Fans of HBO's Girls were not disappointed in Sunday night's episode called, “American B-tch,” which dealt with sex, consent, and how to grapple with power between the sexes. In this provocative Season 6 jaw-dropper, Hannah is called to meet with a famous novelist after she writes a scathing article about him and his sexual conquests on his book tour. The Daily Beast explains the set up of the episode: [Spoiler alert!]
The episode finds Dunham’s Hannah Horvath going to the palatial apartment of famous author Chuck Palmer, played by Rhys. Hannah had written a piece for a Jezebel-esque feminist website surfacing stories from several college women claiming that Palmer used his power and influence to sleep with them on his book tour. When Hannah wonders whether all those encounters were consensual... They spend the episode discussing the nuances of consent and privilege. He thinks the women were seducing him so that they would have “a story” to tell. She thinks they were too intimidated by his celebrity to say no. He vents about the state of the world, in which his life can be destroyed by girls posting about sex with him on “something called Tumblr, without an e.”
The conversation was quite interesting and measured, but things take a turn for the worse when the famous author asks Hannah to come to bed with him. They are clothed, in order to maintain any boundaries Hannah wants to maintain. He just wanted to be close to her, he explained, after making an effort to get to know her for her brains and talent instead of mere sex.
In a very surprising move, Palmer (played brilliantly and creepily by Matthew Rhys) flops out his penis and puts it on Hannah's leg. (It was a prosthetic, according to the director.) This causes Hannah even more existential angst as she contemplates the nature of sex and consent, especially when a famous novelist uses his fame to seduce a wannabe writer. Which is all very very interesting; however, it would be much much easier to deal with Lena Dunham's contemplation on making sure women aren't taken advantage by men in high places if she had gone a little higher in the power structure than a novelist-with-a-nice-apartment.
When Lena was going around campaigning for Hillary Clinton, she was also campaigning for Bill Clinton to be put right back in the White House. As you might remember, over a dozen women have accused the former President of sexual misconduct ranging from groping to rape (and don't forget he actually settled a sexually harassment with Paula Jones.) To make matters worse, these women also claim that Hillary strategically "slut-shamed" them out of the cultural conversation.
The premise of this provocative episode of Girls -- that sex, power, and rape are ripe for conversation and cultural improvement - is a good one. If only Lena Dunham would have the guts to speak out against the real sexual predators and their enablers instead of trying to usher them into the White House.