The Broke Girl’s Guide to ‘Law & Order'

We may be pros when it comes to saving money while living fabulously, but even the best of sales and happy hours can start to add up.  To keep from getting those pesky “Low Balance Threshold” warning emails from Bank of America, we have to quarantine ourselves indoors from time to time.  The Internet must be avoided, as well (God knows how much money we’ve spent during “nights in” with Gilt Groupe and a bottle of cheap wine), so TV is our drug of choice.  Without fail, we spend our self-enforced solitary confinement glued to the screen watching Law & Order marathons, a sort of “bootcamp” during which we tirelessly focus on building our future career as badass detectives.  Few could make leather look as tough-girl-chic as Detective Benson, but this is only one of many things the L&O series has taught us.  Below, we’ve outlined some tips on how to become an expert in Law & Order and impress your friends by solving every case way before ADA Alex Cabot gets involved:

Law & Order marathons happen every weekend:
With very rare holiday exceptions (apparently Memorial Day weekend belonged to NCIS), Law & Order: SVU is on between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday on USA. That’s 10 hours of Law & Order every weekend!  By 11 p.m. on Sunday, you’ll be ready to join the NYPD, or at least fill in for Benson every so often.  (P.S. Stabler’s strangely hot, no? We’d ride around fighting crime with him any day.)

When in doubt, the cause of death is a subdural hematoma:  
Not versed in Law & Order *ME lingo? A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood at the base of the brain.  No matter how many stab wounds the victim may have, it’s pretty safe to say that most of these crimes of passion eventually circle back to head trauma.  Heed this subtextual warning from Law & Order and wear a **(fashionable) helmet any time you find yourself walking alone at night.

District Attorneys are men, Assistant District Attorneys are women:  
We did some research on this, and apparently this is not only a Law & Order-ism, but a historical truth for Manhattan DAs. TBD on whether Law & Order or society will evolve first. Our money is on Dick Wolf.

Dr. George Huang is never wrong:
Dr. George Huang, played by the brilliant BD Wong, is the smartest character on any Law & Order, specifically SVU.  His psychological analyses are always on point, and he’s never fooled by any twist thrown his way.  Read between the lines of his psych analyses, and you’ll always find the real killer.  How he got reassigned to Oklahoma City is beyond us.

The guest star probably did it:
There’s no way that anyone with any significant amount of fame is going to take on a guest-starring role on Law & Order to play anything other than either a) a complete sociopath or b) a martyred hero.  The rule of thumb here is that if they seem charming, they’re the killer, and if they seem evil, they’re the victim.  See John Stamos in Season 12, Episode 22 for reference.

The first twist is the red herring for all episodes aired after 2000:
One twist was enough in Law & Order episodes that aired in the 1990s.  We think it had something to do with the fact that Mr. Big and the dad from Dirty Dancing were leading the investigations.  However, in this new millennium there appears to be a two-twist minimum.  Don’t be fooled by the first “gotcha!” moment.

Never underestimate the criminal power of children:
Spoiler alert: any minors featured on the show who aren’t direct victims of the crime in question did it.

If the episode is preceded with a disclaimer reading: “The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event,” it is 100% based on an actual person and specific event:
The SVU episode where Hilary Duff played Casey Anthony?  The L&O episode based on Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with a prostitution ring? The SVU episode that harkened back to the Duke’s student’s PowerPoint review of her sexual escapades?  Please.  All that disclaimer does is alert audiences that we are about to view a gem ripped from the headlines, with an added Law & Order twist (or three).

*L&O speak translation: ME = medical examiner
**Please don’t wear a “fashionable” helmet.  Just don’t walk down the street alone at night.

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