20 Questions About ‘Girls’ Season 6, Episode 3

Mattie Kahn | February 27, 2017

GIRLS-Season-6-Episode-3-Man-Repeller-Feature

How do men intimidate? Let me count the ways.

They parade photos of themselves with powerful people, women even, because they’re not sexists. They invite you in, you and your little red tote bag up against the big, bad wolf. They profess bewilderment; how could this happen — and to them! They flash insecurities, but just enough to make you feel special, not so much that the power balance tips. And they believe themselves better than you believe your own words, your own worth, tricking you into believing them, too.

Some questions have too many answers, but here are 20 things I wondered about Girls’ latest brilliant bottle episode, anyway.

1. Hannah looks nice in pre-war, doesn’t she?

2. Is Hannah’s striped shirt cotton, silk or polyester? I’d be super concerned about sweat stains.

3. Does this mean Toni Morrison was, like, “Sure, I’ll do a cameo”?

4. What could Hannah write that would matter more than an examination into whether a man in power abused his influence?

5. Question I do not want the answer to: “What do you call a blowjob with handlebars?”

6. Is it ever appropriate to take a personal call during a professional encounter? Has that ever happened to you? Guess what! It did to me, during a meeting with a very fancy (male) writer. What are the chances? (High!)

7. When did Hannah get into track pants?

8. Okay, don’t we all very clearly know who the witch is? It’s Casey Affleck, isn’t it?

9. “Why me?”

10. A quick break in regular scheduled programming to offer this critical correction on popular lore. It was Hillel the Elder who coined the phrase, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Thank you for your time. Maybe read this?

11. Is he seriously drinking from an I “heart” Chuck mug? Yes, he is.

12. Has Hannah ever been this eloquent, given this much space to another woman’s experiences, been this considered, this brave?

13. Has anyone ever asked you to read their own work aloud to them?

14. What is this bizarro seduction ritual?

15. When the music starts to trill, and Chuck and Hannah sit, legs folded, on the couch, who else felt her heart break a little? Come on, Hannah.

16. When Chuck Palmer tells Hannah Horvath that “people will know some stuff about you,” or they’ll “think they do,” is he talking about himself, her or Lena Dunham?

17. Did you realize the episode was headed in this direction before I did? What tipped you off?

18. Could anyone have played Chuck Palmer with more depth, nuance, malevolence or insistence than Matthew Rhys?

19. All those women in their kicky summer skirts; Rihanna blaring behind them — does anyone else feel slightly ill?

20. Is this Girls’s most self-aware episode ever?

Follow our Girls girl and author Mattie on Twitter @mattiekahn. Photo via HBO.

  • katie48

    JUST finished this episode. It basically mapped how these uneven power dynamics interactions work. Could she have said no to going to his apt? Not really. He told her she was funny, clever, smart, talented, pretty. He gave her the Roth book. He made her feel seen, and then pulled out his dick. She chose to grab it, but she did not consent to its placement, though.

    The bit with the daughter was pretty great – showing that a good dad and a manipulative man can occupy the same person….which is the whole dynamic of the last seen.

    • Babbling Bee

      But was it a power imbalance though? Genuinely asking? it was not a date, she was actually going to sort of grill him and teach him a lesson. But then she started believing he was her friend, forgetting the actual reason she got there. The guy is a “perv artist” but I think she should have known better at least to stay focused and indict him til the end.

      • katie48

        Rich/poor, famous/not famous, successful/notsuccessful, knows Toni Morrison/doesn’t know Toni Morrison.

        Ah yes, she should have “known better.” The whole episode mapped how power imbalance and deliberate manipulation can erase the “should have known better” defense women are constantly expected to maintain 24/7.

        • Elisa

          Word.

        • Paula Rodio

          Agreed.

      • Laura

        Yeah, but I think their conversation about black and white and grey areas probably made her rethink dropping her guard, too. Like katie48 mentions below the “Should have known better” defenses – Hannah didn’t even want to relinquish her red bag to him. Putting down the bag would have signaled that she would stick around a while – putting her guard down. Taking her shoes off was a manipulation to get her to relax – where can you go without your shoes? A barrier to getting out of their quickly. He wore her down bit by bit even though at first she seemed to have had ideas of boundaries she had set for herself going in – maybe telling herself she would only stay a while.

