Last night, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit premiered a new episode “ripped from the headlines,” with a story line that was obviously supposed to be a take off of Chris Brown and Rihanna. A singer named Micha Charles and her boyfriend, hip hop star Caleb Bryant get into an argument when Bryant is caught talking to another woman and Bryant beats and chokes Charles until she’s nearly dead.
The episode was heavy handed and a litte – no a lot – cheesy but there are 5 reasons why it was both awesome and bad (mixed with sincerity and snark):
1. The abuser’s name is Caleb Bryant.
American audiences sometimes have trouble keeping up so clearly the folks at Law and Order wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the point. By naming the abuser Caleb Bryant it was like a big red flag and a bright light, indicating that yes we are in fact watching a story that is inspired by Chris Brown.
2. Caleb beats Micha over something minor.
I appreciated that the episode illustrated an important point often overlooked in domestic violence cases: the abuser often is set off by something small and insignificant. In real life, Chris Brown was upset about Rihanna asking about a text message he received from another woman and in the episode Caleb is angered by a very similar trigger, and it’s addressed in the episode (in a really heavy handed way) that the beating isn’t Micha’s fault and she didn’t do anything to make Caleb beat her. So, different than real life.
3. Sue Simmons!
If you grew up in the tri-state area, Sue Simmons of NBC is a household name. She co-anchored the 11 pm news my entire life, but was recently was let go by NBC. Last night’s episode featured Simmons in a big way and it was a sight to behold. Her presence gave the over the top episode a real New York feel.
4. Bow tie.
Just like in real life, Caleb Bryant wears a baby blue sweater and a bow tie in his first TV interview after beating Micha. Chris Brown wore the same stupid bow tie when he went on Larry King Live to proclaim that “he didn’t remember” and that witnessing abuse in his childhood was in no way a contributing factor to him growing up to be an abuser (aka bullshit). The sight of the bow tie make me LOL because it was very clear that the producers of SVU were paying close attention to detail.
5. He Kills Her.
After the beating, Micha decides not to press charges and reconciles with Caleb. This reconciliation, was clearly done because of the real life reconciliation between Chris Brown and Rihanna but the story didn’t end there. My favorite detective Olivia Benson says, “Now we wait,” when they realize that Caleb and Micha are back together and she’s not pressing charges, indicating that it’s only a matter of time before he beats her again. Most experts would agree with this and say that the cycle of abuse predicts another incident, and another, until ultimately many abuse victims are murdered by their abusers. And that’s what happens in the episode. In the final scene, Caleb receives a text message on his phone and Micha asks him who it is, setting him off again into a rage, and he kills her.
So while the conclusion of this fictional story is much different than the real life conflict between Chris Brown and Rihanna the SVU ending was all too real.
Did you see the episode? What did you think?