Harry Potter Has An Inexpensive Outlet for His Sexuality
by Eleanor Morrow
Secret Diary of a Call Girl
creator Lucy Prebble
Being a star in England is sort of like being a mobster in New Jersey - your influence ranges far and wide, but it ends at the Holland Tunnel. In the case of Billie Piper, that notoriety takes her as far as the Chunnel.
Yet the one-time pop singer chose a fairly gratifying career trajectory. Once she began acting in earnest she starred in the remake of the long-running science fiction program Doctor Who. The only thing more baffling than people enjoying Doctor Who was the inexplicable popularity in the same quarters of Heroes.
Then she went from scifi babe to taking her clothes off every week on Showtime. It would be like if the telepath from Star Trek: The Next Generation did DVDA. (Did she?)
The show in question is Secret Diary of a Call Girl. It airs on Showtime in "The States" as Europeans term our country, because otherwise no one would be able to understand their pronunciation of United. Sorry! I think the wounds from the whole taxation without representation thing are still a bit raw.
Nevertheless, this is an export that is much appreciated. Belle/Hannah is a lady of the night. She used to have a very well-mannered female pimp who still calls her from time to time. She also keeps a journal, which I can't think is a good idea for any reason. In one episode, she was even approached by a reporter -- as if not cooperating with one would actually bury the story of her banging a married politician! Things are so much chiller in London -- the weather, for example.
Then she struck out on her own, and through the course of the show she's gotten herself into plenty of sticky situations. Although you never get to see whatever it is that comes out of men's penises when they're excited, you do get to see quite a bit of Billie Piper. She reminds me of your too promiscuous college roommate, or she reminds you of your mother. Neither is a flattering comparison.
As with any person's naked self, this begins to grow a bit boring after awhile. Belle is always sexing herself up in some new way. She really makes sex for money a colorful affair, kind of like a detective getting all the interesting cases. And yet, the rest of the time, she's seemingly normal, usually crowing about just how normal she is except for her job.
Then she meets Alex. She introduces herself to him in a hotel bar thinking that he is a trick she's supposed to bang. Her forward-thinking approach works well on the young doctor, before she opens the envelope of cash he's given her and realizes its his passport and identification for a job interview.
He asks her for her number, and she relents. They have an awkward first date and before long they are a regular couple. The handsome young doc and his Belle. Soon enough, it begins to haunt her. She must tell him. She must tell him. She must tell him.
In the season's climactic moment, Alex walked in on her having sex with a paraplegic. Instead of recognizing the nobility of finding your girlfriend engaged in such an act, he freaked out a lot. He calls Belle a whore, as if she had been unaware of what she was. He is disgusted by her.
I'm not sure I could ever be reconciled to a person who behaves like Alex did, and I'm sure Belle should know better. Worse than being a prostitute it seems, is disapproving of them. It's a one-two punch that might not make these two the perfect couple, but hey, they're trying.
Eleanor Morrow is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. She last wrote in these pages about another Showtime series, The United States of Tara.
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