        • Babbling Bee

          I ask people to remove their shoes all the time in my house, no manipulation here. I think the shoes touching the suede boots was the telling clue of his ‘quirks” but then, I guess that is part of the charm and mystery of successful authors so who would block on that?
          I think the turning point was the call he took from his ex-wife that introduced a peek into his personal life and made him more human (?) even though Hannah did point out that this could be seen as inappropriate ( and the question of boundaries).
          I guess my point is she should have kept the conversation on the intellectual level, accepting the invitation to lay with him was giving up her power. It would have been best if she had stood above him, the same way she positioned herself in her online post, make him feel uncomfortable and out of place and forcing the conversation back into the “public/common” space i.e the living room/kitchen.
          I mean all this is after the fact, but you can see how the move from living room-kitchen-bedroom parallels the weakening of her resolve and the ultimate loss of her argument/integrity.
          I really liked this episode.

  • I.N b

    just saw it again, did anyone noticed his paintings? he has paintings of his own house, i thought it was an amazing detail

    • yes, i loved that

    • Aydan

      the library room painting! So interesting.

      • Claire Bruno

        I thought it was a fascinating detail but I couldn’t help but notice that the paintings looked like they were done with that app that converts iphone pictures into “paintings.” Different styles and everything. However, I would love to have a painting of my library in my living room and vice versa. Very smart.

        • I swear I didn’t miss the point of the episode, and call it a professional deformation, but I couldn’t help but wonder if these were just photoshopped with an “Oil Paint” filter 🙂

    • Kelsey Moody

      Beautiful house, beautiful paintings and beautiful little hidden Lena Dunham messages throughout to hint at what kinda guy he truly is/Lena wants us to question who he is– Woody Allen painting and beloved personalized signed Philip Roth book in his bedroom collection– famous brilliant men in their fields: arguably sexist at best, sex offenders at worst?

      • Jus Grace

        Yes! I knew the Woody Allen painting had significance, since Lena has spoken out about him

  • Mariana

    I loved the writing in this episode, the calm tone and the talk over the action vibe. But I was kind of shocked with the twist in the ending, I know it was to make a point, but I’m naive and I secretly want to have an happy ending :p

  • Ally

    I appreciated this episode. My boyfriend secretly enjoys watching Girls with me – though he pretends to turn it on for me out of thoughtfulness, I know he finds it funny (and may even care about the story line a bit) but would rather not discuss it out loud. I’m cool with that.

    Anyways after this episode he actually looked uncomfortable and disappointed. “So that guy was actually a perv? What the hell was that?” “yeah” I said, “so much so that he’s basically convinced himself that its normal.”

    Most of us have had situations similar to what Hannah described about her old teacher, and my boyfriend is fully aware of my situation(s) (one in particular being the most traumatizing and insane) with an experience like this. He is understanding BUT like most guys he is also kind of aloof to how it really feels since many men that I know haven’t experienced something similar… or at least don’t talk about it.

    So it weirdly felt good to see my boyfriend’s reaction to this even though IMO he’s the nicest guy on the planet. He was expecting it to be funny and entertain him for 30 minutes but instead it just made him feel uncomfortable and confused – which is what these situations feel like for women when they occur. Kind of ironic!

    I thought the way this episode was written was really brilliant in that sense.

    • Kattigans

      My boyfriend watched with me too and unlike your boyfriend he verbalizes how weird and awful he thinks Lena Dunham is. I don’t agree with him, but I can understand how she turns people off. However, I really liked this episode and thought it was subtly brilliant. It was uncomfortable at times and I too wanted to believe Chuck Palmer was the good guy. His story did pan out until he asks Hannah to lay down and then I knew. Because how many of us have been in this situation before? Probably more of us than we can even admit or perhaps realize.
      My boyfriend though didn’t really get it and of course like most men, he can understand traumatizing experiences women go through, but makes a point to separate himself from “those types of guys”. It was interesting watching the episode juxtaposed to his reactions.

      • freudianslippers

        Ditto – my boyfriend watched it after I did and had a similar reaction to not really understanding the nuance between “terrible rapist” and “good guy”.

