HBO

Hannah Strikes A Blow On Behalf Of All Girls

But one of her literary heroes has another kind of blowing in mind.

I recommend getting your own HBO show if you can swing it. Because then you can type an extended polemical daydream into Final Draft, get a respected actor to play it out with you, and congratulate yourself on your shimmering social commentary.

Not that I'm saying this is what Lena Dunham has done with this episode, because the last thing I want is to be summoned to her apartment to give an accounting for myself. But what does happen is that Hannah has put up a blog post about a famous author and been summoned to his apartment to give an accounting for herself. And, it turns out, to demand one from the author in turn.

See, this Chuck Palmer character has been accused of pressuring multiple young women into sexual acts with him, and Hannah bemoaned this fact online, and now Palmer wants to tell Hannah his side of the story, face to face, just the two of them, at his home. Thus Hannah is forced to recognize that there's more to Chuck Palmer than just being a celebrated novelist and secret sleaze. He's also a concerned father, a frustrated ex-husband, a high-functioning OCD sufferer, a borderline shut-in, and celebrated novelist and secret sleaze.

Obviously this episode is going to spawn a tsunami of thinkpieces about sexuality and consent and power imbalance and the many ways Palmer forces Hannah to reexamine her assumed version of the narrative by making her an unwilling part of his version. People might argue that the successful but embattled Palmer responds to criticism by oversharing and then proving his critics' point, making him as autobiographical a Dunham character as Hannah is. But all we're interested in here is determining how typical this typically atypical episode of Girls is. Let's get to it.

Girls-y Element Present?
Shoshanna Flips Out
Shoshanna's not here. It's pretty much a bottle episode with Hannah and Palmer.
Jessa Is Shockingly Late And/Or Inappropriate
Nope. Bottle episode.
Adam Needs A Safe Word
Bottle episode!
Shut Up, Ray
BOTTLE EPISODE! We are out of sweet rolls!
Someone Bitches About Hannah In Her Absence
That would require there to be a scene in which Hannah does not appear.
Appearance Of One Or More Familiar Guest Actors
This is pretty much a two-actor play between Lena Dunham and Matthew Rhys as Chuck Palmer.
What The Eff Is Hannah Wearing
She shows up for the meeting dressed like a third-grade boy on picture day, but the lobby of Palmer's building intimidates her enough to apply some lipstick in the elevator.
Scene In A Bathroom In Which Someone Is Performing An Actual Bathroom Function
Hannah makes use of Palmer's facilities to toilet-paper away her nerve-sweats, but I suppose you could technically do that in any room.
Commentary On Modern Communications Technology/Techniques
The genesis of all this is that Hannah saw a Tumblr post by one of Palmer's accusers and wrote a blog entry about it, which Palmer has found through his Google Alert. There's also a reference to The Awl as, quote, "a website called The Awl," in the unlikely event that anybody who watches Girls doesn't know what The Awl is.
Hannah Has No Practical Job Skills
Palmer tells Hannah everything she's ever wanted to hear about how she's a sharp, intelligent, funny writer. Of course, he could be lying to get what he wants from her. We've been watching Hannah's life too long to simply take him at his word.
Hannah Takes a Backhanded Compliment As a Sincere One
Corollary to the above, here's a pro-tip for Hannah: if someone keeps telling you you're funny without ever laughing or even really smiling, they don't mean it.
Hannah Is Consciously Embarrassed
She's aware from start to finish about how bizarre this situation is. Which is pretty out of character for Hannah. But she still speaks her mind, which fortunately (for once) is not.
Hannah Probably Should Be Embarrassed But Isn't
See above.
Hannah Keeps Talking When Maybe She Should Stop
Most of what Hannah says needed saying, and in fact she admirably stands her ground. Again, very out of character.
Someone Gets Naked
Palmer gets Hannah to lower her guard by making her feel heard, by making her feel like a real writer, and by giving her his signed copy of her favorite Philip Roth book. So then she feels more or less obligated to lie down next to him when he politely invites her to do so. At this point, there is a cameo by Rhys's piece. What can Hannah do but take the situation in hand? Thus Palmer becomes the palm-ee. Even when Hannah belatedly leaps clear, he just sits up and smirks at her as he watches her figure out what he already knows and has known all along: the harasser always wins.
Conversation Interrupted By A "Surprise" Kiss
Even if you count wang-flopping as a kiss, which I don't, it's not really a surprise.
Hannah Blows Up A Current Or Potential Revenue Stream
Maybe Hannah could have tried to parlay this encounter into a position as some kind of assistant or apprentice to Palmer, but that's too gross even for her.
Hannah Is A Voice Of A Generation
Hannah makes a lot of strong, important arguments about consent and about how power imbalances can push interactions across the line into harassment or coercion. It's so confident and well thought-out that no way is it coming from Hannah instead of Dunham.
6 / 18
Final Score
33%
Girls
67%
Lena Dunham's book report on the David Mamet play Oleanna
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