Spoiler alert! This is a deep dive into episode 3 of The Hunting.
Watch episode 3, #Shittyboys now:
Picking straight up from last week, the cops are grilling Andy. Simone doesn’t know why they are here: it was just a photo on a locker. But the police are enquiring about something different: the website. Andy is defensive: he knows nothing, and they won’t find anything on his laptop. Besides, he left it at school.
Simone is trying to understand what happened. Something must have happened for Zoe to want to pursue Andy like this. Simone can’t see it’s actually her son who is the pursuer. He’s tormenting Zoe because she didn’t give him the attention he felt he deserved. Andy swears at her and tries to leave. His dad doesn’t chastise him – just tells him to call if the police “hassle him” again.
It’s the start of a theme this episode about the assumptions we make about boys.
Simone assumes Zoe is nursing a grudge and Andy has caught the brunt of her anger. Nick thinks Andy is doing what boys do. Andy’s appalling behaviour has so far copped little more than a slap on the wrist, while the girls are held to account.
Principal Di Rossi is holding assembly with her senior class, Eliza and Ray observing. She has a cyber security expert in to talk, but firstly she’s going to dish out a bit of old-school sexism. The girls need to wear their uniforms correctly: skirts and dresses to the knees and no black bras. Yeah, it’s total slut-shaming, but she’s hardly alone in thinking that way. Except, putting the onus on girls to change their behaviour does a double disservice: It assumes women are responsible for their own misfortune and it belittles the men by suggesting they’re led entirely by their genitalia. Both these ideas have to change.
Eliza agrees. “You can’t link girls’ uniforms to sexting,” she says, frustrated. Di Rossi wants the girls to learn self-respect. You gotta feel a little sorry for her. She’s not a bad person or educator, it’s just a brand-new world. “Why do they have to send nude photos?” she asks, exasperated. Eliza explains it can be a safe and pleasurable way to explore sexuality.
She’s bang-on, and it highlights how sex and sexism feels different for different generations. Eliza is furious at the status quo and wants to fix it. Di Rossi is happy things are better now than they used to be. She’s offended when Eliza challenges her feminist credentials but believes “there will always be – and have always been – those boys.”
It’s true, but now technology allows “those boys” to network. However, it also levels the playing field. Just as men can find their online tribe, so can women. And finding a tribe has been galvanising for so many who felt ignored before. As Eliza points out, we’re in a moment now where “finally people are willing to yell and scream to make (change) happen.”
Eliza doesn’t believe that men should get away with this behaviour anymore, she doesn’t want to just fight fires: she wants to effect real change. She meets with a journalist and gives her the scoop about the website, about the teenage boys “hunting” teenage girls. If Di Rossi and Ray won’t hold these boys accountable, she will.
Simone reads the article in her immaculately appointed kitchen. She is scared Andy is involved, but Nick is unperturbed. Continuing the theme of men knowing best, Nick says she shouldn’t worry, Andy is a big boy and the last thing he wants is his mother holding his hand. Simone gets he’s becoming a man… but she also knows something isn’t right. Finally, the pent-up frustration of the last few weeks tips over: “You’ve heard the way he’s yelling at me, disrespecting me, swearing at me… this is not the boy that we raised and love.” And look, as a mother with a young son, this hit me hard. I can only imagine feeling your beautiful boy slipping away and there’s nothing you can do. Nick says he’ll handle it…
…which he does, by taking a very confused Andy straight to the police station. “Follow my lead,” Nick tells him. No problem: Andy has been doing that his whole life. In front of the cops, Nick spins lie after lie: His son didn’t screenshot the image of Zoe (lie) or upload it (lie) but he did put it on her locker. (Also, a lie). Except he’s remorseful (definite lie). He’s a teenage boy… his “adolescent mind” clouded his judgement and he just did something stupid and thoughtless. Okay, that’s true.
Andy chips in, inspired by his dad’s capacity to lie so blatantly. “I wasn’t thinking of Zoe at all and I’m really sorry for that.” Andy’s “honesty” gets him a caution. “That’s it?” he says, elated. He got away with it.