        • Kattigans

          I know and it’s hard for me, as I’m sure it is for most women, to even break it down for him or any guy. I want him to “understand”. I want him to see what I see and for it to make sense. And in some ways it does and it doesn’t because his experience thus far is so completely different than mine and most other women. As one commenter said below, women spend their lives “being socialized to be grateful, helpful and yielding to men”. It’s hard to break away from that and then when you find yourself in a position like Hannah you ask “how did I let this happen? Aren’t I smarter than that? Don’t have more ‘self-respect’ than that?” Its extremely weird and bizarre thing to go through and in the end a lot of what it comes down to is not wanting to be seen as the “bitch” even though you owe no one anything. My boyfriend even made a comment saying that of course Lena Dunham would write Chuck Palmer’s character to pull out his penis after proving how he’s not a bad person and that’s because she wants to paint all men like that. This just seriously baffled me. Its like this guy is not a good guy. He the man that we all know. The one who victimizes himself and cannot get past seeing women as people. He’s doing their sad selves a favor by even paying attention to them because after all they’re all just clamoring to be with him. It was interesting how my boyfriend wasn’t able to see the nuance and the subtly of the episode and its message.

          • freudianslippers

            You know, it’s reassuring to hear that other people struggle with these conversations in their relationships. And my partner has a really different perspective in part because he’s a black man who was taught at an early age to NEVER get himself into any situation where he could be accused of ANYTHING – and that’s something that, as a white girl, I’d never really thought about, this history of (white) women using accusations as a weapon against black men. So that’s something I’m cognizant of. But I agree, it’s really hard to explain the nuance, or the socialization that we go through, or the internal drive to just “be nice” and how so many of us could end up in Hannah’s situation. It sucks watching someone you love judge that.

          • Kattigans

            That makes complete sense and its a very interesting perspective. I’ve heard that from several men of color I know. It more so had to do with crime in general rather than just specifically sexual assault.

            For me, I try to separate who I know my boyfriend is as a person and what he’s been conditioned to think like given what male culture is like. Sometimes as my mom says, its hard to see past your own nose. It isn’t easy, but to keep me sane and not take out all my anger about the patriarchy on him I have to do this. I’m glad I could share my perspective. These conversations, with men and women alike, are not easy subjects to broach.

          • Elisa

            Thank you both for these thoughts. My husband’s response was just “that was a weird episode”, and when I tried to explain that very unique awful power structure/social dynamic, he didn’t really get it. But I’m glad other people felt it too. God, when he asked to read something to her and you could see her just melt w the flattery/vulnerability, and when he used a woman’s scars as a poetic device….I gagged.

          • Laura

            My husband loves watching “Girls” – he looks forward to it every week. He was disappointed that the episode didn’t focus on all the characters and their disfunction, but he totally got the use of power/social dynamic to manipulate. He actually was the one that pointed out in the last scene that the girls walking by Hannah were probably all the girls he did or would seduce. My husband loves watching Amy Schumer, too (he actually introduced me to her) – that’s where I sometimes have to explain to him what she’s making a commentary on.

  • AlrightArightAlright

    Brilliantttttttt. I can’t wait to watch it again.

  • Babbling Bee

    When he said to lay down on the bed, that was it! She should have known. She comes to the apt of a guy she believes is a predator and is ok relaxing her boundaries around him, going to his room, etc… Did he trick her or was she herself trying to create the “story”? Maybe I am a formal person and I don’t get familiar with people just because I think I know about them based on books and what some other people said about them. The guy is a sleaze, he admits and is not trying to hide but he does point out that all these women, Hannah included, respond to the invitation and enjoy the attention; there is surprise, amusement/grossness but no coercion. They can walk away at any time. Even when she had the opportunity to leave, Hannad still didn’t. I think to me this is the interesting part: why don’t we walk away in the face of danger (physical and self-estime wise)?

    • Babbling Bee

      May I add, he said “I want to feel close to somebody” while inviting her to lay on the bed. Ladies, when was last time a man said that to you? If it was Jesus, it doesn’t count. I really thought she wanted to sleep with him. It wouldn’t be the first time Hannah wanders into the house of a older man with commitment issues (current/ex-wife) and then observe their interior with some type of envy and end up spending the night. I actually laughed when he took out his d*ck, classic!
      I think in the end, he tried to show her that even with the rumor and her own experience, she still wouldn’t know who he really is between the writer, sleazy guy and the dad. Some type of writer/author masterclass lesson, I suppose. She just learned texture.

      She should have channeled her inner Hannah i.e. be a self-centered bitch; probably sleep with him and slap him for the other girls, demanding things and stuff. He would have probably liked it too (perverts are very flexible unfortunately) and that would have rewarded him anyway, as a writer or a man. You can’t teach people like that, you can only take yours. He does.

      • Jus Grace

        This is victim blaming. You’re not paying attention to the power imbalance leading up to it.

        I think we’d all like to believe that we’d refuse to lay next to him, but who actually knows what would happen when faced with the situation?

        Before she goes on to the bed, she looks down at the signed book she had just been given. This is in addition to an afternoon of him telling her how smart and funny she was, “you’re not like the other writers”.

        All of this coming from someone with so much respect in an industry he knew Hannah was trying to break into, is master manipulation, and even he knew it.

        • Babble Bee

          This is not about victim blaming. This guy is no Cosby, and Hannah actually went to his house to confront him about this issue and then gave up on her own objective in the face of flattery and acceptance.
          I’d like to believe that none of us would go to Cosby’s house and accept a drink there. Understanding how young women put themselves in danger doesn’t mean absolving predators of their own responsibility. Both can coexist and people can learn from it. I think this is the intellectual grey area that is difficult for people to cope with and Hannah just learned that. She too was looking for the same thing the other “consenting” victims were but Hannah should have been smarter because she positioned herself as the “voice” of these women. So I think she is actually worse. If she had followed her own voice, she would have known he would do the same thing to her since this is his pattern. I guess she wasn’t sure about it, but then it didn’t stop her from writing about him on the internet. It is a complex thing.

          • Jus Grace

            You say you’re not victim blaming, but then continue to do exactly that.

          • Jus Grace

            Also, I believe the choice to have Hannah briefly fall into his trap is to highlight the fact that she is, in fact, not “smarter” or “better” than any of the other women who had fallen prey to him before.

            It showed how easy it is to fall into a trap under such a power imbalance, and how quick men like him are willing to exploit it.

            Whether or not any of us would choose to “go to Cosby’s house” (as you put it) or not, doesn’t in any way remove us of the right to autonomy.

          • Babbling Bee

            You can call it that, I simply responsibility on both sides. However I am not saying they have the same level of responsibility. I don’t think Hannah is a victim here and there is no power imbalance.

  • Anna Praxitelous

    Brilliant episode!! it still shocks me that there are people that get into all this trouble i.e. inviting you to their house, spend their time tryong to impress you, sharing their stories making you feel special just to make a point (out of spike?!). I didnt expect the ending. I am not sure whether Hannah was herself shocked or dissapointed that she fell into the trap..or probably a mixture of the two.

  • emily

    so so good. it showed so clearly how shocked hannah was to discover that rape culture is already inside her mind from a lifetime of being socialized to be grateful, helpful and yielding to men- even modern, sexually empowered hannah. so powerful and so hidden (to her) is this conditioning that even though she already condemned this exact same guy for doing exactly this, she is unable to refuse consent, and chuck palmer knowingly exploited this. he knew this was in her head, and she didn’t- in this sense he owned her consent before he even knew her name. this is how rape culture defeats even the idea of consent by teaching women to override their own objections before they voice them.

    • Ciccollina

      “this is how rape culture defeats even the idea of consent by teaching women to override their own objections before they voice them.”

      THIS.

  • freudianslippers

    The weirdest thing to come out of this was the conversation I had with my boyfriend after we both (separately) watched it. He was playing the “rape accusations ruin people’s lives” card, and I realized something (AFTER I angrily said it to him. I was like, “You guys, men, are not afraid of being FALSELY ACCUSED of rape. You’re not afraid that some girl is going to completely make something up. You’re afraid you’re going to do something wrong, or cross a line, and get called out on it. You’re afraid you’re going to violate someone’s boundaries and they’re going to point it out, and you won’t be able to fully defend yourselves, because you’ll know you did something wrong. And you’re afraid of it because you all cross those lines ALL THE TIME”.
    And then I was like… oh, damn.

