Hannah Einbinder, Christina Hendricks Talk Caddy Ava Sex Scene

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SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for the sixth episode of “Hacks” Season 3.

Season 3 of “Hacks” began with Ava (Hannah Einbinder) finally feeling happy in both her career and her love life, but of course, the stability didn’t last. After Ruby (Lorenza Izzo) dumps Ava for restarting her toxic working relationship with Deborah (Jean Smart), Ava badly needs a win, which she gets in the form of a hot, older rebound — until everything goes to shit yet again.

In Episode 6, “Par for the Course,” Ava accompanies Deborah to a golf tournament where they’ll schmooze with network bigwigs as they continue trying to land Deborah the late night hosting gig she’s coveted for decades. After Deborah points out that Ava isn’t as “of the people” as she thinks she is, never having worked a service industry job before, she agrees to act as Deborah’s caddy for the weekend.

On the course, they come across an unnamed “gorgeous golf queen” (Christina Hendricks) who sneers when a male caddy suggests she use the easier women’s tee. “Fuck that,” she retorts, before executing a perfect swing in front of all the network execs and walking away. The next day, golf queen commands Ava to get on her knees to repair a divot in the grass, and later that night, she reprimands Ava at the hotel bar. “I don’t think caddies are allowed to drink up here,” she says, and when Ava offers to leave, she agrees, “I think you should. And I think you should come to my room.”

Upstairs, the two begin making out and undressing, but golf queen’s meanness just gets weirder. Ava insists that she’s showered as golf queen tells her how badly she stinks, but continues to go with it until golf queen calls her “caddy girl” one more time. “I just wanna be clear about one thing. I’m not actually a caddy,” Ava says, before bragging about her writer-producer gig on a comedic news show. Golf queen is instantly turned off. Ava calls her “problematic” for only being interested in working class subordinates, which she happily admits to: “What, are you gonna lecture me on inclusivity? Tell me how I can’t fund fracking?”

Ava is shocked to learn that golf queen is a Republican. Golf queen is more miffed about losing the opportunity to urinate on a caddy.

Variety spoke to Hendricks and Einbinder about their fandom of each other’s shows and the politics of piss play.

Hannah, did you know Christina had been cast when you read the script? What was your reaction?

Einbinder: I did not initially know when I read the episode, but they did ceremoniously tell me early on into shooting, because they knew how big of a fan of hers I am. I did sort of die a thousand deaths. I was reborn again. I was introduced to Christina through “Mad Men,” which was a very strong hyperfixation of mine in college. I watched the series six or seven times through, and once, actually, backwards-to-forwards, which was interesting because then it’s about a guy who’s really enlightened and just throws his life away. So yeah, they knew I was such a fan.

Hendricks: I didn’t know that — I had no idea! I’m so flattered!

Einbinder: I just think you’re a national treasure.

Christina, have you been a “Hacks” fan for long? How’d you react to the script?

Hendricks: I watched it immediately, from the jump. It was the talk of the town — I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t watching! I watched the first season two or three times while I was waiting for Season 2. So when I got the opportunity come to the show, I was already a huge fan, and that doesn’t happen very often. It’s a little bit surreal, because you’re like, “Oh, I walked into my TV!” And I loved it because my character is so despicable. So gross. It’s something just so completely different.

For Ava, this episode is all about learning the power dynamics and sexual dynamics that come with support roles. And Christina, we saw you navigate that for years as Joan Holloway. Did you ever feel that this episode was in conversation with “Mad Men”?

Hendricks: We didn’t discuss that, but as women, so often, sexual politics and that sort of relationship between people is written into scripts no matter what. Whether it was Joan dealing with it in the 1960s or these characters dealing with it now, it’s always in play.

Your character doesn’t care how “problematic” her sexual tastes are and has an attitude that we normally only get to see from straight male characters. How did it feel to feel to play that and be a little awful?

Hendricks: It’s fun to get in the mind, for a moment, of someone you don’t want to watch on the news and you can’t imagine yourself being at a party with. Our job is to justify people’s behavior and understand why someone would act a certain way. The idea is to be true to that character and find what makes them tick. To be on the other side of a human’s mind than I would normally be is always going to be a fun stretch.

What did that stretch require? We don’t get to see much of what she’s like out in the world. How do you picture the life she lives when she’s not degrading caddies in the bedroom?

Hendricks: You know, she comes in acting quite powerful, but she’s still in a man’s world. As a female, no matter what, you’re always still trying to hold your own and fake it ’till you make it. I think she’s probably faked it ’till she made it for quite some time. But she does it comfortably. She’s still clocking the other women around her. In a scene like this, it is a work environment. So everyone is friends, quote-unquote, but it’s still a competitive arena. She’s got eyes on on everything in the room and knows where she can work her power, and knows where she can’t. And she sees something in Ava that’s like, “Okay, I can work with that.” She senses her admiration pretty quickly. She’s good at clocking things.

Because she presents as a badass during the golf tournament who shows the men how it’s done, Ava makes assumptions that leave her shocked when she finds out she’s dealing with a gay Republican. Walk me through her experience of this attraction at the tournament.

Einbinder: One of her first experiences being there is seeing her totally chastise these big dogs in the social landscape of this tournament and their business. If there is something gay happening between them, I think Ava also then assumes, “If she’s queer, she must be on the right side of things.” I don’t think it occurs to Ava that she could be Republican — or invested in fracking operations. It’s just assumed, and that’s why that reveal goes down.

Ava is thrown off by all the insults, but she’s still generally down with it until she hears herself being called a caddy too much and has to announce that actually, she has a cool Hollywood job. What does that say about her?

Einbinder: It speaks to what Deborah says early on in the episode. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the theory that Ava touts and how she actually feels and behaves in practice. Deborah called out a little bit of hypocrisy in the beginning of the episode, and I think we’re seeing that again when Ava’s like, “Just for full transparency, I’m not actually a caddy.” She’s really proud to tell her that she’s a writer and a producer, and it’s this beautifully poetic moment where everything’s converging. Ava wants to position herself as as more powerful, and that is actually an issue in that moment. It’s speaking not only to Ava’s biases, but to conservative ideology as a whole.

Hendricks: I also think that the whole twist of my character being a Republican is something that we all sort of acknowledge about ourselves, but maybe don’t talk about: We’re allowed loosey-goosey morals in the bedroom and behind closed doors, because that’s our decision, and we may behave the opposite of how we behave in the real world. But all of a sudden you bring politics into it, and it’s like, “Things just got real. Real fucking fast. I might be able to degrade myself, but I cannot stoop so low as to agree with your politics.” It’s funny. “What I choose to do with myself is my own business, but you start fucking with the rest of the country and I’m out.”

The scene ends with them arguing about how the night would have gone if Ava hadn’t revealed her job: The Republican insists she was going to pee on Ava, and Ava insists that it wouldn’t have happened — though she says she’d have let a socialist pee on her. What do you think would have happened?

Hendricks: I think they would have had a pretty wild night. And then they would have had an uncomfortable breakfast, because at some point, it was gonna come out.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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