Spoiler alert! This is a deep dive into Episode 2 of SBS’s brand-new original drama, The Hunting.
Watch Episode 2: 'Dtf?' at SBS On Demand
Episode 2 of The Hunting, titled ‘DTF’, wants to answer one main question: why aren’t we talking to the boys? Why is it the girls who are getting slut-shamed and feeling guilty? Why is it the girls who have to alter their behaviour?
It’s a new school day. Dip and Nassim are continuing the love-in they started last week at the beach, adorably holding hands. They’re both blissfully unaware of the website and the horror show about to unfold. Nassim casually mentions Ray confiscated his phone, but there’s no need to worry, he doesn’t have his password, and besides, Nassim deleted Dip’s photo. Her privacy is paramount.
Ray is still reeling from the overnight discovery of the website. He’s in damage control and discourages Dip from drawing any more attention to herself by nominating for School Captain. She’s confused – she gets straight As, she can handle the extra pressure and it would look good for her university applications – why should she care about a bit of extra scrutiny?
It’s the start of this episode’s recurring theme of men trying to “take care” of things for women, usually with terrible outcomes.
Zoe’s arriving at school to more attention than usual. It’s pretty clear why: on her locker someone has stuck a screenshot of her with the words “Fuck a Feminazi” scrawled across it in fiery red. She’s furious. Andy is straight on the defensive, insisting it wasn’t him. She asks if he hates women (spoiler: yes!) and he says she sounds insane. She accuses him of gaslighting her. Girl is down with her feminist buzzwords. He won’t apologise because he didn’t do it. What’s she going to do? Report him to the teacher and admit that she was masturbating on a webcam? Nope, she says. She’ll report him to the principal. Zoe is 100% a girl of our time. She isn’t really surprised by what boys do, but she’s shocked they still get away with it. She expects more from her generation and from the adults in charge.
Ray gives Nassim his phone back and confronts him about Dip’s photo on the website. Nassim is shattered – he doesn’t know anything about it or who put it there. Eventually Ray seems to believe him, but tells him he’d better get it down, and fast. He can’t contain this situation for long. Nassim knows there’s only one way the image made it online: Andy.
Meanwhile, Dip is starting to twig that something is up when random “DTF?” texts slide into her DMs. (DTF means “Down to F**k” for all those, like me, born before the year 2000.) Dip’s confused and a bit weirded out but tries to ignore it.
Now it’s time for a bit of sex-ed, courtesy of Ray, who sends the boys out of class so he can give the girls a lecture about not sending nudie-rudies. “The only safe way to send a picture is to not send it,” he says. And look, he’s not wrong. But it’s an outdated logic, and this episode’s brilliant touch is having a “good guy” like Ray take this opinion because it shows how deep-seated the attitude is. For all his forward-thinking, at the end of the day Ray is applying the same band-aid solution (don’t send nudes) as the slut-shamers. He cares about his students’ welfare but his approach is to fix the girls – who are exploring a normal teenage sexual curiosity – rather than the boys, who have turned sex into a conquest.
Eliza calls him on it straight away: The boys need this lecture even more. Then Ray tells her about the website. He hasn’t told the principal yet. Ray’s insistence that he “handle it” is subtly sexist in itself. He thinks he knows better than the principal, despite her years of experience. He convinces Eliza to let him sort it out. He wants to protect Dip, rather than tell her the truth and trust she can face it. Eliza thinks Dip needs to be told. Ray just thinks they should wait until the photo is down: the last thing they want is for her to see it.
Too late. Back in the classroom, the creep who has slid into Dip’s DMs has just sent it to her. She’s mortified, devastated, heartbroken.
Over at her school, Zoe is trying to explain skype sex to the principal. I gotta admit I find it a little hard to believe this is the first time he’s heard about it, considering he runs a co-ed school in 2019, but by his Doc Brown hairdo and his choice of necktie, I’m willing to roll with it. Zoe says skype sex is common – a lot of kids do it because you don’t get STIs. This one line sums it up: for so many girls, this kind of sexual exploration is liberating and gives them control over the situation. They can flirt and they can feel sexy without having to push themselves into situations they’re uncomfortable with. As Zoe tells her mums later, she’s never had sex; this seemed a good alternative. These girls want to practise safe sex, but they’re still getting screwed over by boys taking advantage of them.
