The other night I found myself transfixed by an episode of Law and Order. Actually, I wasn't truly transfixed; I was so awash in torpor that I could scarcely raise the remote control. Actually, I wasn't awash in torpor; I was immobilized by the hypnotic rhythmic bobble of Sam Waterston's head. But that's not important right now.
What's important is that I was watching Law and Order, an episode called "Scrambled." The episode opens with a woman lying conscious on a gurney, husband smoothing back her sweat-dampened hair, while an off-screen doctor's voice counts, "11...12...13...your ovaries are nice and supple."
The husband is then instructed to go "do his part" "There are magazines," the doctor kindly informs him, then returns to his delicate ovum-plucking.
We soon learn that in this elite fertility clinic, an embryologist has been killed by an intruder who has invaded the lab, conked her on the head with a tank of liquid nitrogen, and emptied a bunch of frozen embryos into the stainless steel sink.
Hilarity subsequently ensues.
As the minutes passed and the case unfolded, I found myself getting more and more incensed. I get so angry when I see the inaccuracies that riddle any dramatic treatment of infertility. This episode alone included the following egregious errors:
- Lieutenant Van Buren confides that her sister pursued fertility treatment. Detective Curtis, who is opposed to assisted reproduction, suggests, "Maybe she just wasn't meant to have a baby." Van Buren does not seize the nearest blunt instrument and cave in the side of his skull with a single powerhouse blow.
- The husband of the patient in the opening scene is lovingly soothing her instead of a) chewing his fingernails past the bloody quick; b) loudly and self-importantly fielding business calls on his cell phone in the waiting room; or c) worrying aloud about whether he'll be able to achieve erection and orgasm on demand.
The patient is a) fully conscious; b) entirely lucid; c) in no apparent discomfort; and d) not raving deliriously about the desperate crush she has on the doctor who is, even now, perforating her vagina with dozens of tiny needle holes.
- The receptionist at the top-tier fertility clinic is warm and friendly, with a comforting motherly air. One gets the distinct impression that she returns calls promptly and passes messages on accurately.
- A couple have a daughter as the result of IVF. Nine years after her birth, they appear to have recovered entirely from the emotional and financial strain.
- Briscoe works with grim determination to ejaculate into a cup. Because Jerry Orbach is a consummate actor, his penis is convincing, responding to his panicked manual blandishments with realistic sluggishness, but the cup is marked with measurements in hectares instead of the more conventional mL/cc.
Additionally, the room in which he is sequestered includes no toilet.
I don't know about you, but I demand more realism from my courtroom dramas.