This Wednesday, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will air an episode inspired by the Duke Fuck List. We got our hands on the script, penis-size bar graph references and all, and spoke exclusively to the writer and co-executive producer.
While SVU and its progenitor Law & Order often used to do ripped-from-the-headlines (especially the latter), Daniel Truly told me today that it's become a rarer occurrence. That's partly because by the time a show can air, a typical headline's been picked dry on the Internet. Still, the two-month turnaround on SVU's "Lay List" episode (the safe-for-network moniker) offers plenty of new twists, most of which we're sworn to secrecy about.
Why the Fuck List? "I spend an hour before I go to work trolling the dark recesses of the web," says Truly. He was struck by Karen Owen's PowerPoint, he says, because "I thought it was very clever. It was exactly the kind of thing that I would do." He especially liked the contrast between the dryness of the PowerPoint format and the graphic details therein.
There are some major changes: "Caitlin Lamarck" is a twentysomething working at an advertising agency in New York City, who makes the PowerPoint about the employees she sleeps with and then winds up dead at a party. Her list is called "‘My Lay List: A Scholarly Treatise On Office Relationships by Caitlin Lamarck." (Owen's was entitled, "An Education Beyond The Classroom: Excelling In The Realm Of Horizontal Academics.")
Like the real-life Fuck List, though, Lamarck's 32-page document contains a bar graph of score evaluations, though SVU's is specifically penis sizes rather than cumulative scores. "The network said, ‘The bar graphs sort of look like penises,'" says Truly. "We really should have stopped that from happening."
In the episode, Lamarck is found dead at a party, not long after she's angered her friends with the unintended publication of the "Lay List" online. Of course, the guys on the list are questioned, which brings us this exchange:
Truly says he actually liked the fact that no one died in the real Fuck List story. Did he feel bad about inserting violence into that real-life narrative? He says he hopes there are no "hard feelings," and that "I wouldn't have made an episode where she's a terrible person or she's the killer of somebody."
Bonus: Truly also had some nuanced thoughts on how the show generally portrays rape and molestation, and we invited him to expand on them further in a conversation with our readers. He'll be in the comments in a post tomorrow, so mark your calendars.