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In defense of celebrity train wrecks on 'Law & Order: SVU'

Season 16 | Episode 3 | “Producer’s Backend” | Aired Oct 9, 2014

The formerly popular young actress–turned–staggering mess is the bread and butter of gossip sites and checkout-line rags. They collect drunk-driving arrests, limousine crotch shots, and photo ops in front of courthouses like accessories. We, the public, roll our eyes, proclaim them a “hot mess,” and make GIFs out of them to amuse our followers.

But this week’s episode of SVU asks us to consider, well, why? Why would someone who seemingly had it all (fame, money, Mean Girls, for god’s sake) chuck it away to become YouTube sketch fodder? Maybe it’s not entirely her fault? SVU pretty much blames the mother, which is a little too pat. 

Amara, still in patrolman mode, responds to two hookers fighting in the street. Actually, they’re private citizens who are just dressed like and acting as if they’re hookers. One of them is Tensley Evans (Stevie Lynn Jones), a former child star who is now a professional tabloid cover. “Ratchet hoe” is an accusation thrown at Tensley by her opponent, and I can’t disagree. She’s drunk, has crashed her car into the other gal’s, and drives off while completely ignoring Amaro (it must remind him of his ex). Nick gives chase and pulls her over. Tensley’s novel way of trying to beat the rap is attempted dry-humping and mentioning she likes threesomes. Praise the lord for dash cams (and not just in TV Land, he typed sadly), because Tensley tells the judge that Amaro was all over her like she was Rollins. The footage proves her to be a lying lie-teller of lies. Coincidentally, it clears Amaro to don his Gentleman’s Warehouse suit and start eye-sexin’ Mandy over the big desk in front of the dry-erase board. Amaro is once again a dick!

In a meeting with Tensley and her mom, we realize that Tensley is more playing Lindsay Lohan than Amanda Bynes. She lies, has a drug and alcohol problem, and uses her body like it’s a credit card. If it were Bynes, the character would be tweeting insults to Obama and firebombing her neighbor’s carport. There are gals who need help and then there are GALS WHO NEED HELP (Bynes).

Tensley’s mom is dressed like a 16-year-old, has more hair extensions than her daughter, and is a total enabler. It turns out that the starlet fled rehab right before crashing. When Rollins and the new guy, who is now sans face caterpillar, talk to Rehab Guy, they learn that Tensley is sexually compulsive. And it led her to a rehab broom closet. With a 15-year-old visitor. Whom she pretended was a Blow Pop. Well, part of him. Anyway—statutory rape.

Janice Soprano presides over Tensley’s initial hearing, and orders a psych eval. The shrink defies her confidentiality oath and tells Liv in every way possible without saying “sexually abused” out loud that Tensley has been sexually abused. When they sit her down to talk, we realize that Tensley has been farmed out to perv producers by her mom at a very early age in exchange for celebrity. As Liv puts it later, she isn’t even aware that she was victimized. Evans denies that she was raped, and says that it was all consensual. Oh, and Mom knew, ‘cuz she put her on the pill when she was 13. This was shortly after her first “audition.” Which was at a pool party. You know, I auditioned for something once when I was a kid, and I don’t recall having to wear a bikini. Tensley names tween superstar movie producer Adam Brubeck (Brian d’Arcy James) as the ringleader of the perv circus.

Rollins, Amaro, and No Mustache Now Guy roll up on Brubeck’s latest tribute to Pedobear, a bangin’ pool party with way-too-young girls and the 40-year-olds who enjoy fondling them.

Brubeck is scum, his lawyer is scum, his Arabian Knights-themed poolside diddler tent is scum, it’s all scum. Have some sushi on your way out, always love when the NYPD stops by. Brubeck has left a trail of broken starlets behind him (one of them ended up a robber, so I guess she’s the Amanda Bynes stand-in). Another one of them starred in a porn with the incredible title of The Milf of Wall Street. Kudos, SVU writing team. His dark past includes a drowning death at one of his parties that, according to Tensley’s former fiancé, traumatized Tensley. The Zac Efron stand-in’s take on it? “Totally sucked, bro.” Oh dear.

When Liv and crew go to Tensley about her friend’s drowning death, she responds by locking herself in the bathroom and filleting her wrists. Think she might know something? She finally confesses all to Liv once she’s back in rehab. It’s an exceptionally seedy story. Let’s just say Brubeck liked his drug-addled underage starlets to scuba dive near him in the pool when he had no pants on? There goes the pizza slice I just ate. Anyway, Tensley’s friend died.

Sadly, it doesn’t matter. Between a statute of limitations (I can’t believe this is a thing) and Brubeck purposely filming his movies in states with lower ages of consent, he’s insulated himself from prosecution. He’s got them licked. Oh wait, is that an audition disc from Canada?

Oh, and about the audition tapes this guy made and our detectives watch—ugh. Dude was making girls act like cats and do splits. “Bounce for me.” OK, I’m out. Someone lock up after me. I need to take a scorching hot shower and ponder whether there’s any good in the world.

Luckily, at least in the L&O universe, there is. The script that Brubeck filed for the audition for the movie in Canada he never made? It’s merely a piece of paper modeled after Nicholson’s literary output during his stay at the Overlook in The Shining.

We’re suddenly in Winnipeg, talking to a traumatized waitress who auditioned for this fake film. Brubeck told her she was perfect to play a “gymnast with cancer.” Thanks? I’m not sure that’s a compliment, honey. Anyway, he used her and tossed her away. Pedobear isn’t the brightest Ursidae at the zoo, because what he did amounts to sex tourism. Which is illegal. Say hello to 30 years in prison, gross guy.

As for Tensley? She goes on the HODA! show with Hoda Kotb (I love that they gave Hoda her own show, minus the lush she’s forced to sit next to. Campaign for the real thing, Hoda!). She reveals that she’s sober and appearing in an arc on Orange Is the New Black. Hopefully she fired her momager, a woman who pronounced insinuating as “insimulating.”

The episode ends on a sour note, however. Liv’s foster baby, Noah, is in the ER! Fade to black. Yikes!

I’m not gonna lie. The next time I see Lilo or Amanda or even Taradise stumbling across TMZ, I might actually put my judge gun away and cut them some slack. Thanks, SVU! #OneToGrowOn *Cue rainbow star falling across TV screen.*

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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