Billepiper_secretdiaryofacallgirl_3 Once my parents visited me in Los Angeles, where you can never ever be too casual in your attire, from Washington DC. A few days into their stay we were driving down Sunset Blvd. and my mother commented, "That’s the first woman I’ve seen in a suit" as a slinky blonde passed in front of the car at a light wearing tailored black slacks and a jacket nipped in at the waist over a silk blouse at three in the afternoon.

"That’s because she’s an escort," I replied.

So I was pleased to note during the first two minutes of Showtime’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl that this is the case in London as well. Right after identifying herself as "I’m a whore," our heroine Belle du Jour (Billie Piper) informs us in this day-and-age of toddlers and grandmothers alike sporting belly-baring tees, that if you want to spot a prostitute you should "look for the woman in a designer suit."

[Note: For there to be spoilers, something would actually have to happen on this show. However, if you have delicate sensibilities, you might want to stop reading now.]

Of course, Belle du Jour is her professional moniker. Her real name is Hannah and she wants to get it out in the opening from the beginning that she wasn’t abused as a child, has no children and has never been addicted to drugs. Rather, "loves sex, loves money and is fundamentally lazy" and that’s what’s led her to a life of prostitution.

That’s all well and good, but just because I love napping and love food, it doesn’t necessarily mean I should ever try combining both at the same time.

Belle/Hannah also has a pimp (or "agent") and several hard and fast rules, including getting paid upfront, maintain control, safety first and good hygiene all around. None of this is earth-shattering information, although I’m sure many a woman sleeping with someone they shouldn’t be can learn from the "always use men’s deodorant, no perfume" edict.

However, the rule that takes precedence over all others is, "Work out what the client wants as fast as you can and give it to him."

Exhibit A: John #1, a rather nondescript 50-something chap who Belle quickly determines has a deep-seated fantasy involving stables and stallions.

Much like Sydney during the first couple of seasons of Alias, Hannah must keep her family and friends in the dark about what she does for a living, so she tells them that she’s a legal secretary for a large firm that often has to work on last-minute contracts at night in order to meet international deadlines. Considering I almost fell asleep typing that sentence, I would say it’s a pretty effective cover.

We don’t meet any of Hannah’s family in the first episode, but do meet her best friend/ex-boyfriend Ben in a rather time-wasting scene that shows them playing Spoiled Little Rich Girl, a game involving the two of them getting a realtor to show them around a posh estate.

Back to work, Belle is all glammed up and sitting at a bar in the middle of the day. She breaks it down for us and who her new client will be: "Nice hotel — not big enough for an Arab, not expensive enough for an American, not trendy enough for a young professional. He’ll be over 50, long-term married. First time with an escort, so I’m guessing he’ll be newly retired which has led to a drop in self esteem and a need to feel powerful and special … This is why I’m good at my job."

So who should show up but Daniel, a young guy in a t-shirt and blazer who can’t perform, no matter Belle’s fellatio skills.

Come to think of it, that was probably the reason for the previous house-touring scene. Then, Hannah was the correct guesser as to who the house belonged to which was probably meant to show us that she’s usually right.

"That’s extraordinarily nice of you," Daniel says in response to Belle’s display of self-gratification in from of him. He then jumps up, gets dressed and offers her the use of the hotel room for the rest of the night since it’s already paid up.

Thrown for a loop, Belle pumps her agent Rachel for details. Seems Daniel has set up another appointment but with a different girl. Instead of the studied pro he wants more of a girl next door.

Belle pulls a favor and gets another shot at Daniel. She meets him in her apartment wearing jeans and minimal makeup and proceeds to break all her own hygiene and safety rules. In a moment of post-coital bliss she even lets her real name slip.

Then there’s a bit where Hannah moodily rolls around alone on her bed, fidgets with her boy shorts, smokes a cigarette and basically channels a modern-day Brigitte Bardot.

Now enchanted with Hannah, Daniel wants to see her again. Belle has other ideas though. She tells her agent to give him someone else while writing in her journal "DANGER … Wants Hannah, not Belle."

If that wasn’t blatantly obvious enough, the episode ends following the Doogie Howser/Sex and the City formula with Belle summing up the lesson we were supposed to learn via a voice-over narration.

"Sometimes it’s not the youngest or the richest clients that you want, or the ones you have the most in common with. For me the perfect partner is one where I never have to be myself."

Did you miss that? If so, the image of her putting a saddle on John #1 and riding him around on her bed should sum it up nicely for you as well.

What did you think? A frothy, summer confection or was there no there there?

Posted by:Brill Bundy

Brill Bundy has spent her entire career covering TV and pop culture. This is what happens when your parents try and limit your viewing habits to three shows a week. Likes: seasons with no more than 13 episodes, anti-heroes and binge-watching. Dislikes: when cartoon characters make out, when TV shows name check their titles, drawn out premieres and finales. TV words to live by: "If every porkchop was perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs."