A few weeks when I traveled to Boulder for work, I watched a Law & Order: SVU marathon on the plane (with a little of MTV’s Teen Mom 2 thrown in for trashy measure). After I got back to my apartment, I decided to stay in for the night and continue watching detectives Benson, Stabler and Ice-T on my Netflix account. And I haven’t stopped watching since. (Don’t ask me how many episodes I’ve watched–I’m deeply ashamed by the number.)
I most often watch SVU before I go to sleep at night. In fact, I can’t fall asleep without the sound of the iconic sound effect and though I’ve tried switching to other television shows for my late night viewing pleasure, nothing else has the same somnolent effect.
So what’s the problem, you might be wondering. Well, as a woman living in New York City, falling asleep to the sound of rape-homicides is hardly reassuring. Before this television spree, I didn’t often worry about being attacked in my apartment by an unknown assailant in the middle of the night. Now, I frequently check the locks on my windows.
I wonder why I’m doing this to myself. Is this some sort of penance for being unapologetically single and living on my own? Am I punishing myself for these life choices by watching a cautionary tale of what can happen to women like me?
Another interesting development that has arisen from my personal SVU marathon is how my attitude towards the detectives has changed. Previously, I had been a fan of Christopher Meloni’s Det. Elliot Stabler, the macho police officer on the show. Watching him in small doses, his aggression never bothered me. But after viewing so many episodes in succession, my opinion changed. Every time he yells at a perp (his term, not mine), insisting with only the scantest of evidence that the man killed-raped-molested a young woman or child, I found myself getting more and more annoyed. This guy has an anger problem, I’d think. And there’s no evidence.
You know that saying–when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail? Stabler is all mallet–he just wants to pound out solutions. Also, his anger largely seemed counterproductive. He always beat up on the wrong guy, often destroying his life in the process. Meloni still might be sexy but his character is not.
My new favorites are Finn (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer). They use intelligence and finesse to figure out solutions. They are far less macho and all the more effective for it. Perhaps I’ve finally reached an age where obvious and over-the-top displays of masculinity are no longer attractive.