“Harry’s Law” tackles bullying with an episode about a lesbian teen

Harry’s Law is one of those shows that I wanted to like more than I did last season. But this year, I think it’s finding its footing. As of last night, the show earned its place on my DVR.

“Queen of Snark” tackled the issue of cyber bullying as Harry (Kathy Bates) defends Sela (Sarah Steele), a high school teen who outed lesbian classmate Hannah via her blog “The Snark Queen.” Sela is charged with negligent homicide after Hannah commits suicide.

The wonderful Camryn Manheim guest stars as ADA Kim Mendelsohn, who refuses to reduce the charge; the DA wants to make a statement about the seriousness of gay bashing and cyber bullying. Harry’s defense is that Hannah’s suicide was driven by homophobia in society, not Sela’s blog.

What made this episode so compelling is that, from my perspective, both sides are right. We know the rate of teen suicide due to bullying. Cyber bullying makes the issue more complex because, once you say something online, you can’t take it back. But the blogger’s opinion also reflects her world’s opinion — being LGBT still is a target for hate and discrimination. As Hannah’s mother and best friend testify, we are reminded of our responsibility to create a safe place for teenagers to be out.

“Queen of Snark” was balanced and well done. I hoped to show you clips of the powerful closing arguments on both sides, but NBC has not made them available. Suffice to say that in a story such as this, neither side wins.

The storyline was inspired partly by cast member Brittany Snow, who founded Love is Louder in response to teen suicide last year. Snow’s “It Gets Better” PSA ran during the broadcast Wednesday night.

NBC also took the opportunity to release its own “It Gets Better” video on the Harry’s Law site.

Harry’s Law airs again Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. I encourage you to watch and let us know what you think. If you saw it Wednesday, please share your comments.

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