WTF Primetime TV Moment: Kathy Griffin on SVU

3.4.2010

By Jessanne Collins

It felt like it missed the mark, completely, like it was trying to pull
off a stunt that it didn't have the guts to go all the way with. And why a stunt at all? From a respectable crime drama that's supposed to, you know, dramatize crime? Is lesbianism really just so inherently laughable it can't be treated with the same respect and nuance Law and Order writers regularly dole out to child-molestation and high-end prostitution and other Extreme Topics?

It felt like one of those kinda funny but mostly annoying episodes of the X-Files that just nodded at how ridiculous and convoluted the meta-plot and sexual tension were; when you were like OK, haha, so you really are just fucking with us? Great, thanks for admitting it, now can we please find out what cigarette-smoking man really knows? It felt, for that matter, like any episode of Lost involving people in vests.

So OK, we’re in an era of post-irony and meta-narrative, and we love Gossip Girl most when it bleeds into our own New York City and maybe SVU is just trying to get in on the fun? They even named the episode “P.C.” so we’ll be sure to get it. But that’s sort of the problem, because everything last night’s episode said about lesbians was just ridiculous and not real and not smart and -- I’ll say it! -- actually offensive.

That’s why I’m calling it the most bonkers piece of TV of 2010. Because IT’S 2010!!!! It’s not 1977, the mythological era of political-lesbianism and feminist riot freakouts! But at the same time, it’s also definitely not a time when we are so beyond gay rights and gay stereotypes that we can laugh hysterically at them in the context of a show about serial hate-provoked rape and murder.

On the contrary, of course, lesbian -- or "LGBTQIA," if you will -- rights are not a moot point, even though -- shall I say it again? -- it's 2010. So caricaturing a bunch of dated stereotypes to Law and Order viewers and happily married middle-Americans is progressive...how, exactly? Was the half-assed twist of Babs's personal conflict over her complicated sexuality supposed to suffice for character humanity and plot complexity? Because it didn't. Was there some button-pushing here that was intended to be revolutionary but ended up carpeting the cutting room floor instead? Would this have felt less like a farce if Babs had successfully planted one on Olivia, as the original script called for, instead of grabbing a gratuitous, but also really safe and apologetic, smooch from Stabler instead? I'm certainly not convinced it would have.

“What was that!?!?” I asked my boyfriend at the end of the episode, wiping away tears of incredulous, uncomfortable laughter. Was that funny because it was supposed to be? Or because it was failing so bad at what it was trying to do? I'm still not sure, and I'm not sure which is worse.

--JESSANNE COLLINS

Previously > The Glossy Indecency of The Olympic Games

Tags: Popnography
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