“Hush Hush” S1 / E8
- B Community Grade
For a show that seemed content to wallow in its own stagnation just a few short weeks ago, The Carrie Diaries is suddenly very committed to moving things forward. Last week, it was by finally giving Carrie permission to truly commit to the New York life she had been flirting with all along. But “Hush Hush” subtly subverts expectations by having Carrie’s decision immediately blow up in her face, saving us from having to endure what looked to be weeks of Carrie living a double life. It’s an exciting, interesting choice in that it takes away all of the certainty of last week’s big events and really gives no indication of what the series might look like a week from now. For a show that seemed so safe, so soon, it’s a great narrative development.
When we last saw Carrie’s New York life, she was walking in the door to start her new chapter at Interview magazine, a decision that seemed fraught with logistical impossibilities. What the show quickly makes clear is it isn’t concerned with the realistic details of Carrie’s decision; no, it’s far more wrapped up in what the new job means for Carrie as a person, glossing over the mechanics of the switch and instead focusing on how well Carrie fits in at the magazine. The intricacies of the lie were never the most interesting part, so blowing it off with a quick aside about how Bitchy Barbara is covering for her at the law firm is at once a patently silly and yet totally acceptable way to signal the show’s commitment to making this a character-driven story, not a plot-driven one.
No matter the mechanics, the emotional truth of the story remains important—this choice Carrie made is a sure betrayal to her father, and therefore is a big secret that must be kept. It could have become this unruly, unnatural thing, taking over all of their future father-daughter interactions and dragging out for the remainder of the season. Instead, it’s revealed quickly and in an appropriately dramatic fashion, when Mr. Bradshaw sees Carrie dancing at a club in the city when she is supposed to be at a lock-in event at the high school. Mr. Bradshaw isn’t the only one who finds out about Carrie’s secrets, as Larissa discovers them at the same time. But while Larissa is immediately accepting—crowing about having the youngest, hippest intern in the city—Mr. Bradshaw is obviously less pleased, taking away all of her future New York privileges as a punishment for her lies.
The conflict between the two is similar to ones they had earlier in the season when Carrie was getting into trouble with Sebastian. However, they take on an interestingly mature edge here because Interview magazine gave Carrie a purpose for her life, and idea of who she wants to be in the future—and she isn’t afraid to express that to her father, even though he dismisses her ideas as the fanciful flights of a teenager. The chasm between who a person wants to be and who their parents see them as being is a relatable, compelling thread, and I’m very interested to see where the show goes from here. Does Mr. Bradshaw relent and let Carrie chase her New York dreams? Or is the show cooling off on New York for good?
Carrie isn’t the only person with secrets this week. In an amusing and fun runner, Sebastian is secretly very much into Carrie again and Mouse very sweetly helps him try to win her back (after he secretly breaks up with Donna, of course). The show still has a Sebastian problem—I still have no idea why he decided he didn’t like Donna anymore, or why he likes Carrie again—but showing his commitment to winning Carrie back is a good start. It’s even better because while the idea of him showing up at the club to sweep Carrie off her feet is akin to a romantic movie at its finest, having him completely fail and yet just be satisfied he tried, happy to simply share some fries with Carrie at the end instead of having to prove something, is a nice little way to subvert teen drama conventions yet again.
The biggest, most hurtful secret this week, however, is probably the one Maggie is keeping from Walt. Despite her confession to Carrie last week and her promise to tell Walt right away, she can’t quite force herself to pull the trigger. When Sebastian breaks up with Donna and Donna sees how nice Walt can be, she decides Walt would be better off with her and tells him the secret in order to have him all for herself. Maggie is devastated, Donna and Walt are happy, and the whole thing is oddly more touching than it has any right to be considering it’s all wrapped in infidelity, manipulation, and lies. Donna even gets some interesting shading, admitting she’s hurt over getting dumped (something that’s never happened to her before) and seeming to genuinely enjoy Walt’s company. Poor Donna is likely to only get hurt again, however, as Walt’s continued confusion over his own sexual identity is still simmering in the background.
After a very strong start for the series, one that petered out into a bit of banal repetition after the first few episodes, the last two weeks of The Carrie Diaries have solidified this show’s status as one with real potential. It’s a potential the show is just now beginning to realize, especially with the decision to have Carrie’s New York life get shaken up so soon. For the second week in a row, I’m very curious to see where the story goes next.
- This episode was directed by Amy Heckerling and her deft touch with comedy is definitely felt. Mouse in particular had quite a bit of a better comedic pitch to her character than in previous episodes. Mouse and Sebastian are a pretty great pair.
- Carrie gets her signature drink (a cosmopolitan) and her signature shoe obsession (via a pair of gifted Manolo Blahniks) all in one episode. The nods to Sex And The City always feel a bit shoehorned in and unsubtle, but it’s a very nice thing to do for the fans.
- I love that Sebastian’s big gesture to Carrie starts with a missed phone call, something that would likely not happen today due to the proliferation of cell phones and text messages.