it, overly seductive Donna (whom Carrie’s friends not-so-affectionately call “Big Lips and Big Boobs”) just so happens to be at the country club with her parents that night. Donna wastes no time in whisking Sebastian off on a tour, which culminates in smoking a joint on an outdoor bench. “I lost my virginity on this very bench,” Donna purrs. Subtle, lady. Donna leans in for a kiss and… we cut to commercial.
Thanks to a tip from Mouse — does everyone have a membership to this country club? — Carrie questions Sebastian about his night Monday at school. He fails to mention his little run-in with Donna. While the red flag in Carrie’s mind begins to rise, Donna descends the staircase, her shoulders draped in Sebastian’s blazer. Carrie is all, “Oh no you didn’t,” and looking for answers. Luckily, Sebastian is happy to oblige. You see, he didn’t kiss her after all, and he does like Carrie an awful lot and he wants to see more of her. Heck, he even invites her to a Blue Oyster Cult (“I wasn’t sure if he was speaking about a band or a food”) concert. Carrie and Sebastian are clearly ready to take things to the next level, but that’s hard to do when you’re not allowed to go anywhere besides school and work. And Donna is always lurking. Lurking with her crop tops and excessively large hair and earrings.
Speaking of work, it’s clear Carrie has the worst kind of Gopher internship, and the mountain of files Carrie’s boss has piled on top of her is problematic for Carrie. How can she sneak away to alluring DUMBO — no Carrie, not like the elephant — for Larissa’s photo shoot of her nail polish-splattered purse when she has so much work to do? Lie, obviously. Carrie makes up some elaborate story about binders and the printer and dashes off to Brooklyn. Carrie somehow manages to escape the dreary offices of White Person and White Person, help style an Interview magazine photo shoot with her drip painted purse, hold the reins of a zebra, collate 60 binders, and pick up Chinese food for b**chy boss lady’s lunch all before end of day. Seems to me like Carrie is also lying about her acquisition of a Hermione-style Time Turner.
On a rebel’s high after ditching work for play, Carrie decides to ditch her grounding to fit in time for another kind of play. Before Donna can pounce again, Carrie asks Sebastian to meet her at 4:00 at the swim club — the scene of their first kiss. The swim club, you see, is not only a dad-approved after-school location, but is also where Carrie told her sister they could partake in some sisterly bonding. Dorrit forewent a film club field trip for some splashy time with her big sis, and Carrie is about to let her down in a serious way. You can’t help but frown knowing that poor Dorrit’s little faux-rebellious heart is going to shatter due to Sebastian’s impact.
Of course, that’s exactly what happens. Carrie lets down her sister (lightly, she thinks) and then proceeds to make out with her ab-tastic almost-boyfriend in the deep end. Unfortunately, a scorned Dorrit is not one to be trifled with. She spills the beans to Mr. Bradshaw who high-tails it on down to the Y to prevent his eldest daughter from losing her innocence in the murky chlorine. Needless to say, when he finds her attached at the mouth to a 6′ tall brooding blond WHEN SHE IS GROUNDED no less, he is not amused. No firm handshake from Sebastian is going to change Mr. Bradshaw’s mind on this one – Carrie is forbidden from seeing her almost-love.
Personally, I think Carrie shows a lot of restraint as her father tells her that she is allowed to date, she’s just not allowed to date Sebastian. He knows something about him, or about the Kydd family, that he seems to think is bad news, and Carrie is not allowed to go anywhere near him. He doesn’t care that Sebastian is “the cutest boy at school,” Carrie must stay 500 ft away from him at all times. I’m not sure if it is to her credit or a demonstration of a serious character flaw, but Carrie takes it all in stride. She’s obviously not thrilled that she has to skip the Green Clam Society (or whatever) show, but she doesn’t scream and yell and stomp her feet (like I would have). Instead, she plans a girls night in watching a bootlegged copy of Purple Rain with Dorrit and Mouse. Oh, the ’80s.
While Carrie is square dancing between family and romance, her BFFs Walt and Maggie are having a dance of their own. The problem with these two is clearly that Walt is gay, but he either doesn’t know it yet or doesn’t want to come out. His reluctance to do the deed with his girlfriend of two years, sex-hungry Maggie, drives her into an ill-advised affair with an older police officer. Watching said older police officer paw at unbuttoned shirt after Maggie asks him to “just lie with her, for a minute” is heartbreaking. The poor girl is looking for intimacy in all the wrong places.
In the most genuinely tender moment of the episode, Walt reveals to Maggie that while he loves her, he is not interested in her in “that way.” He doesn’t come out and say that he is gay, but he is certainly on the right track to being honest with himself. As tears roll down Maggie’s cheeks, Walt pulls her in for an honest, loving embrace.
As in the pilot, the final scene of this episode helps lay the foundation for the Carrie we come to know in Sex and the City. Four ladies, not yet women at this point — Carrie, Mouse, Dorrit, and Maggie — find love and support in one another when they have been let down by their boys. After the older three lament their man woes, Dorrit posits, “You guys are so lame.” The exclamation of “Totally!” and self-aware laughter that follows is the same we see in four different women — well, Carrie and three different women — a decade down the road. Carrie’s kitchen is brunch in SoHo, lite.
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[Photo Credit: The CW]