Nick tells Simone about their excursion, giving her the same story about teenage boys not being able to handle difficult emotions. The thing is, he’s right, they can’t. But in this series (and in real life) the approach from adults is to say their brains are underdeveloped and “boys will be boys.” That’s no longer good enough.
Zoe is furious Andy is getting off with just a caution. Like Eliza, she is determined to do something about it herself. Zoe writes a post, tagging Andy as the person who put her photo online, protesting that she is slut-shamed while he gets off lightly. She’s over it. She hashtags it #shittyboys, presses post and watches as the likes roll in. She smiles. She’s taking back some control and it feels good.
In his room, Andy sees the tag and loses his mind. At work, Simone sees the post too. They have to do something. Simone is going to go and talk to Zoe at school. Andy? He vows to find where she lives and get his revenge.
Time to check in with poor Nassim. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s devastated for Dip. He confides in his wonderful, thoughtful Dad who encourages him to make things right. He doesn’t help him cover up his mistakes – like Nick – but helps him fix them. Have I mentioned before how much I love Nassim’s dad? He says Dip needs to know Nassim didn’t have any intention of hurting her… which is good in theory, but in going over to Dip’s to apologise, Nassim reveals to her parents exactly what has happened… and Dip’s dad, well, he goes berserk.
Dip’s already wobbly world crashes down completely around her. Alone in her room, she sees Zoe’s post about Andy and notices Nassim is a mutual friend. The ball drops: it must have been Andy who uploaded her photo. She reaches out to Zoe. She wants to meet up.
Eliza tells Ray she called the journalist. He’s furious she didn’t trust him to handle it and he’s furious he couldn’t protect Dip. Now the whole school knows, thanks to the article. Eliza is livid that Ray thinks he was the only one who could handle it. It’s the same conversation she’s been having again and again: others are fighting fires, she’s trying to set the whole thing alight and rise from the ashes. It’s a risky game.
While she obviously cares deeply about the kids in her care, she also reckons someone has to be collateral damage in the fight to equality – and that someone might just have to be Dip. If this scandal, embarrassing as it is, gets people to talk about the real problem, the #shittyboys who keep doing this, then maybe it’s worth it. Because as she says, “NO ONE HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT THE F***ING BOYS!”
Simone finds Zoe at school and demands she take down the post. Simone can’t believe Zoe didn’t think something like this would happen when she went online. She tells her to “have some sense”, again showing her age and lack of understanding. She’s worried about Andy, that this will have a terrible impact on his future. “Well it should,” Zoe replies, tartly. “Because this is who he is… he did that, to me,” she insists. “And you’ve deluded yourself too.”
When Simone goes into Andy’s room later, she realises Zoe’s right: Nick has quietly replaced Andy’s computer, destroying any evidence. She’s shocked and disgusted. She can’t believe what her little boy has become. And she can’t believe she let it happen.
Arriving home, Zoe hears a buzzing in her mailbox. It’s a huge, vibrating dildo. Zoe is shocked, disgusted and terrified. She doesn’t know who did it or who knows where she lives. Online, boys are talking about her on a message board, promising to track her down and get her. She’s being hunted, literally.
Dip and Zoe meet up and for both of them, it’s a relief. They’ve found a confidante, someone who understands what they’re going through. Zoe tells Dip to go to the police. It didn’t work for her – it was just her word against Andy’s – but Dip has Nassim who seems to want to help.
If Nassim had any doubts about his friend’s true character, they vanish pretty quickly after a BBQ lunch at Andy’s place. Andy lies about uploading Zoe’s photo. He didn’t do it, he says, “she wasn’t even naked, it wasn’t worth uploading” and then asks Nassim to send through any more “wins” of Dip, if he gets them. Oh, and he put the dildo in Zoe’s mailbox, and he has the “hilarious” video to prove it.
It’s all the evidence Nassim needs. He agrees that the caution has only shown Andy he can get away with this stuff, so he’ll go with Zoe and Dip to the cops and back up Dip’s statement that Andy uploaded her photo after getting it from Nassim. Little do they know that by admitting on record that they each possessed and sent a nude image of Dip (a minor) they’re both about to be charged with producing child exploitation material.
The final episode of The Hunting airs on Thursday, 22 August at 8.30pm on SBS.