Alex Casey sat down with her good mate, insanely knowledgable TV freak Sophie, to play the Law & Order SVU drinking game. This is their story (dun dun). //
Full disclosure – I’m a little hungover. Last night I invited my friend Sophie over to play the Law & Order: SVU drinking game, in the interests of breaking new ground in hard hitting experiential television reportage. Sophie works alone in a laboratory testing sand samples, and spends a great deal of time watching a great deal of television. She has a keen eye for details, and can remember every single bit part actor in every TV show and movie in the history of ever. What I didn’t know at the time, was that this valuable skill was about to get us very, very drunk.
We poured ourselves a big glass of alcohol each, and chose 10 rules from various lists across the internet:
Within three minutes of episode one season 10 (that’s as far back as Lightbox goes), we encounter a doctor doing a vaguely tense African or Jamaican accent. “Bad Accent” is added to the list – we want to make the game our own – so we both take a swig, determined to make this worth our while.
A blonde woman walks onscreen. Sophie yells out that it’s Modern Family’s Julie Bowen, and therefore “5. Celebrity Guest”. I can confidently say I’ve never seen Bowen before in my life, but I drink anyway. We encounter Munch for the first time, and quickly realise that he is going to be a serious enabler. Munch comes out with guns blazing whilst interviewing a possible suspect, “yes, I’m sure you were very kind to him.” At this point, we have started drinking straight from the bottle. That’s a euphemism and sarcasm. There’s no time for pouring.
A wild “dun dun” comes out of nowhere, followed by a big chug of beer. This is too much alcohol, I’ve already unbuttoned my jeans.
Everyone’s favourite rapper-turned-actor Ice T is a welcome addition to the team. He describes a woman as a “skank ho” and we add “Ice T uses cool slang” to the list. I’m glad that we did – in the next conversation he says “it had to be a brother that jacked you up,” which empties our first drinks.
Olivia Benson goes to visit a victim, and at this point we get into a meaty discussion about some of the deeper problems with the show. Granted, we are both a little drunk, but I think the questions still stand. What is the precise nature of the pleasure that people derive from this show? Does it hold educational or cautionary value, or is purely an exploitative and perverted form of entertainment? Why has it been going for SIXTEEN seasons?
Roxanne Gay recently wrote about the issues with SVU in Bad Feminist. She argued that the show mostly represents rape as performed by masked strangers, which distances it from reality. We google it, two out of three instances of rape are by someone you know. It seems maybe SVU isn’t such a cool-headed documentary series after all.
Just when the conversation starts to get real heavy, Sophie reminds me that Taylor Swift has a cat called Olivia Benson. I am blown away by the fact that Taylor Swift watches SVU. Seems like odd choice for a lady standing in a nice dress staring at the sunset to enjoy in her downtime. She is full of surprises, that Taylor. Munch and Ice-T have a three hour long conversation, a constant back and forth of sarcasm and slang. We can barely keep up the chugging required.
Stabler has an epiphany, “he married a rape victim with a little boy… this son of bitch is raising them” that definitely deserves it’s own “dun dun” after it. We yell “dun dun” and drink – if the editors aren’t going to pick up the slack we’ll take matters into our own hands. I’m getting a bit hazy at this point, groggily lifting my beer as Sophie realises that someone onscreen was in The Big Bang Theory. This is exhausting.
Time for Episode Two.
Someone hits on Olivia within 20 seconds – that’s one rule we haven’t seen yet so we take a delighted swig. This episode is about a teenage paedophile. It’s a very tough watch as he reveals his uncontrollable urges to the SVU gang, marred only slightly by Sophie yelling “HE’S LINCOLN JUNIOR IN PRISON BREAK, DRINK!”
We have to rewind this scene back twice, missing a major plot point because of talking about how Lincoln Junior from Prison Break also looks like the guy from Stick It. His mother opens the door, Jesus Christ it’s the Focker wife from Meet the Parents. I’m drunk. I tell Sophie that I have just become acutely aware of how long my toenails are. She scorns me “I can’t believe you can think about anything else aside from this gripping episode.” And she’s right, it is gripping, but I’m finding all this semen talk pretty hard to cope with. I think my toenails might actually be curling over my feet in disgust like the witch in The Wizard of Oz.
Tom Noonan from RoboCop 2 pops up, he’s playing a paedophile as well. While I google to check if it’s him, something catches my eye. ARE THEY USING A GODDAMN GOLLIWOG IN THIS SCENE? I spill my beer dramatically trying to get the screenshot, and we rewatch the scene three times. It’s hard to know.
The paedo from RoboCop 2 keeps appearing, and we are bound by the rules to drink to drink to his celebrity. Is this a bad thing that we’re doing? It’s fine, Taylor Swift watches this show, it’s fine. Right? There’s a gun scene, Ice T and Olivia Benson both pull out their guns. That’s a double drink. Stabler beats the shit out of RoboCop. He is forced to hand over his badge and his gun. It’s followed by a “dun dun”.
That’s three drinks in a row. Despite the intense circumstances, I note that Ice T’s earring is glinting fabulously. I add “Drink Every time Ice T’s Earring Glints Fabulously” to the list. Munch keeps being sarcastic and we keep getting drunk. I guess you’ve got to be a pretty sarcastic guy when you have ears that huge. He looks like the BFG. I drink to the BFG, calling it a celeb cameo of sorts.
One of my eyes is shutting by itself. I struggle to stay focussed between the extended black pauses of this episode. We toast to the lengthy black void of SVU. The Dad goes on trial for killing his son for being a paedophile. You can cut the tension with a knife. The scene buffers. I slur a toast to the buffer. The episode finishes on an open ending, but I haven’t even noticed. We both sit in a heavy drunken silence after the last “dun dun”. “Oh wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?” Sophie asks the ceiling. I can barely move my mouth to answer.
I’m not bothered with the plot at this point. It’s something about Stabler’s bipolar daughter Kathleen having a shower in a neighbouring house. There’s a clear Psycho homage. We add “Homage” to the list, but we’re both starting to wilt.
Well, I am. Sophie’s just perked up after recognising Judith from Two and a Half Men in the background. She’s got to be making it up at this stage. I’m very deeply relaxed, finding it hard to focus on the screen because there is a giant moth flying around. Stabler goes to visit his mother, who is played by elderly Murph from Interstellar. Note for future players: the celebrity cameo rule is by far the most effective and must be included.
Okay, I’m literally falling asleep at this point. Murph from Interstellar is talking about her struggle with bipolar, “I felt empty, like someone had reached into me and scooped out my soul.” Which is quite an apt note to drift away on, because it’s exactly how I feel after this booze-fuelled trip of SVU episodes. I fall asleep with my head in one hand and a beer in the other, ready for sweet dreams of luminous semen and dancing Golliwogs.
Just a normal Wednesday night, really.