When Sex and the City ignited on the tube in 1998, a significant part of its appeal was its titillating depiction of women thinking and talking about sex just as intimately (OK, dirtily) as men. Even for pay cable, it was raunchy stuff. Hearing it from teenagers on The Carrie Diaries — one of Carrie’s pals chipperly compares the loss of her virginity to “putting a hot dog in a keyhole” — is unpleasant and unsettling.
Oddly, the show’s best moments come in its poignant portrayal of the family’s hapless attempts to mend the hole at its center. A scene of Carrie and Dorrit silently packing up their mother’s clothes as a dirge-tempo version of Girls Just Want To Have Fun plays on the soundtrack packs a .45-caliber emotional punch.
That same song might serve as the theme for Casey Anthony, the party-girl mom whose casual admission that she was out clubbing and getting tattoos for a month before reporting the disappearance of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, irretrievably poisoned public opinion against her.
When the little girl’s body was discovered a half-mile from home, practically nobody saw the need for a trial: A CBS News poll showed two-thirds of Americans thought Casey was guilty. When an Orlando jury stunned the nation by acquitting her after a two-month trial in 2011, outrage boiled over, most of all among the phalanx of lawyers hosting TV shows where they had ceaselessly assured viewers that a conviction was inevitable.
One of those hosts, Aphrodite Jones, has taken a second look at the evidence presented to the jury and come to a surprising (and courageous) decision: “The jury got it right.” In Monday’s episode of True Crime With Aphrodite Jones, she argues that while Casey Anthony probably did kill her daughter, the evidence fell well short of proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors, Jones says, were arrogant and lazy, especially after learning Casey would be represented by an inexperience attorney. Going for the death penalty — a decision bound to sensitize jurors — they charged her with premeditated murder.
But that was nearly impossible to prove. Caylee’s remains were so decomposed that medical examiners couldn’t even establish the cause of her death, much less the circumstances that led up to it. Prosecutors offered a great deal of evidence that Casey covered up her daughter’s death, but very little about how the death occurred.
And when the defense countered that Caylee died accidentally after being left alone in a swimming pool, and that Casey concealed it for fear she’d be found negligent, prosecutors merely scoffed rather than rebutting with facts. One of the most revealing bits of video in True Crime shows a member of the prosecution team stretched back in his chair, smirking, as defense attorney William Baez argues his case. More sober heads realized that Baez was scoring points. When the jury’s verdict came in, says retired Orlando judge O.H. Heaton Jr., “The judges in the state of Florida were not surprised at all.”
The most profoundly disturbing moments in True Crime come not during its crisp recounting of the courtroom testimony, but in video of the crowds who gathered outside daily calling for Casey’s blood. What kind of parents bring their toddlers to a trial to hold up signs reading “HOW COULD YOU KILL A BABY LIKE ME?” Casey Anthony was undoubtedly a terrible mother. But she’s got plenty of company.