We could take or leave procedurals as a television genre, but resistance against the Ripped From The Headlines trope has proven to be futile for us as viewers. Even though we generally don’t think twice about tuning into an episode of Law & Order: SVU (or any show in the L&O family, for that matter), when news first broke last week that the show was taking a cue from the volatile relationship between Chris Brown and Rihanna, we immediately went home and set our DVR.
(Before we get into this, let’s set aside the issue for the moment that it feels a bit morally askew to take delight in the silliness of a program that’s based on a hyperviolent, real-life event. We acknowledge that domestic abuse is no laughing matter but, that said, the liberties that SVU took with the “facts” of the Breezy/RiRi case certainly are.)
Now, in the SVU universe, the Fake Rihanna is Mycah Green, a 19-year-old pop singer who was first discovered by John “Brass” Blanken (someone modeled loosely on Jay-Z) after her beloved grandmother had sent him a home video of her singing. Mycah and her talented-yet-violent-prone boyfriend, Caleb Bryant (aka the Fake Chris Brown) are in the studio cutting a new duet called
“Nobody’s Business” “You Can Count On Me.” It’s pretty terrible.
After smooching, Mycha stumbles upon Caleb making time with one of his backup singers, someone who fancies herself the second coming of Mary J. Blige. “I can’t leave you alone for five minutes without you getting trashy?”, she asks him, before labeling the backup hoochie a “beef cookie.” Now, I’m not saying that I’m 100% up-to-speed on hip-hop terminology, but I’m fairly certain that people aren’t going around calling each other “beef cookies” on the reg. Nice try, Dick Wolf!
Caleb does not appreciate the insinuation that meat products were meant to blend with desserts. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. He’s got very little self-control when it comes to letting his mouth run (he calls Mycha a “skinny ass whore”), and even less with his fists. He shoves to the floor, and proceeds to beat her in front of Brass, Beef Cookie and Dave Navarro.
Mycha’s facial bruises bear an uncanny —and, quite frankly, an uncomfortable— resemblance to Rihanna’s, but don’t worry, this is about as close as the SVU producers will get to having anything resembling reality in the program. Example: As if it weren’t sufficient enough cause to demonize Caleb/Fake Chris solely for being a woman beater, the writers decide to up the ante by giving him a bit of a Mel Gibson streak, which shows itself after he’s arrested on battery charges:
News of the arrest, as you’d expect, quickly goes viral. Proving that SVU producers haven’t updated their RSS feeds since 2004, the news is broken not on World Star Hip Hop or Media Take Out or Bossip or any number of incredible African-American gossip sites, but instead, on Perez Hilton:
It could’ve been worse, we guess? That could’ve been Pink Is The New Blog. However, just when you feel the vom in the back of your throat threatening to rise, Detective Belzer makes this pronouncement:
Oy. Somewhere in Hollywood, Seth MacFarlane is anxiously tapping his feet while he waits for the media to put Belzer and the SVU showrunner on blast like they did to him over the weekend for making a very similar “joke.”
It gets worse. Policewoman Mariska Hargitay (we couldn’t be bothered to look up her character’s name) eschews giving Mycha/Fake Rihanna legal guidance, but instead gives her some social media advice, the likes of which are so revolutionary that they’ll soon replace Miranda Rights as something that every police officer informs every potential suspect of:
“Hey Now” Hank Kingsley (aka “The Jew” referred to above) is able to get Fake Brown/Bryant out on bail, mainly so that his client can perform a “sold-out concert at the Barclays Center.” (Could Chris Brown sell-out Barclays, we wonder?) He holds a press conference in front of a throng of reporters to announce that not all “hip hop artists are gangsta types”; the scene feels very much like the scene outside the Dallas courthouse when Lee Harvey Oswald was first brought on public display, but in this instance, sadly there’s no Jack Ruby figure on hand (maybe the SVU producers didn’t get that far in their U.S. history studies?). After the scene, here’s how the venerable New York Post treated the story (Hint: One of these is from Law & Order:SVU, and one of them isn’t: Can you tell which is which?)
(Side Note: It adds an extra level of creepiness that NBC keeps showing commercials for this week’s Dateline during the show, an episode which will be focusing on the tragic Oscar Pistorious/Reeva Steenkamp murder case. How long til we see the Blade Runner R.F.T.H. ep of SVU?)
Naturally, just like IRL, Mycha/Rihanna and Caleb/Chris get back together after Caleb goes on Wendy Williams, a rekindling of a forbidden (legally!) affair that they can’t help document on Instagram (sound familiar?). Caleb gives her a massive friendship ring (“Straight outta the Kobe playbook,” Lieutenant Ice-T remarks), and gets himself a the most hilarious jailhouse hip tattoo ever inked.
This is where things really take a turn for the surreal. (Yeah yeah, we know, it’s already gotten pretty surreal.) Caleb gets busted for possession (weed), Mycha throws a record release party to celebrate her new single featuring vocals by her abusive BF, and after a confrontation, someone gets murdered by Fake Breezy. Look, Fake Jay-Z is dead!
The deadly beef between Brass/Fake Hov and Breezy-Lite is obviously influenced by the massive Drake/Chris real-life brawl that went down last year; fortunately when that happened in the fall, no one lost their life. As a result of him MURDERING someone, Caleb gets tossed back in the pokey again, but since no one —not even Mycha— will testify against him (“Nobody saw who killed 2Pac or Biggie, either,” T snarks), he goes free. Naturally, the two lovebirds head South for some much needed vacay:
No comment necessary there, eh?
Well, by this point you’re probably very curious as to whether or not Fake Rihanna and Fake Chris Brown lived happily ever after? As of press time, the real Chris Brown and the real Rihanna seem to be doing quite well (all things considered), but in the alternate SVU universe, Caleb murders Mycha after receiving a text from a side-piece while about a yacht, Robert Wagner (allegedly!) style. DUN DUN! This ending is meant to serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of prolonged abusive relationships, but it’s hard to take this lesson with any sort of seriousness after the way producers have played fast and loose with the truth throughout this episode.
The moral of the story? Real life is pretty dangerous and dramatic, but not nearly exciting enough to frame an entire hour-long episode of around if you go strictly by the IRL facts. RIP Fake Rihanna and Fake Jay-Z, we hardly knew ya.