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Hair Wings and a Gun: Olivia Benson


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#1

captain sam

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Posted Mar 7, 2005 @ 6:46 PM

Olivia Benson as feminist protagonist: a weak attempt at pandering to the image of the "strong woman" by Dick Wolf or the genuine article? Does the constant femme-inization of her character grate, or is it a natural extension of her role as a woman and cop? (I think we all know the answer to that one.) And most importantly, wasn't that blue v-neck she was wearing the other day totally Hot?
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#2

Sing1118

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Posted Mar 7, 2005 @ 9:18 PM

Also, what about her gaydar pingingness?

Benson: hot. And I love the sky-blue and dark blue v-necks.
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#3

Benito

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Posted Mar 7, 2005 @ 11:37 PM

I liked her a lot more when the show first started. Somehow the "hot" has been watered down over time as they've tried to paint around the corners of her character to "explain" her (a Dick Wolf specialty, although also used by the CSI shows).

Honestly I've been so bored with L&O SVU the past few years that I feel like Richard Belzer after the last joint has been used up.
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#4

medicminx

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 2:06 AM

sky-blue and dark blue v-necks.

Not to mention a certain tangerine tie dye long sleeved cotton shrunken pullover.
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#5

tereza

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 6:49 AM

Gaydar? I never would've thought she was a lesbian. Why do you think she pings the gaydar? Because she isn't seen with men?
Or because she doesn't take crap?

Really, I am just curious.
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#6

alexj

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 7:38 AM

She's a lesbian? Since when? I'm stuck watching reruns of season 1 and 2 on the European Hallmark channel, so i'm very behind.
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#7

Sing1118

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 8:40 AM

I cannot explain why it is that she pings my gaydar, but I guess it's just a lot of litle things. You know, why anyone would ping gaydar. Anyway, LMurphy made a list a looong time ago, and here it is:

"Top Ten Reasons Why We Think Olivia Is A Lesbian"

1) She has zero chemistry with any man they've shown her as dating, and those relationships never turn into much more than one-night stands. In fact, one of her exes was closeted himself, namely Jeff York from "Lowdown."
2) It was implied in a Season 1 episode (I can't recall the title) where a gallery owner, in discussing his wife's extramarital bisexuality, says to Benson, "I should give you her number" while giving her the eye.
3) The outfits, the hair, and the big honkin' gun. Need we say more?
4) The sparks (see also "HoYay") she generates with just about any female character (Alex, Warner, the training sergeant from "Paranoia", the list goes on...)
5) Alex. (In fact, there's a video over on Baby Lurches that chronicles just about all of the classic HoYay moments between the ADA and the detective.)
6) In "Angels," Alex goes on a date with Trevor Langdon, only to have the detectives show up at the restaurant to get a warrant. Olivia spends several long, loving moments eyeing Alex's dress and looking at Trevor with disgust, and a hint of jealousy.
7) The last five minutes of "Loss." If this doesn't scream HoYay, we don't know what does.
8) Casey, who we're pretty sure is either bisexual or a lesbian (it was implied in "Abomination"; see also "softball"), hangs all over her like a cheap suit.
9) Cases with an LGBT victim are second only to cases with a child-rape angle on Olivia's Take!It!Personally! tally. See "Fallacy" and "Abomination" for examples.
10) Intangibles. For whatever reason, the character just pings really, really loud on a lot of people's gaydar.


I would like to add the hotel scene of Ghost to the list. In spite of all the manvils (when Alex is talking about her boyfriend in Wisconsin in a Pot Weasely attempt to discourage all of us VLFs), the HoYay is off the scale.

Edited by Sing1118, Mar 8, 2005 @ 8:42 AM.

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#8

tereza

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 9:33 AM

Okay, Sing1118,

Some of your arguments I can't fight with, some I would like to give my feedback and another point of view. Since you posted that list and you probably agree with it, otherwise you wouldn't use as an argument, I will reply about the list.

1) She has zero chemistry with any man they've shown her as dating, and those relationships never turn into much more than one-night stands. In fact, one of her exes was closeted himself, namely Jeff York from "Lowdown."


That doesn't mean a thing. Maybe she just has issues with men, with intimacy and with trust but that doesn't mean she isn't sexually attracted to men. In fact, probably 95% of the population has relationships issues and you can count on your hand the health, non baggage and no man/woman issues relationships. About she having only one-night stands, it's probably because it's safer, you don't need to actually build a relationship with the other person. Some people carry on one-night stands because they are fun, some because, even with all their men issue (like Olivia) they still have that sexual need and that's fine. And about this guy being gay, also a safer choice. He can't treat her if he is gay. Probably she knew that when she dated him and that's why she chose him. And, btw, I see wonderful chemistry with her and Elliot.

2) It was implied in a Season 1 episode (I can't recall the title) where a gallery owner, in discussing his wife's extramarital bisexuality, says to Benson, "I should give you her number" while giving her the eye.


I can't argument with that since I didn't watch the episode. But also, that could very well fall in the steriotype cathegory. He sees her, she's a cop, she carries on a "don't come close" face, she got be a dickie. Or maybe he did that just to see if he could push some buttons.

3) The outfits, the hair, and the big honkin' gun. Need we say more?


That's steriotyped. And sad, because as long as people carry on this pre-judgmental mentality and this steriotyped thoughts, then society will never be open to trutly compreend the other person.

4) The sparks (see also "HoYay") she generates with just about any female character (Alex, Warner, the training sergeant from "Paranoia", the list goes on...)


Never saw it, can't comment. But, as I already said, I think she has great spark with Elliot and having chemistry with this person or that person doens't necessary mean you're sexually attracted to then, just means you fell more confortable to talk to then.

5) Alex. (In fact, there's a video over on Baby Lurches that chronicles just about all of the classic HoYay moments between the ADA and the detective.)


Oh, come on. Some people are shippers for Ryan and Seth on the O.C. and they can probably come up with a lot of reasons that they do, in fact, are into each other. Same way as shippers for Alex and Olivia.

6) In "Angels," Alex goes on a date with Trevor Langdon, only to have the detectives show up at the restaurant to get a warrant. Olivia spends several long, loving moments eyeing Alex's dress and looking at Trevor with disgust, and a hint of jealousy.


Never saw this episode, when I watch it I will comment on that. But, I have noticed Olivia has this habit of eyeing for very long time someone or something. And I recognize that as a angry look, kind of being very alert looking for something. Probably comes with the job, this detective eye.

7) The last five minutes of "Loss." If this doesn't scream HoYay, we don't know what does.


Never saw it. But shippers then to see any kind of "moment" in anything to proof that those people they rule for, in fact, do want to be with each other.

8) Casey, who we're pretty sure is either bisexual or a lesbian (it was implied in "Abomination"; see also "softball"), hangs all over her like a cheap suit.


And that means what? That, since Casey is gay or bisexual, she has this wonderful gaydar and only is sexually attracted with lesbian girls she can ID from afar? That's steriotype. Woman do this all the time, there are plenty of gay guys that we wish were straight, since we would like to get then on the sack. Can't lesbians do the same? Can't they lust over someone who's straight? Come on...

9) Cases with an LGBT victim are second only to cases with a child-rape angle on Olivia's Take!It!Personally! tally. See "Fallacy" and "Abomination" for examples.


I take that as a personal opnion, not counting as a fact at all.

So, what do you think?
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#9

Sing1118

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 10:39 AM

Well, like I said, it's not my list, though I do mostly agree with it. You're perfectly entitled to your own opinion, but I do have to say that it's hard to pass judgement on the HoYay if you haven't seen Loss or Ghost.
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#10

captain sam

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 10:55 AM

3)The outfits, the hair, and the big honkin' gun. Need we say more?

That's steriotyped. And sad, because as long as people carry on this pre-judgmental mentality and this steriotyped thoughts, then society will never be open to trutly compreend the other person.


Was it stereotyped? A little, yes. Was it done with malice? Absolutely not. As you might've noticed, the aforementioned list was made somewhat tongue-in-cheek (I presume. Smack me down if you meant otherwise, LMurphy). And as long as we're on the subject of being truly open to comprehending others, I believe that the idea of Olivia being a lesbian is just as valid as Olivia being straight (perhaps even more so, based upon the zero chemistry with men and the crazy chemistry with everyone else). There always seems to be such an...intense reaction to the suggestion, and I wonder what it is that people find so objectionable about the thought of Olivia being gay, or (gasp) bisexual.

I admit that being open to all possibilities swings both ways (hee). Yes, Olivia exhibits traditionally masculine traits. Yes, she butched it up so much between seasons 2-4 that I nearly passed out. Yes, all of her relationships with men have, to put it delicately, failed miserably. Does this all point definitively to being a great big Lesbo? I must admit...no. Until she comes out and says it herself, it's not definite. She could simply be a straight woman who enjoys being her own person. But under the weight of the circumstantial evidence, there is definitely a strong case for Olivia being gay, or at the very least, "flexible." To dismiss any of the evidence, especially having not witnessed the scorching HoYay! of Ghost or Loss is, in my opinion, hasty.

So let's all be open to the possibility, huh?

ETA: I must make a distinction here between Olivia as Dick Wolf intended her and Olivia as Olivia, the character itself. Dick Wolf's Olivia is probably the straightest straight woman to ever exist in the history of straightness. We all know how he tends to treat issues of homosexuality within his leading cast. However, the character of Olivia Benson pings my gaydar so hard that I have take it a down notch, lest I be overwhelmed by her pinging.

tereza, if you really feel like expanding your horizons, you can go to Sally Forth's website, which contains several essays concerning the question of Olivia's orientation.

Edited by captain sam, Mar 8, 2005 @ 11:04 AM.

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#11

Greenly

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 12:40 PM

I agree that, as captain sam put it, there is a strong case for Olivia being gay, and I agree with the points on LMurphy's list.
Terenza, I understand how valid counterarguments could be made for some of the items on that list, if each item was examined separately... but in my eyes, there are just so many reasons why Olivia seems gay, that they all add up and can't be dismissed so easily. Especially if you haven't seen many of the episodes/scenes in question.

[Reluctantly deleting the rest of my post, because I was going all meta, but I can't fully answer the question without doing so. Grr.]

Edited by Greenly, Mar 8, 2005 @ 1:35 PM.

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#12

Mayonnaise

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 1:18 PM

sky-blue and dark blue v-necks.

Not to mention a certain tangerine tie dye long sleeved cotton shrunken pullover.

Let us not forget the Red V-neck White T-Shirt Combination.

Olivia pings people's individual gaydar!

*Nods.* My new GF *Snuggles her,* watched with me last week... and even with the hairwings, and the Stabler-centric Episode, she picked up on something almost immediatly, whether deliberate or circumstantialy a part of the charactor. She claims it was in Liv's eyes... but she tends toward metaphysical explinations for things so yesh... *Shrigs.*

I've always thought she probably swung both ways... lots of people have bad relationships with men... don't make em lesbians... and lots of bisexual people try to date men more, because it's easier than dealing with the stigma of dating another woman... but that could just be me projecting on Liv. That said... I do think there was something there with Alex. *Pats them.*
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#13

anomalys

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 2:20 PM

Let us not forget the Red V-neck White T-Shirt Combination.

Ah, my favorite. Liv's v-neck/t-shirt layered look of Seasons 3 & 4 (along with the ultra-short hair) made me a shallow viewer. Add the leather jacket... and I'll forgive her just about any cringent character moment.

Disasterous, chemistryless hook-ups with men aside... even without the A/Oyay... Olivia just comes across as so gay. So gay. It's not one thing... it's the whole package. Though her closet is quite comfortable. And specially built to hold that cache of coats.

