Nov 232021
 

“Twenty-Five Acts”, aired October 10, 2012 IMDB

The Law & Order franchise often fictionalizes real-world events. In this case, it alludes to the publication and popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy, in an episode aired only 6 months after the trilogy was re-released by Vintage. (FSOG was first published May 25, 2011 by Writers Coffee Shop, and the trilogy was re-released by Vintage in April 2012.)

I thought that this episode also referenced the case of Jian Ghomeshi, a Persian-Canadian radio host and interviewer who allegedly strangled his girlfriend and excused it as consensual BDSM. However, in an odd moment of life imitating art, I found that this episode actually aired 2 years before the allegations about Ghomeshi went public in 2014. 

The author of the hot new erotic novel Twenty-Five Acts, Jocelyn Paley, appears on a talk show. The host, Adam Cain, meets her for dinner, and she secretly gives him her panties under the table. They go back to his place. After some sex she initiates, he crosses the line, throws her on the bed and chokes her with a belt.

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Jun 122020
 

Episode S13E22 “Strange Beauty”, aired May 16, 2012 IMDB

A kidnapped young woman turns up dead with an amputated leg, which leads the detectives into the body modification subculture. 

Body modification is not the same thing as BDSM, though obviously there is considerable overlap of the two subcultures. The episode of SVU that focuses on body modification deploys a lot of the same tropes as episodes of procedural dramas that focus on BDSM. 

Detective Rollins happens to see a woman, Nina, being abducted into a taxi cab. Nina’s mother talks about her distress at seeing her daughter’s extensive tattoos and piercings, which she said started with an octopus tattoo on her ankle. 

That’s when a woman’s severed leg with an octopus tattoo turns up in a canal, which leads to another reported severed leg from years ago. The former owner of that leg is a drug-addicted street sex worker who was paid $25,000 to an unidentified john to amputate her leg. 

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Jun 052020
 

“Slaves” aired May 19, 2000 IMDB

“Slaves” treads some of the same ground as “Stocks & Bondage”, earlier in the first season, as the primary antagonist is a man who psychologically controls multiple women. In this case, there is no financial element to the crimes. 

A street vendor turns in a note asking for help from an unknown woman. The detectives track down the woman named in the note, the aunt of a Romanian immigrant woman, Elena. It would have ended there, but the aunt turns up murdered. 

Detectives Munch and Stabler grill Morrow
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Jun 012020
 

“Stocks & Bondage” First aired November 29, 1999 IMDB

“Stocks & Bondage” opens with a familiar scene: a woman found dead in bondage gear. However, as the detectives investigate, the case turns out to be more about shady financial dealings on Wall Street than sexual deviance. 

“Stocks & Bondage” includes some of the same tropes as the earlier Law & Order episode “Prisoner of Love”, particularly the discussion over whether the death that started the story is an accident, a suicide, or a murder. Unlike the dual focus on detectives and prosecutors of its parent series, Special Victims Unit is mostly about the investigation, not the legal complexities.

Detective Benson views the body. Notice the handcuff visible in the background.
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