The Pile and my ‘SVU’ pitches

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Any English teacher can tell you terrifying, traumatizing tales about “The Pile.”

The Pile—for those unfamiliar with the term—refers to the endless stacks of student essays that need to be graded[1]. The truly insidious thing about The Pile is that once it forms, no matter how many essays you grade, it will never cease growing until the course ends.

After voting on Tuesday, I returned home—our school building was being used as a poll location—and decided to spend a Sisyphean afternoon with The Pile as “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”[2] played consecutive reruns for the remainder of the day in the background.

As Captain Olivia Benson was cuffing a perpetrator who was too drunk to remember raping his victim, I was reading a student narrative about a bad break-up. Suddenly, a genuine existential fear of one day dying while circling a comma splice struck me like a bare-knuckled punch from Detective Elliot Stabler.

My mind then began meandering through alternative career options.

Right away, I had to rule out any job that requires me to work with my hands. When it comes any kind of carpentry—or even a simple home repair—I’m as useless as Detective Amanda Rollin’s birth control.

For example, the other day, I attempted to switch out the stopper in the sink, and one would’ve thought I was connecting new homes to the city’s sewer system.

I also had to rule out any kind of customer service position. I’m simply not congenial. When I was an undergraduate at Plymouth State, I tried waiting tables. My nickname was “Mr. 10 Percent.”[3]

Then, while Detective John Munch ripped off a pithy punch-line, something clicked for me.

In some of my better moments, I can write proficiently[4] and I also really enjoy watching “SVU,” so why not write “SVU” teleplays for a living?

So I put away The Pile, grabbed a notebook and started working on Elevator Pitches for new episodes of “SVU.”[5]

Here are my ideas.

Lay & Order SVU needs some fresh ideas. I’ve got a few.

Episode 1: “Body Count”

Sergeant Odafin Tutuola goes undercover in a nightclub where a serial rapist is said to prey on his victims. When he arrives, the ’90s band Body Count, with frontman Ice-T, is playing their controversial song “Cop Killer.” Fin—played by Ice-T—delves into a serious existential crisis. Captain Olivia Benson fixes it while arresting the perp and assuring the victims that it’s “not [their] fault.”

Episode 2: “Lasagna at The Carisi’s[6]

A perp has been breaking into apartments throughout New York City and engaging in sexual intercourse with baked items cooling in ovens. SVU is on the case. Meanwhile, ADA Dominick “Sonny” Carisi and Detective Amanda Rollins are stopping by Carisi’s mother’s house on Staten Island for a lasagna dinner where they plan to announce their engagement. The perp is spotted prowling outside the Carisi residence and arrested by Captain Olivia Benson. Rollins gets pregnant—again—after eating the lasagna.

Episode 3: “The Little Mermaid”

Detective Amanda Rollins goes undercover as a stripper in a Disney-themed strip club in Hell’s Kitchen to set-up the owner, who was accused of raping one of the dancers. The owner dresses as Walt Disney, and after Rollins finishes her pole dance to “Under the Sea” while dressed as Naughty Ariel, the owner calls her into his office and attempts to assault her. Meanwhile, her back-up, Sergeant Fin Tutuola gets caught up performing “Cop Killer” with the house-band Body Count, and Captain Olivia Benson is on vacation in New Hampshire, teaching her son Noah a resting bitch-face. Chaos ensues[7].

While running the risk of hubris, I honestly don’t see how anyone could pass on these rock-solid pitches. So tell all my students that they get A’s and wish me luck in Hollywood.

[1] While The Pile was once an endless pile of printer paper that followed English teachers home and back each day in their bags, these days with technology and grading software, “The Pile” is more abstract. But for analog geezers like me, it’s still a literal stack of papers.

[2] I have expressed my affinity for “SVU” in other columns. I can watch that program in six-hour mindless marathons and never lose interest. The ring-tone on my phone is the theme song.

[3] This is a different story for a different time, my friends.

[4] I have no doubt this statement will be contested.

[5] One of the writers this season shares my surname, and I’m not above nepotism.

[6] I am also of Italian-American heritage (if my surname wasn’t a giveaway), thus I’m allowed make these gross stereotypes.

[7] I only have the premise for this episode. My team of writers and I will need to brainstorm an ending. This could a two-episode season finale.

About this Author


Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Fly Like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: