The latest episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent took on the Duke Lacrosse team rape case. When NBC was producing the show, this would have been a tricky premise for them to carry off (seeing as the real life case resembled a bad episode of of L&O). With the USA Network team, it proved to be a disaster.
This episode contained:
- A working class American young woman of Dominican descent who’s been raped, supposedly by Ivy League college football players. Oh, and she’s a stripper.
- A young Korean-American woman, a friend of the raped woman who’s murdered after she gets cold feet about testifying to back up her friend.
- One of the accused football players, a working class young man whose mother is white and whose father is African-American.
- The white male assistant district attorney (middle or upper class?) who’s prosecuting the case in hopes of becoming the next district attorney.
- The ADA’s wife, also white and middle to upper class and very ambitious – well, vicariously ambitious. She wants her husband to go far in life, so she can ride along.
Guess who committed the crimes? If you read this article, you can probably already guess who didn’t. The rape of the hispanic woman was committed not by the football players but by her ex-boyfriend (who we must assume is from her class and race, since that’s the default in TV when no mention is made to the contrary). The murder of the Korean-American woman was committed by the working class white mother of the accused boy – the one who’s committed race treason by marrying an African-American man. No privileged people got their hands dirty in the making of this episode.
So here we have a woman of color whose longest scene is the one where she’s the corpse at the bottom of the stairs. Here we have another one of those horrible women who lie about rape (I wonder how much this perpetuates the myth that there are more innocent men in jail for rape than there are actual rapes in the world). Here we have a chance to show a bi-racial family getting along just fine in the world, but it turns out the mom’s got no problem killing a woman she’s told is going to “bury” her son by backing up the (false) rape accusation on the stand.
And that brings us to the ADA’s wife, the one who wants her husband to go far in life so she can be married to someone important (she’s on her third husband, actually, the first two not having gone far enough to satisfy her). If this isn’t repulsive enough, she’s also decided this case against the football players is the one that’s going to carry her husband to the top. She’s the one who, upon learning the Korean-American woman isn’t going to testify because the rape story isn’t true, winds up the working class white woman so she’ll go kill her. Why a dead witness helps the case, I’m not sure. The show is so poorly written now, the plotholes have started collapsing in on themselves and sucking everything around them into a parallel universe.
The point is: our anti-rape crusader turns out to be Lady MacBeth on a rampage. Our rape victim turns out to be a big fat liar, even though they usually twist the ending when they’re ripping off a real life case, which in this case would’ve meant the football players actually being proven to have committed the rape. And the woman who married a man who wasn’t “her kind” is a murderer.
This is one show where the writers’ strike may not make a difference. I suspect turning the actors loose to improvise a story might actually turn out more interesting.