Gentlemen, start your dick jokes.
In a glorious coincidence, this week’s primetime schedule featured not one but two TV episodes inspired by the tragedy of serial sexter Anthony Weiner. Both hours – Wednesday’s Law & Order: SVU and Thursday’s Scandal – featured stoic wives, copious crotch shots, and goofy noms de perv – but which best captured the essence of the man who used to be the next mayor of New York City? Let’s go to the videotape! (Don’t worry, it’s only slightly dirty; we’re still talking network TV, after all.)
SVU’s Weiner surrogate is Alejandro Muñoz (Vincent Laresca), a Big Apple hometown hero who grew up in the Bronx, rose from community organizer to state senate, and, as the episode begins, is nearing the end of what looks to be a successful mayoral campaign. He also happens to be an old pal of Raúl Esparza’s D.A. Rafael Barba. (You can tell because they just can’t stop speaking random Spanglish at each other.)
Scandal gives us Richard Meyers, a senator from the Evergreen State who is also working on a campaign, though his seems to be for reelection. While he’s more generic-looking than Muñoz, he’s also got the distinction of being played by Patrick Fabian – a.k.a. Jeremiah Lasky, the dashing (yet creepy) professor who dated Kelly on Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Laresca, by contrast, once played “Big Guy #1” in The Devil’s Advocate. (And, okay, Alejandro on Weeds.)
The bigger Weiner? Both series showed uncharacteristic restraint by not giving their faux-Weiners surnames like Wang or Schlong or Dickandballs, though “Dick” can, of course, be a nickname for Richard. But as much as we love Professor Lasky, this one has to go to SVU for following Weiner’s own career trajectory so closely. When Muñoz is first caught sexting, he even responds by claiming his online presence has been hacked. And Muñoz’s friendship with Barba sort of echoes Weiner’s friendship with his old roommate Jon Stewart, who went easy on the then-congressman during his first scandal in 2011… for one day, anyway.
Muñoz’s esposa is the lovely Yelina. We don’t know much about her, besides the fact that she and Barba also had some sort of a fling back in the barrio. (This ends up being way less important than you think it’s going to be.) She’s played by the awesome Broadway actress Karen Olivo, who won a Tony for her supporting role in the 2009 revival of West Side Story. Anita would never stand for this sh–.
Meyers is wed to Shelley, played by The Office’s Melora Hardin – though her character’s much closer to Alicia Florrick than Jan Levenson. Shelley’s helmet hair and stiff Good Wife grin hide a sharp mind; she’s a partner in a law firm, and as the episode’s ending proves, she’s also an accomplished… drinker of whiskey, if you catch my drift. I could see Shelley joining the staff of Olivia Pope & Associates someday, which is the highest compliment one can give to a slightly evil lawyer.
The bigger Weiner? Neither really has a Huma Abedin thing going on. But since Shelley’s role is meatier and a little more Huma-esque, I’ll go with Scandal.
Weiner, famously, chose “Carlos Danger.” Meyers went with “Redwood Johnson.” And Muñoz – bless his fictional little heart – somehow came up with “ENRIQUE TROUBLE,” an assumed name so fabulous it must only be rendered in all caps.
The bigger Weiner? SVU, duh. I repeat: ENRIQUE TROUBLE.
Muñoz has been paying off a variety of ex-sexting partners he met on websites like “PleasureWithoutConscience.com,” including a stripper, a porn star, and a shoe saleslady so crazy that – get this – she repeatedly texted her shrink, demanding that he “murder her vagina.” (Never change, SVU.) He’s also been giving his ladies cushy government jobs… well, all except the one who happens to be a 15-year-old high school sophomore. EW EW EW EW EW. (And not EW.com.)
Meyers, too, has been sexting a bevy of comely young women, though the charges against him are more serious than those against Muñoz – one of his sext partners, the excellently-named Desiree Oaks, has been bludgeoned to death, and Meyers is the prime suspect. The stuff he’s sending to women seems more extreme than Muñoz’s sexts; at his trial, one girl recalls Meyers telling her to squeeze his, uh, filibusters “until they hit you in the face.” Also, Meyers continues his bad behavior even after the scandal has broken – much like Weiner himself.
The bigger Weiner? This one’s tough; Weiner obviously didn’t murder anybody, but he also never got sexually involved with a child. Because it turns out that Meyers didn’t really kill Desiree but Muñoz did really sext a high school student, let’s give this category to Scandal, by a hair.
When last we see Muñoz, he’s being held on a $10,000 bail – and he’s going to be tried for a variety of offenses, including possession of child pornography. Meyers, however, is eventually found not guilty of Desiree’s murder. But while it’s true that he didn’t kill the girl, Scandal has one last trick up its sleeve: The real culprit is none other than Meyers’ jealous wife Shelley. And she totally got away with it! Seriously, this woman would be a valuable asset to either Olivia’s team, Pope or Benson.
The bigger Weiner? As grossly as Weiner acted, he never actually broke the law. Both episodes, then, are lacking in conclusive Weinerosity – though both series’ stand-ins do refuse to stop campaigning, a la Weiner himself.
Maybe, then, this duel ultimately comes down to a battle of the quips. In this corner, there’s Scandal:
Abby: “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.”
And next, we have SVU:
Detective Amaro: “This could just be the tip of the iceberg!”
Detective Rollins: “I think we saw more than just the tip.”
Law & Order for the win!