Investigation Discovery’s series Scorned: Love Kills launched its first season in 2012 with an ambitious 20 episodes. In the 5 seasons since, the show has never backed away from or apologized for its original premise of zeroing on crimes of passions—murders that certainly did not entail the kind of callous, unfeeling psychosis that has come to characterize some of our culture’s better-known maniacs, like Dexter or Hannibal Lector. The true stories of homicide by the real people featured in Scorned were committed by those who, perhaps, loved too much.
Make no mistake—voyeurism was always the objective of the creators of SLK. Rarely can an image be found advertising an episode that doesn’t feature sexy lingerie, satin sheets, and compromising positions. And like the advertising for virtually all pornography, the central focus is the woman, much to the frustration of some of the show’s female fans and bloggers.
The more steamy the story, the more obsessed the writers and producers of Scorned to craft a script. No provocative theme is off limits. If it involves swingers clubs, prostitutes, fetishes, rape, threesomes, opposite gender attractions (the more befuddled the better), or even affairs between underage teens and adults, the material is considered golden—so long as it ends in murder. Of particular interest every season is at least one episode documenting the downfall of a religious figure (or this person’s spouse). It doesn’t matter if it’s a priest, rabbi, or pastor (although an imam has never been explored). It doesn’t matter if the religionist is the cuckold, the adulterer, or the killer, so long as they are somehow represented as a hypocrite. This is so often the kind of fodder that an audience of this kind of sensual intrigue wants reinforced that it is practically a cliché.
Initially produced for the Investigation Discovery Channel by Optomen Films and helmed by a list of executive producers with a long list of successful documentary credits, including Dianna Sperrazza (On the Case with Paula Zahn), Dominic Stobart (Mysteries at the Museum), Nicola Moody (Monsters Inside Me), and Stephen McLaughlin (Monsters Inside Me) only Stephen McLaughlin stuck it out for any determined length of time. Then, in 2015, even he moved on to executive produce the series Land Rush.
Although such behind-the-scenes overhauls are not uncommon inside the mechanized army of any television show, it often indicates that along with the departure of those with the original “vision” that carried the series to success, is a departure of whatever dynamic led to its success in the first place. It’s noteworthy that the last two seasons of Scorned have produced only half as many episodes. Is this because ratings have dropped? Because its budget has been slashed? Is the Investigation Discovery Channel flooded by complaints about the show’s content? Hey, it’s possible. No, it’s not likely that a show would be cancelled if it’s still bringing in a substantial paycheck for its network. But in the face of other complications, gripes about too many bedroom scenes and “built-in” lingerie advertisements could add to the detritus indicating that a show’s days are numbered. Only those “in the know” really know.
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