    • Grace

      THAT’S IT!!! I’ve spent so much time pondering this exact topic and your comment is the light bulb going off that finally explains what, exactly, is wrong.

    • Kattigans

      This is so interesting! And very very weird coincidence, but a guy I went to college with posted screenshots of a tinder conversation his friend had with a guy who by chance went to college with us. This tinder guy, lets call him Bob, got so upset with this girl because she didn’t respond to him. He went as far as to text her racists l and sexist slurs. The guy who posted the screenshots of the convo and called this guy out which I applaud (but have some separate thoughts on) needless to say girls after girls started writing in on the comments that they had had similar experiences about this tinder guy. Even after all of these other women confirmed that this guy was in fact a creep other people in the comments STILL defended the guy saying that this post was going to ruin his life and its not fair to him for the internet to be on a massive witch hunt and how are can we judge someone passed off one or a few instances? It was mind blowing! Like here’s the evidence! Here’s the proof that this man is a terrible, terrible person. A person yes with a life, but he is NOT a victim.

  • dietcokehead

    Hannah met her match for real. Flip it around, imagine her taking her vagina out after begging someone to lie down with her. SHE WOULD SO DO THIS. But I loved the nuance of the way they dealt with the topic for most of the episode. Very end was weak though. I want to know how she exited that situation, ok?!?

    • Grace B

      I know, I was like uh, maaaaybe this should be her new boyfriend!?

    • Babbling Bee

      I thought so too. They would be great together, bait and switching on each other while writing self-involved garbage. LOL

  • Gracie

    I loved this episode so much. As soon as she arrived at the apartment, I assumed that she was going to end up sleeping with him, and have an horrible and embarrassing sexual experience, as often happens to Hannah. However, the brilliance in this episode lay in the fact that CHUCK PALMER TRICKED ME. I didn’t know that it was going to happen until he asked her to lay on the bed with him. I was sort of horrified that I was also tricked by this asshole. Awesome episode.

    • Serena

      This is what makes it brilliant. We, the viewers, are complicit in the trickery…

  • Kelsey Moody

    17) Woody Allen painting on his wall in his library
    19) All those women, blurred, and increasing in number, walking towards/into his building– faceless masses of countless women who have had this “bullshit grey area” experience in their lives, a very #yesallwomen moment

    • EVJ

      Yes and yes. Best, most nuanced episode ever. Everything, including the totally creepy “I have been that woman.” feeling throughout hit way too close to home for me.

      We are conditioned to be complacent to begin with but then to throw the fame and power of the super entitled into the mix, as our short fingered barbarian/vulgarian of a president knows, who view it not as power and sexual exploitation but their due right for being their fabulous selves, can leave even the most self aware of us amazed at out own behavior. Been there done that. I am one of those hordes of woman walking through that door at the end. Sad, knowing and all too true. Lena knows her way around fame. This episode should be a primer for anyone dealing with power.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    i think this was my favourite girls episode to date. i was totally gobsmacked by the end of it. there was this wave of realization/amazement that washed over me, like the one you feel after a particularly good twist at the end of a horror movie. except unlike a horror movie, the interaction between hannah and chuck was nothing out of the ordinary or fantastical, but something that every girl will recognize as being so normal, so realistic. and that made everything 100x scarier.

  • Andy

    i don’t like the Hannah only episodes – it feels like they lack something. Also it was a kind of mirror to an episode a few seasons ago (a Hannah only ep) when she hooks up with that guy who’s older in the really nice townhouse..

    • Ana Tavares

      I think this episode went to show how much Hannah has grown as a person. The “old” Hannah would probably have slept with him, regardless of what she wrote about him. This is a saner version of the character, despite all her flaws.

  • Mariana

    Was I the only one that, for a slightest moment thought, in that beautiful ending scene where his daughter was playing the flute and Hannah was appreciating the situation, that he could be molesting is child?

    • Babbling Bee

      I didn’t get any of that at all. His daughter obviously is not scared of him and based on his conversation with his ex, he tries to be a present and caring dad.

      • Mariana

        I know, but it could be something like Estocolm Sindrome, you know? That thought was in my mind for a second when he was delightfully looking at her, but hey, since it is Girls, I was vigilante of weird signals and I overthink it.

