This week, in a beautiful convergence of art and life, TV drama delivered two ripped-from-the-headlines Anthony Weiner storylines: one on “Scandal” and one on “Law and Order: SVU.” Taken together, these episodes offered a goofy funhouse mirror of Weiner’s outsized role in the pop cultural imagination. “This story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event,” lied “Law and Order” in its disclaimer. Both episodes were thoroughly entertaining and, at least in flashes, quite accurate, particularly the depressing underwear selfies featured in each. But which was closer to the truth?
Episode Title: Say Hello to My Little Friend
Synopsis: Olivia Pope, desperate for new clients as she navigates her own image problems, bedrudgingly takes on a compulsive sexter and Republican senator named Meyers, who is on trial for murder after a girl he sexted is found dead. Then news breaks that he is still sexting during his trial. “I don’t know why I... I have a lot of stress…I couldn’t sleep. I have a problem,” he offers.
Sexting pseudonym: @RedwoodJohnson, Mr. Chubbles
Sextee: Desiree Oaks
Technology (sextnology) of choice: cell phones, an app called Mixr. (“We met on Mixr last week, it’s an app,” says one girl. “People pretend to use it for networking, but it’s really just a hookup site.”)
The Good Wife: Mrs. Meyers is a steely, glamorous partner at a law firm—the phrase “partner at a law firm” is repeated many times, lest we forget, a la “I’m a partner at a law firm. And he has made me look like the weakest most backward antifeminist this world has ever known.” She is played by Melora Hardin (Jan Levenson on “The Office”) and is a far more interesting character than her husband, a composite of all the emotional responses the public seemed to crave from Huma in the wake of Weinergate—elegant outrage, thinly veiled disgust, a general attitude of kick-him-to-the-curb pragmatism. “I’m done forgiving him. The sacrifices I have made for that man. The marriage I protected because I thought actually meant something. And for what? So he could shove a camera down his pants,” Mrs. Meyers tells Olivia. Except she’s also a murderer. Spoiler alert: it turns out she was the one who, in a fit of jealousy, killed Desiree.
Choice one-liner: “By day he represents the great state of Washington in our nation's highest legislative body. By night, he’s a perving sexting pervy perv.”
"LAW AND ORDER: SVU"
Episode title: October Surprise
Synopsis: Alexander Muñoz is a former community organizer turned state senator who is on track to become mayor of New York. But ten days before the election, a sexting scandal breaks. Not only has he been sending graphic snaps (“the full Muñoz,” as one detective calls it), but he's also been dishing out plum patronage jobs to his digital mistresses.
Sexting pseudonym: Enrique Trouble
Sextee: Lindsay Anderson (played by Annaleigh Ashford, sassy prostitute Betty from “Masters of Sex”), a blonde whose interests include plunging necklines and electronic cigarettes
Sextnology of choice: Shadowy corners of the Internet such as covertchats.com, secretscanbefun.com, and behindcloseddoors.com
The Good Wife: The poised and popular Yelena Muñoz, who, we learn, once had a fling with the D.A. currently digging for dirt on Muñoz (Raúl Esparza). Evidence of her no-nonsense spirit includes lines like “My husband didn’t marry a fool.”
Choice one-liners: “This could just be the tip of the iceberg.” "I think we saw more than just the tip."
Verdict: "Scandal" was typically graceful, intense, and well-plotted, but "Law and Order" did a better job of capturing the sleazy lameness and farcical extremes of Weinergate—the sad parade of crotch shots, the feats of self-delusion required to keep his ego afloat. Also, the murder subplot on "Scandal" was a buzzkill. SVU, meanwhile, managed to maintain an atmosphere of absurdity that felt nicely reminiscent of media coverage of the real Weiner. “I think that’s his porno name,” said one detective as they gathered around the computer to ogle Enrique Trouble’s incriminating selfies. Another replied: “Cmon, this can’t be real.”