Girls Recap: Episode 3, ‘American Bitch’


She’s not a journalist, she’s a writer

The bottle episode is an art-form that can be difficult to pull off. It involves few sets (usually because of budget) and as few characters as possible to tell a story. ‘American Bitch’ is not the first bottle episode that Girls has attempted, but it certainly is its best. The episode starts off by Hannah going to the swanky apartment building of author Chuck Palmer, played by Matthew Rhys. And that’s where the entire episode takes place.

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The still shots of his awards and mementos feels like a visual reference to Wes Anderson, though Chuck’s apartment lacks the requisite splashes of bright color. It turns out that Hannah wrote an article about him, and he invited her to his apartment to discuss it. It’s clear that she isn’t here on assignment, but is instead present to fulfill the curiosities of this dude. He does, awkwardly, refer to her as “man.”

It’s made immediately clear that Hannah sees right through him. She calls him out on the pictures of himself he has, and cares very little for his ego. This is peak Hannah right here – focused and without filter. Chuck slept with some college girls on his book tour, and is irked that Hannah is’t convinced that they were all entirely consensual situations. He doesn’t want to explain himself; he wants to tell her that none of it matters anyway.

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Matthew Rhys is fantastic as Chuck. He’s all ego, worried that this controversy is going to end him and hurt his family. He doesn’t care that four women have come out against him, and he certainly doesn’t care that Hannah finds this important. All the while Hannah sits there, loudly exhales, rolls her eyes, but all the while goes toe to toe with him. She never once lets him railroad her. He also, by the way, has a mug with “I <3 Chuck” on it. And he actually uses it.

This is just about as confident as Hannah gets, and it’s thrilling to watch. The two don’t spend the entire episode at odds – she shares a story of harassment form when she was a child and he shares a story that he’s writing. Hannah’s argument is that he is in a place of power, and the girls he meets are taken advantage by that. He then, of course, does the same to her. He flatters her, asks her where he’s from, and then offers a signed copy of a Philip Roth novel.

So let’s talk about that for a minute. He feels empowered enough to take out his penis, though Hannah is smart enough not to fall into the same traps. When she is, understandably, shocked about it, he wears the slimiest grin imaginable.

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‘American Bitch’ is very much a comment on power preying on those who are weaker, those who are drawn to it. In a strong season, it stands as the high water mark. It’s official: Girls has never been better.