    • freudianslippers

      No, but I did think about how he was talking about how his daughter was depressed and that maybe she’s depressed because her Dad is a piece of sh*t…

    • Laura

      During that scene, I was thinking about their conversation regarding black and white and grey areas. I was also thinking about how men like this will trick you because they show sh*tty side, then an admirable side, then a sh*tty side, and so on and so forth. So manipulating you might be easier when you want to believe your hero is a great person.

  • Ola

    It was a great episode and that’s a great piece!

  • It was pretty obvious when he called her to lie on the bed, and especially when she pressed that book he previousy let her have, close to her chest. He won her over with it and she probably felt like she owed him something. Classic asshole move. 🙂

  • starryhye

    Oh man, I just knew something creepy was going to happen. I knew it the second Hannah walked into that apartment. This is “Girls” after all. My question (or issue) is: after all that conversation, the newly formed appearance of friendship, wouldn’t a person freak the eff OUT on someone who just pulled their wiener out!?! Grrr

  • Andrea Urdaneta

    I’m still trying to get used to this new, more mature side of Hannah, but I liked how she handled herself in (most of) this week’s episode.
    I think it’s really important that the show is shining a light on the subject of abuse: an assault is not only being jumped on the street by a stranger. There are many types of abuse and aggression, and they come in many forms. A person that uses their “power” in any way to bend the will of somebody else against their consent is being abusive, and this can still have a lot of painful effects on the individual suffering from their actions. Awareness is key to avoid this, so thank you, Lena.

    And anyway, since some girls here asked me to post this week’s #weeklyHannah, here it is 🙂

    (You can see them all here: instagram.com/andie_draws)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/129cbd10bc8faf8ac5ff03aaee60b54136ba580790ffec066215a9fa79163480.jpg

  • Lacey Bergevin

    I’m so happy that this discussion exists so that I can play out all of the thoughts in my head. I am also SO glad that they didn’t finish up that sniffing scene in the bathroom – ewwwww – she was clearly toying with the idea that something sexual might happen with him if she is worried about body odor

  • Anna Herman

    I don’t think I get it. Does anyone consider Hannah a “victim” in this scenario? Chuck wants to sleep with her so he compliments her and tries to impress her. Sure, it’s sad that he’s that lonely, but I don’t see how this is evil or predatory.

  • gisele2015

    I wait for the episodes as much as for this column. I will miss both.

  • Alessia

    the song “desperado” is ruined forever for me. sigh

  • Maria Browne

    I liked how on the way in she was checking how she looked and putting on lipstick and then we find out she is going to confront this alleged sexual predator. I think it encapsulates the mixed messages and confusion of the whole dynamic between men and women and especially the dynamic when dealing with powerful men. To some degree (and I don’t just mean in a sexual sense) I think everyone, even less successful men, tend to edit themselves and give successful men a lot of space to speak and behave in ways that would simply not be accepted from anyone else and this just extends to the realm of sexual behavior as well.

    • Babbling Bee

      Or she wasn’t checking how she looked for him, rather to look put together which would make her look more assertive and powerful. Women don’t just want to look nice to please sexually, but also to send a message. Just like men wear suits and appear more professional and smarter all of a sudden. Lipstick is kinda an adult face for women, not just sexy but also your business face. She knew it was some sort of business meeting going there; it sadly degenerated later on.

  • disqus_EVSZH6sa1b

    No journalist (or any professional) would go to an alleged sexual predator’s apartment by themselves. End of story. They would bring a colleague or meet in a more neutral, populated space. And it’s unprofessional to lay down in bed with someone you’re interviewing.

    Hannah is put in these positions because she gives up her power. This guy is the one on his back foot. He’s in trouble. Hannah’s not. She has the upper hand. She could meet him and write a positive story defending him. Or she could eviscerate him in print. Yet she walks in to his apartment like a mouse meeting a cat.

  • Dani Heifetz

    “She admires you,” … “And then you unbuckle your pants. What’s she gonna do next?”

    The foreshadowing of this quote makes me feel nauseous…

  • Ciccollina

    He was manipulating her with compliments from the very beginning so I knew all along that he did actually do what those women said he did. It’s something people with power and influence do because they know they can.

    Question – what was everyone’s take on the girls walking into his apartment building at the end?