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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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The Carrie Diaries

CW, Jan. 14, 8 p.m. ET/PT |


A teenage prequel to Sex and the City sounds inspired-maybe Clueless in Manhattan, with Carrie Bradshaw and the gang wobbling down the cobbled streets of Soho in platform shoes. Instead Diaries is lukewarm and earnest, like a Molly Ringwald movie that went straight to VHS. We’re in 1984, the age of Culture Club and Dynasty, and Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) is a suburban girl in mourning. Her mother has died, leaving behind a large closet filled with fabulous dresses and accessories. Soon Carrie is spending time in Manhattan as a legal intern, but-having inherited her mother’s sense of style—she’s also accepted in the clubs and gets to run around with fashionistas from Interview. Robb, who suggests Lindsay Lohan long before she played Liz Taylor, makes Carrie a nice, sensitive girl, but with none of the touchingly naive yearning that made the original such a romantic touchstone. This Carrie will never be Sarah Jessica Parker. Or even Molly Ringwald.


HBO, Jan. 13, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Writer-director-actress Lena Dunham, it turns out, isn’t perfect. If the first season of Girls showed Dunham’s remarkable ear for dialogue and acute sense of character, her work on these new episodes is initially clumsy and oddly hollow. She’s plotting out the logistics of broken relationships and new roomie assignments in Williamsburg, her Brooklyn playground of the hip, and the strain shows. Donald Glover, for instance, shows up as Dunham’s latest boyfriend. A black conservative, he’s around just long enough to endure Daily Show zingers about Republicans and Ayn Rand. It’s a disposable role. In the fourth episode, however, a string of hilarious social disasters and painfully intimate confessions surpasses anything in season 1. Fans will sigh in relief: Girls can still be Girls.

Real Husbands of Hollywood

BET, Jan. 15, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Billing itself as “the fakest reality show ever,” Husbands is less a parody of the Bravo programming staple than a springboard off which hot comedian Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) can bounce any gag that crosses his mind. Some hit the pool, some land on the concrete, but viewers won’t care: The show is a loose, unambitious goof. At a backyard party, Hart introduces his costars, including the always terrific J.B. Smoove, Nick Cannon and Boris Kodjoe. Buddy Duane Martin shows off a six-piece suit of his own design-the legs and arms tear away to produce preposterous informal wear-and Hart picks a fight with a teenage caterer. The real joke is that this is probably no faker than most other reality shows.