“F*ck It, We Have To”: Kathryn Hahn is on a feminist mission

Kathryn Hahn is carrying heels in her purse. The heels would look better with her outfit: a vintage electric yellow dress with a tiered skirt and puffy sleeves. But after a morning appearance on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda—where the hosts declined to say the name of Hahn’s new Amazon show—Hahn has changed into flats. The heels have already done their job as part of Hahn’s two-day New York City promotional roller coaster.

Hahn’s new TV show is called I Love Dick. It’s loosely based on Chris Kraus’ 1997 epistolary novel of the same name; Hahn plays Kraus. It’s a sexy show, for sure: On the surface, it centers on Kraus’ obsession with a colleague of her husband’s, and how that obsession impacts her work and her marriage. But the “Dick” in the title is the name of a central character in the show, the object of Kraus/Hahn’s obsession. And neither the book nor the show, adapted by Amazon vet Jill Soloway, are as interested in sex as they are in female artists—while combating the idea that there’s a prescribed set of rules for what a female artist can be.

Dick is Hahn and Soloway’s third collaboration. Soloway created a role for Hahn in her critically acclaimed Transparent (Rabbi Raquel, who enters into a doomed relationship with Josh Pfefferman) after casting her as the lead in her 2013 film Afternoon Delight. In Delight she played a stay-at-home mom, Rachel, who brings a stripper home to nanny her son. (Suffice to say things go awry.) While they’ve worked together multiple times, Hahn rejects the idea that she’s a muse, of sorts, to Soloway: “Muse implies a sort of pedestal, and we’re more in the muck together,” she says. In developing what would become Dick, the pair took a series of walks around Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, discussing various books authored by women before landing on Dick.

Soloway expanded the narrative to show a range of female artists and perspectives, but it’s easy to assume that I Love Dick is solely about Kraus’ fervent lust for the titular Dick, played by Kevin Bacon. Kraus and her husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne) find themselves inexplicably drawn to Dick; he becomes the focus of Kraus’ new project. Late in the show’s first season, Sylvere asks Dick why he doesn’t like being Kraus’s muse. “It’s humiliating,” Dick replies. He’s annoyed at being used for the sake of art in the same way that male artists have been using women for decades. “I think [there’s] a quote in episode five, which I love, that there are 500 times more female nudes than female artists in art history books,” says Hahn, energized by the fact that she and Soloway have crafted a narrative show that puts a man in that position. “Just like, uh huh…so good. In a nutshell, [women have] been the they forever and ever, the that, and it feels really good to be the the.”

Read more at Elle.