‘Ripped from the Headlines’: The Best Episodes From “SVU”

At its core, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” is most known for tackling storylines that are based off real headlines, making the show intriguing as it presents familiar stories in an all-new light. The show follows the cases of the sex crimes division of the New York Police Department. Though the facts are highly dramatized, the basic overview of each real case is addressed, and each episode dives into some heavy subject matter.

Now that it has been renewed for a record setting 21st season, “SVU” has made history as the longest-running primetime drama series in history. It can be overwhelming to navigate through all the episodes of a series with that many episodes. Below, I have outlined some of the can’t miss episodes that have been “ripped from the headlines.”

“American Tragedy,” S:15 E: 2

In a fictitious universe, what if Paula Deen was actually George Zimmerman? Sounds strange? Well, that’s the plot of a memorable season 15 episode. Cybill Shepherd delivers a stellar performance as Southern celebrity chef Jolene Castille, continually adds layers to her character. After Castille fatally shoots an unarmed African American teenager named Mehcad, protests abound. Was Castille’s life really in danger or was this shooting a racially motivated homicide? The plot deepens as controversial stop-and-frisk policies are discussed. Raul Esparza enamors the audience, as ADA Barba, and Jeffrey Tambor makes a guest appearance as Castille’s defense attorney, Counselor Cohen.

“Devastating Story”, S:16, E:18

This episode was based off the University of Virginia rape case that ended up being a hoax. Was Heather Manning raped by four frat boys, or was she just looking for a way to get on TV and become, in her words, “the face of a movement?” This episode tackles the unfortunate epidemic of rape on college campuses.

Barba does everything he can to bring the accused men to justice, but the ending is definitely a twist. But as Manning’s story continually changes, the truth gets murky.

“Pathological,” S:19, E:10

Remember the unfortunate tale of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her late mother, Dee Dee Blanchard? It involves a case of Munchausen by Proxy, and aside from “SVU,” this story has inspired both a Lifetime movie, called “Love You to Death,” and a new Hulu original series, called “The Act.”

In SVU’s version, a teenager named Mariel is found having sex with her boyfriend Cody. After the detectives determine that it was consensual for both parties, Detective Amanda Rollins can’t help but get a strange vibe from Mariel’s mom, Dawn. Rollins knows that something is not right, and soon, Mariel learns that she is not sick at all. This knowledge, that Dawn has been lying about Mariel’s illnesses, leads to fatal consequences. Rollins saved Mariel from abuse, but did Rollins’ actions inadvertently lead to a different tragedy?

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