(My "so gay" includes bisexuality too... because the more the merrier.)

Whatever she's supposed to be canonically... all I know is this...

O!livia Bension = lesbian fulcrum. (And that's just fine by me. Heh.)
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#14

captain sam

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 2:41 PM

What is about those jackets? I want to take all her jackets, throw them in a pile, and then jump on them.

There's the black leather, the brown-leather/vinyl with oversize collar (which I haaaaaate), the quilted black knee-length from this season, the tan fleece-lined from "Guilt" (over a plain white undershirt? scorching.), the green hip-length with collar from "Conscience," the black double-breasted pea coat from "Ghost," the traditional black wool trench from season 1, the knee-length trench from "Birthright," black and blue hoodies, and...oh, I give up.

Edited by captain sam, Mar 8, 2005 @ 2:46 PM.

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#15

Sing1118

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 3:20 PM

What is about those jackets? I want to take all her jackets, throw them in a pile, and then jump on them.

Yes indeed.
She also had a brown leather jacket that didn't have an oversize collar- it looked just like the black one, only brown.
And then there was the hip-length leather jacket she wore when she went to the park to meet White in Stalked, and the hip-length dark blue jacket from S2 and S3 that sort of matches Alex's Blue Suit of Ass-Kicking and Name-Taking.

I can't believe I forgot the red/white layered duo. That pair, with the butch hair and the long brown leather jacket is the sexiest of all sexy outfits they could ever put her in. Plus the gray trousers. I love her long coats (for some reason, knee length is really hot), but I also love when she's not wearing a coat and turns around and walks away from the camera because she always has fitted trousers on. That, plus the cuffs and the Glock and the ammo on her belt? Mekes me a little... lightheaded. ::fans self::

Edited by Sing1118, Mar 8, 2005 @ 3:23 PM.

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#16

paradiddle

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Posted Mar 8, 2005 @ 4:55 PM

It amazes me that as 'femme' as MH is supposidly in front of the media, that she can turn so butch for the cameras. I know she's an actress, but she has the male mannerisms down to a T.

I hope she gets a really bad streak job and has to chop off her hair/hairwings so we can get her back to the Season 3 cut. Did I say that? LOL
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#17

KillingTime

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 10:21 AM

Heh. I noticed on one of the lists that someone caught Liv's address and salary when they showed the SuperGoogle screen.

300 W. 99th Street
NY, NY 10024

Annual salary is $55,000.

Is this the PW's way of giving us info about the characters now?

Edited to fix the salary error

Edited by KillingTime, Mar 9, 2005 @ 7:32 PM.

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#18

captain sam

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 11:21 AM

I thought her salary said $55,000? This made sense to me, because I think Stabler's salary was listed as $60,000, and he's been on the force longer than she has. I'll just go...rewatch the episode.

It also listed her SSN, for those of us who have ever wanted to steal Olivia Benson's identity. Ahem.

ETA: Confirmed. $55,000. You should ask for a raise, Liv.

Edited by captain sam, Mar 9, 2005 @ 11:23 AM.

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#19

spacedog

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 11:33 AM

Okay, let me get this straight: Benson makes $55,000 a year, yet lives on the Upper West Side and wears all those none-too-cheap jackets? She is so on the take.
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#20

notoriousmeg

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 11:41 AM

Had to post just to thank whoever made that excellent Olivia/Alex video. Highly entertaining, thanks!

