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Belle of the Ball: An Advance Review of the First Four Episodes of "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" Season Two

Weeds' Nancy Botwin might get more press but the Showtime girl I can't get enough of is Belle.

That's right, the British drama Secret Diary of a Call Girl returns to Showtime on Sunday at 10:30 pm ET/PT for a second season of secrets, lies, clients, and, well romance.

Billie Piper (Doctor Who) returns as Hannah, a down-to-earth girl who works nights as a high-class call girl with the pseudonym of Belle du Jour. The only problem is that her family has no idea what she does for a living, a fact that Hannah goes to great lengths to maintain, including the use of two different phones, two different names, and two different halves of herself.

I had the opportunity to watch the first four episodes of Season Two, kicking off later this week, and immediately fell under Piper's spell once again. As in Season One, which aired last year on Showtime, Secret Diary of a Call Girl is darkly seductive, slick, and mordantly funny. While the subject matter is salacious, it's softened by the layers that Piper brings to the double role and the way that she effortlessly inhabits the different characters of Hannah and Belle, bringing different attributes to the fore depending on which mask our girl is wearing at the time. As Hannah, she's insecure, a bit needy, and prone to over-analyzing everything to death. As Belle, she's self-confident, tough as nails, and ready to tackle any obstacle, whether financial or sexual.

As if Hannah's life weren't already deeply tangled, a new batch of further complications arrives on the scene in the form of new protege Bambi (Ashley Madekwe), a newbie escort whom Belle has reluctantly taken under her wing and whose sole purpose in life seems to be to make Belle's tutelage as frustrating as possible. However, look for things to take a turn for the better between the two when Belle comes to her former charge's rescue in Episode Two; further episodes deepen Bambi's character and make her more of a tragic figure than the self-absorbed, catty, and chavvy mess she seems initially.

And if Bambi wasn't enough to handle, Hannah finds herself enmeshed in a political sex scandal, at war with her sister during her nephew's christening, dealing with the jealous wife of a client who pays her for the Full Girlfriend Experience, and falling for a man who's not a client. That man would happen to be Alex (Callum Blue of Dead Like Me and The Tudors), a doctor newly transplanted to London with whom she meets cute in a style, uh, never quite seen a romantic comedy.

Blue is a fantastic addition to the series and his blend of charm and charisma proves a powerful aphrodisiac that Hannah finds hard to avoid as Alex provides a stability that Hannah desperately craves and fears. Blue seems tailor-made for this role and adds an additional layer of romantic depth to the series. Likewise, the other main cast addition, Madekwe, brings humor and unpredictability in the form of Bambi, who gives Belle the opportunity to become a tutor that Hannah never had when she got involved in the game.

While Alex seems like Hannah's main love interest for now, things aren't exactly settled with Hannah's former boyfriend/best friend Ben (Iddo Goldberg), who is preparing to marry girlfriend Vanessa. Look for some trouble to emerge in Episode Four when Hannah decides to introduce Alex to her longtime friend... and for her to make a shocking declaration to one of the men in her life.

Along the way, there's a hell of a lot of naughty behavior, even naughtier clients, and some dark laughs that serve to remind us why Secret Diary of a Call Girl is the perfect Showtime comedy. And there's nothing secret about that.

Season Two of Secret Diary of a Call Girl launches Sunday, January 18th, at 10:30 pm ET/PT on Showtime.


ProgGrrl said…
My pal in the UK was kind enough to send me the entire run this summer when it first aired there; I can tell you that fans of S1 will be mighty pleased. And moved.
Anonymous said…
I remember watching the first couple episodes of this show and thought it was kind of fun and different and now, several episodes, later, I am completely hooked. Billie Piper is perfect in the lead role and I'm really excited to see that Callum Blue will be joining the cast for the second season.

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