SVU: May December Wanderlust

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By Katiee McKinstry

While I would never condone an adult having sex with a minor, I think it it interesting to dissect those relationship.This episode of SVU highlights those relationships using the concept of love and lust. Benson and Stabler are working on a case that involves a travel writer, living in the home of Annabel and Virginia, landlord to the victim and her daughter. Virginia is Anabel’s teenage daughter, who falls in love with Schiller, the travel writer and Anabel’s tenant. They begin a sexual relationship, where Virginia is able to escape her difficult relationship with her mother. Virginia and Schiller come to an end when Schiller refuses to take Virginia with him traveling, and she kills him for it. DUN DON.

What struck me in this episode is Olivia’s reaction to Schiller and Virginia’s relationship. She confides in Stabler that when she was really young, she fell for someone much older than her. Olivia says that she believes because her father was absent from her life, and she tried to fill that void with a similar figure. “Women fall in love with their fathers” so to speak. Obviously, that is not the case for everyone, but I think it shaped how this murder case was solved. Olivia’s insight led them to Virginia, who eventually confessed. Virginia was completely in love with Schiller, because she found an escape through him from her daily life. Does that make it okay for Schiller, an adult, to have sex with her? Absolutely not.

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When I was 14, I had a boyfriend who was 18. To me, we were only 4 years apart, and I didn’t understand why it was a big deal. 4 years is nothing when your parents are 13 years apart. However, we eventually broke up, due to my parents finding out about the age difference. Whoops. I was upset but still didn’t understand why it was an issue. Now, as a sexual assault advocate, I understand that if I had had sex with my boyfriend, that would have been considered statutory rape. Similar to Virginia’s relationship with Schiller.  But did that give me license to murder him? Heck no! However, I don’t think Virginia understood that her relationship with Schiller was not consensual. Her love for him was so intense that it had no bounds.

One of my favorite things about SVU is that each episode brings up different conversation topics. In this episode, I think we tackle the definition of consent by highlighting the fact that while Virginia was in love, she was still a victim. We also see Stabler struggle with his daughter Maureen getting older, which clouds his judgement as he sees Virginia as just a victim and not a perp. What we have to consider at the end of the day is that anyone who has sex with a minor is breaking the law. Even if the minor is 17, and their 18th birthday is the next day, they are still a child in the eyes of the court.

Love, especially at a young age, can blind us. I was so blinded by my infatuation with an older guy, that I didn’t see any implications or understand why our relationship was wrong. Neither did Virginia, and she eventually killed the traveler.

Wanderlust, am I right?