She could be supplementing her salary with overtime, I've heard a lot of NYPD counts on OT pay.
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#21

FrightenedAuk

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 12:19 PM

I'd say she gets a lot of overtime pay, as we all know One Tomato Benson has no mistress but her job. Anymore, that is. I'm sure a lot of those hot jackets were presents from Alex.
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#22

captain sam

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 1:22 PM

In a previous episode (season 4? season 5?), Elliot intimates that he makes approxmiately 65-68,000 with OT, so that's five to eight thousand more than his regular salary. I'm guessing Olivia makes about the same in OT, so her salary is actually somewhere in the $60,000 range. I'm not sure about tax laws regarding OT or civil servants, but after taxes...come on. Upper West Side? Maybe she inherited all of Alex's [supposed] money. Maybe mom was rich? Stabler said once that Ma Benson was successful, if drunk.
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#23

Sing1118

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 1:48 PM

Upper West Side, what? This feels weird to me because it's pretty much fanon that Olivia lives downtown. Which would, you know, make sense. Not that logic ever stopped the PWs.
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#24

KillingTime

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 2:25 PM

Confirmed. $55,000. You should ask for a raise, Liv.


Thanks for checking the facts Captain Sam


Upper West Side

Considering they mention or do long interrogations, she should be racking up some major OT. Who knows, the next thing they may reveal on the one of those wealth of information screens is she won the NY lotto or something.
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#25

tenblade

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 5:14 PM

Has Olivia recently moved? I could have sworn that in one episode (Stalked?) Elliott referred to coming across the Queensboro bridge (which is at 59th) and having to go downtown to Olivia's apartment. I could be wrong, but I never, ever would have pegged Olivia for an upper west sider.
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#26

Learned Hand

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 5:25 PM

tenblade, your memory is correct -- but pot makes you do funny things, because in the first season Olivia also managed to live on the Upper East Side. In "A Single Life" aka The One with the One Tomato, she is on her way home (and the bodega owner clearly knows her as a regular) when she comes across the scene of the victim's "murder". The vic's address is on the upper east, and much mention is made of how sterile and eeeevil it is up there.

I guess O-livia is making the rounds of the city. With her sad, sad single bed.
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#27

Idiotboy

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Posted Mar 9, 2005 @ 7:25 PM

Great thread title. And of the two, I'd reckon that the hair wings are the more lethal weapon—downright scary in the infamous Leno segment.
Amid all the discussion of O!livia's coat rack, I'm surprised that her large and enviable collection of Scarves of Uselessness has not been mentioned. (The record so far is three different scarves in one episode.) My pet theory is that either Alex or O!livia is allergic to roses, so whenever A/O have had a lovers' quarrel, Cabot gives Benson another scarf as a peace offering.
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#28

UltraViolet730

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Posted Mar 10, 2005 @ 12:14 AM

Confirmed. $55,000. You should ask for a raise, Liv.

According to this site with info on average NYPD salaries:

1 in 6 uniformed members of the NYPD are Detectives. A Detective’s (3rd Grade) average earning is $88,000* (Promotion to Detective is not based on a promotional exam, it’s based on merit)

*These salaries include base salary, average overtime and night shift differential, holiday pay, and uniform allowance. The above ranks do enjoy the same additional benefits described above.


There used to be a blurb somewhere about Benson and Stabler's grade level, but I can't find it. I think after one episode, they were allegedly promoted, Stabler to Detective first-grade, and Olivia, second-grade. So each of them is making a lot more than their base salaries indicate.

Different topic - Olivia looked gorgeous in the rerun of Soulless tonight. I can never decide between S3 and S4 for favorite Benson look, but tonight, I'm leaning to the end of S4.

Edited by UltraViolet730, Mar 10, 2005 @ 12:16 AM.

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#29

medicminx

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Posted Mar 10, 2005 @ 2:19 AM

I'm leaning to the end of S4

I caught that episode tonight and I couldn't agree more; damn, she looks fine. IRT the shopping and salary thing: she could do a lot of outlet shopping. Or, yeah, gifts from Alex!
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#30

aughra

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Posted Mar 10, 2005 @ 8:33 AM

Did anyone read the Entertainment Weekly cover story on L&O a week back? In the article MH says she read something about Benson's backstory in a script that completely illuminated her character. Did that ep air yet? What the heck was that about? I want to know. Did I miss something? Ahhhh!
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