The case of Jussie Smollett’s allegedly faked hate crime may be returning to the courts shortly, but one thing is for sure: It’s coming soon to a TV near you.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will soon feature an episode based on the former Empire actor’s brush with two men, brothers Ola and Abel Osundario, who he claimed committed a hate crime driven by racism and homophobia.
A preview of Thursday’s episode shows the wall-to-wall media coverage of the January 29 incident, which initially drew widespread shock and dismay that a nationally recognized actor (who, at the time, starred as Jamal Lyons on the Fox musical drama) and community activist was harmed for being visibly LGBTQ+.
For those who need a refresher: Earlier this year Smollett allegedly received a threatening letter to the studio where Empire is filmed, one containing a powdery white substance. One week later, he claimed he was doused with bleach, punched, and peppered with racist and homophobic insults by two Trump supporters in MAGA hats while grabbing a late-night meal.
Soon after, the two men came forward alleging they were paid to stage the attack, and the outrage instead turned into condemnation, as well as 16 felony charges against Smollett from Chicago police.
The situation is all-too-ideal fodder for another “ripped from the headlines” edition of the longrunning Law & Order series, which changes the location to New York City as the victimized celebrity defends himself in the press. But commanding officer Olivia Benson, portrayed by Emmy-winner Mariska Hargitay, pledges to not let the case go.
In reality, Smollett’s 16-count felony charge was dropped following a court appearance, and the actor instead performed community service and forfeited the $10,000 bond he paid beforehand.
But a special prosecutor assigned to the case reportedly has the power to reinstate the charges and try the incident in court, even as the case has already played out in the court of public opinion. TMZ reported that the Osundario brothers recently met with the special prosecutor to share their side of the story.
Whatever happens, viewers will be at the edge of their seats wondering how the SVU sleuths handle the case. Will the Smollett-inspired character face a full trial or will the unit’s investigation take a different turn?
Viewers will find out Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time/9 p.m. Central.