Thursday, February 10, 2005

TV Themes

I don't mean songs. I mean a distinct theme or idea that presented itself on two of my favorite shows this past week: Law and Order: SVU and CSI. It is a dramatic indulgence of my fascination for forensic science.

The rerun of SVU had a case of mistaken identity and murder surrounding mail order brides (twins). CSI started with a dead body in the desert who turned out to be a mail order bride murdered by her abusive husband (who had since re-married to another mail order bride. To keep her figure, he had padlocks on the cabinets and fridge; he had no phone in the house for her to use.)

Theme 1: Men are jerks.

Here is the altercation between Catherine Willows, Sara Sidel and Mr. Melton (ex-husband of one of the victims and as we find out later, her muderer):
Catherine: Have a seat Mr. Melton.
Melton: I married Jun about a year after Svetlana left.

Catherine: And when was the last time you saw Svetlana?
Melton: It was about 2 years ago. She didn't come home one night. Next thing I know, the cops are knocking down my door. I thought something had happened to her but they were there to arrest me for hitting her.
Sara: Are you saying that you didn't?
Melton: We were married for three years. I never hit her.
Sara: Why would she lie?
Melton: I don't know.
Catherine: And then what happened?
Melton: After that I was done. I went looking for her to sign the divorce papers but it was like she fell off the face of the earth...
Sara: Or got buried a few feet under it?
Melton: I took our ads in the newspaper every day for a month. She never responded.
Catherine: Yet you didn't file a missing persons report.
Melton: I had been accused of abuse. How would that look?
Sara: You seem to care alot about how things look, Mr. Melton.

Catherine: We are going to need a list of Svetlana's friends and family.
Melton: She didn't have any.
Sara: She spawned from nothingness?
Melton: Her parents died in some kind of industrial accident in Odessa.
Catherine: Russia?
Melton: Yeah.
Catherine: How did you two meet?
Melton: We met through an agency.
Sara: Svetlana was a mail order bride?

Melton: We were introduced through an agency.
Sara: What happened? The Russian agency denied your application for another wife? Or you just lost your taste for white meat? Too tough?

Melton: You know what lady, I am not going to feel bad about my decision. I dated American women like you. They don't want to be anyone's wife or mother. You mention the word 'domestic' and they are done with you. It's nice to be needed and not resented.
Sara: I find isolation and dependancy really sexy too.
Melton: You can think whatever the hell you want.
And the episode goes on.. Sara and Catherine fight about the use of sexuality in the workplace, we find out that marriage is a contract with the state and about protecting future assests (via Chloe the Match Maker who "brings Keiv to you"), Mr. Melton was abusive and Svetlana wanted out.. that Svetlana asked her lover, Ken to beat her up to fast track her divorce.. and that Mr. Melton beat her up and killed her. When he is arrested, it leaves poor Jun to go work in Chloe the Match Maker's salon until she finds another husband.

Sara is the the personification of the educated American woman/witch. They've been working on this development in her character for at least a year. She's pushy, agressive, arrogant, has no life outside of work - like a man with boobs and minus a penis.

Theme 2: Foreign women are gold diggers/compliant/docile/greedy.

In the episode of SVU, the girl they thought was dead bounced from boyfriend to boyfriend getting expensive gifts and when she found someone with more money, she moved on. The sister stayed at home to take care of kids and make dinner. And then girl 1 finds girl 2 dead and assumes girl 2's identity and life.

Girl 1 is a gold digger. Girl 2 is the happy homemaker.

Then girl 1's body is found and ruins everything for girl 2 who steals everything from her husband and goes on the run. But... not to where we think. She goes to the agency that matched them up 5 years before to buy her sister's freedom from forced prostitution because her husband returned her in the 90 day trial period and got his money back. Whew.

Girl 3 is a prostitute. Are we seeing any stereotypes about Eastern European women here?

So, the Empress's advice to those seeking a foreign bride: Don't watch CSI or Law and Order.