The principal calls a meeting of the two families. Andy admits to the skype sex but says “I can’t control whether she gets off on it or not!” He again denies putting the photo on her locker – which, fine, he didn’t – and says she’s probably chatting to heaps of guys. Zoe says he’s slut-shaming her, he replies, “if the shoe fits”. Simone, Andy’s mum, finally tells him to stop, unlike his dad, Nick, who says nothing and just rolls his eyes in the direction of Zoe and her mums. Andy says it’s a stitch-up, brings up Zoe’s megaphone “stunt” about the school uniform and calls her an attention seeker. He lies and slut-shames so convincingly and seems to genuinely take no shame in his actions. As far as he’s concerned, she had it coming because she dared to express her voice and her sexuality.
None of the parents know what to do. Zoe’s mums tell her she did nothing wrong, but privately admit they’re at a loss: kids have way more confidence these days. But at least girls today are embracing their sexuality; it’s healthy, right? Shouldn’t it be encouraged? They’re not wrong. They know telling girls not to have sex isn’t going to work – it’s never worked – but once again, it’s not the girls who are the problem here.
Speaking of problems, Nick is doing some stellar parenting of his own, clearing Andy’s devices of any incriminating evidence. In one of the episode’s best scenes, Nick seems almost proud of his son and his sexual proclivity. Andy’s punishment is little more than a clip around the ears as Nick recounts how he once got caught at school with a porno mag, but things are different now. Nick taunts him, calls him “Baccalaureate Boy” and tells him he was a “bloody idiot” for not realising there are consequences to putting sexy screenshots online.
So basically, take heed, kids: It’s okay to be a misogynistic douche, just make sure you hide the damn evidence. It’s such a good scene. Such a disturbing scene, in so many ways, but such a good scene, because it shows exactly how this kind of thinking perpetuates. Nick thinks it’s all a bit funny, thinks Zoe is a bit of a trouble maker, thinks boys will be boys and it’s his job is to protect his son rather than get him to face what he’s done. He thinks he’s handled it.
Just like Ray, but on a much darker scale, Nick likes to “handle” things, especially women. He tells his wife he found nothing on Andy’s computer and says he talked to him and he’s ashamed. Then he mocks her concern for Zoe, saying she has two mums already, she doesn’t need another. It’s so interesting, Nick’s constant put-downs of Zoe and her mums. It’s like he’s subconsciously threatened by women that don’t seem to need men, so much so that he has to make fun of them.
Poor Dip is still reeling from the photo. She feels like the whole school is staring at her, and her phone keeps going off with creepazoids’ messages. She sets her profile to private and goes off in search of Nassim. She can’t believe he did this. She liked him. He liked her too. He didn’t mean for any of this to happen. She wants to know if the photo is down. It isn’t. And her teacher knows it exists. Dip is devastated.
The next day, she can’t bring herself to go to school. She feels too sick. She can’t make it stop or go away. It’s heartbreaking how a selfie that represented a moment in which she felt so beautiful and confident, has now made her feel completely powerless. This show does a brilliant job of reflecting just how society tries to control women’s sexuality, tries to cut it down from being a feat of strength to something to be embarrassed by.
At school, Andy and Zoe find out which of his mates put the photo on Zoe’s locker. She asks who texted it to him. No one, he says. No one had to. The cogs churn in Zoe’s head and suddenly she realises this is much bigger than one screenshot. At home, she frantically searches for herself online. It takes her about twelve seconds to find the picture – and the website – and all the other girls who are victims of this cruel, sexist hunt. Her face switches in an instant from disbelief, to horror to sheer, blind fury.
Eliza asks Ray if the photo is down. He doesn’t know. It’s not the sort of website you can check on a school network. Eliza isn’t prepared to wait. Just like Zoe, she’s not going to sit around while the men try and fix this: she goes looking herself and discovers the true extent of the horror. She knows she has to call the principal. It’s high school students hunting pictures of high school students. It’s child pornography, and it’s illegal.
Dip’s day is going from bad to worse. Her mum is off to an emergency school council meeting called by the principal, something about students on a pornographic website… Cue Dip’s horrified sobs. She’s so, so sorry, for everything. Her mother twigs and recoils in disbelief. “What have you done!” she bellows at her. “You must fix this!” Her father must not find out. Dip is distraught. She’s exhausted. She’s devastated. Her life has been turned upside down, it’s not her fault and there’s nothing she can do. Nassim feels terrible. Not as terrible as Andy is about to feel however: Zoe has made an official complaint and the police are at his door.
The girls might be the ones getting blamed for all this, but they’re also the ones who are going to make sure someone is held accountable.
Watch The Hunting on Thursdays at 8.30pm on SBS.
Here’s episode 1 if you missed it: