Last night, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit aired one of those rather ridiculous “ripped from the headlines” episodes – where current(ish) scandals are dramatized by Dick Wolf and Co. for ratings (and, presumably, to make us forget how much we miss Elliot Stabler).
But, in a thrifty move, this ep – “American Disgrace” – actually combed three different events into one storyline. It opened with a nod to the Solange/Jay Z elevator scuffle, shifted into a take on the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident (whether that was intentional or not) then brought things home with a slightly modified version of Donald Sterling’s racist rants. Consider it an economy pack of scandal.
At the center of it all was retired basketball superstar Shakir “The Shark” Wilkins, beloved icon and the most dominant athlete of his era (despite not being much taller than Olivia Benson). After Shark renews his lucrative contract with Orion Bay Sportswear at a press conference, he is confronted in an elevator by a publicist, who accuses him of rape. This begins a feeding frenzy – sorry – and soon, two other women come forward and allege the superstar had drugged and sexually assaulted them.
But is The Shark guilty, or was the whole thing part of a smear campaign by Orion Bay’s secretly racist owner, Orion Bauer (played with jowly aplomb by Stacy Keach)? If you really want to know, we suppose you could watch the full episode. It’s full of broad, vaguely offensive caricatures, unsubtle speeches about race, gender and idol worship and one genuinely weird scene where the new detective goes all Rust Cohle on the SVU gang.
Yeah, it was pretty bad. Not Chris Brown and Rihanna bad, but still. Perhaps it’s better Stabler isn’t around to see this.