Law & Order tackles a Gabby Petito style case as another example of their ripped from the headlines plots to comment on current events.
Law & Order season 21 episode 3’s trailer shows the episode will feature a case inspired by the murder of Gabby Petito. Petito was allegedly murdered by her fiance Brian Laundrie in August 2021 while the two were on a van journey across the country. The case received extensive coverage from the media and high amounts of public interest due to the couple’s social media exposure and unusual details of the case itself.
Law & Order follows the investigation of crimes and prosecution of defendants and became notorious during its early seasons for taking cases “ripped from the headlines” such as the Bernhard Goetz shooting and the murder of Edmund Perry. The season 21 premiere continues this practice by featuring a case with parallels to the legal issues of Bill Cosby. Law & Order season 21 comes nearly 12 years after the show’s previous season, with creator Dick Wolf returning to write the premiere.
The trailer (via TV Promos) shows brief snippets of dialogue from the episode that are meant to invoke the Petito case, such as the victim’s social media presence and the appearance of a van with blood on the exterior. A character also mentions the case’s notoriety on the internet, further channeling the media frenzy that surrounded the investigation. The trailer also features the phrase “ripped from the headlines” to make it clear the show is invoking the case. Watch the teaser below:
The revival features veterans of the original Law & Order series such as Anthony Anderson and Sam Waterson reprising their roles, as well as new characters played by Jeffrey Donovan, Camryn Manheim, and Hannibal star Hugh Dancy. The show’s schedule suggests a short turnaround for production, with the Petito case being still fresh in the minds of the public. However, the episode is likely to fictionalize many of the details as it had with the Cosby episode.
It’s always tricky to balance when it becomes acceptable to depict the events of real-life tragedy, whether fictionalized or not. Law & Order runs the risk of exploiting Petito’s murder, while the pain and suffering her family is experiencing remains fresh. Since the details of the real-life case don’t lend themselves to fitting within the Law & Order formula, it’s curious why the producers would try to channel the story. In the end, Law & Order will continue to make episodes based on real life, and will hopefully not be too insensitive to the tragedies that inspired them.
Source: TV Promos
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