TV's Law & Order is a long-running problem

April 24, 2024

by Avi Green

For nearly 35 years already, there's been a most unfortunate PC-spawned problem sullying NBC-TV: the series franchise of Law & Order, which officially began in 1990, and later led to at least a few spinoffs like Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. The flagship series originally ran 20 years, far too long, and was recently revived, proving just as insufferable as before. More on which anon.

I'll try to explain my misgivings, and why it's regrettable the franchise begun by the overrated writer/producer Dick Wolf has kept going all these years. And possibly the most significant misgiving to be found with L&O is that, despite any claims to the contrary, it's not realistic.

It was very grating even early in its run. It may not have seemed violent per se, since a lot of such acts took place off screen, but even then, it was tough to endure, and a big problem with the story plots is that, like countless other crime dramas of past decades, especially those broadcast at 10pm, it relied much of the time on the premise of a murder and/or rape, and not so much on the premise of robberies and carjackings, suggesting the producers really underestimated the intelligence of the audience. Seriously, what is so special about TV shows that rely so heavily on the premise of murder and sexual violence? It's done nothing to improve a since deteriorating TV landscape that's become largely irrelevant since the early 2000s.

From an ethnic perspective, it was also very disturbing how, around the 2nd season, there was even an episode where a Jewish businessman was made to look like the baddie in the end who faked a hate crime against Black characters, since it built on some very repellent biases and moral equations. And there were even some episodes in Special Victims Unit in following years that seemed to blame the women.

Now if they're even going to go so far as to resort to victim-blaming, what good is a series like this, truly? It also doesn't help that in 2021, the former cast member Chris Noth was accused of sexual assault by 6 or 7 women, and now, the first quarter of the original series' run is tarnished regardless. In hindsight, Noth's personality, as channeled through L&O, was creepy, and quite a few other film and TV productions he appeared in, including Sex & the City, are now effectively tainted as well. (Must I also point out Sarah Jessica Parker's starring TV show was pretty bad in its own way to boot?)

It also hasn't helped that of recent, two more embarrassments occurred: one, that Special Victims Unit concocted one of the most contrived and offensive allusions to the Gamergate issue, and two, the revived flagship series "addressed" the issue of the Hamas massacre and sexual violence on October 7, 2023, in one of the poorest ways possible, through moral equivalence, refusing to take a clear stand or any kind of call for justice. I must firmly disagree with Israelly Cool, because when they ultimately wind up becoming seriously offensive towards Israel, that just simply renders the whole episode stale, hollow and atrocious. "Both-siding" doesn't help because there's no clear distinctions made, and one of the main defendants who took the Hamas side gets off easily during the subsequent trial.

I could probably also add that, as a comics reader, I'm insulted in hindsight by an early episode where it sounded like one of the co-stars made a condescending remark about comic books (and in producer Wolf's earlier TV show, Miami Vice, there was also a troubling moment in the penultimate episode where it was made to sound like dangerous and armed criminals were comics readers). Somehow, it doesn't surprise me now that such pretentious people could pull such a crude stunt on the side.

So why is L&O still on the air? It hasn't helped TV land one bit with its phony claim to realism. Why, such programs – where they make it sound like "realistic" is literally the equivalent of excellence – have only served to render TV's drama genre all the more tasteless and give it a bad name. I've made an effort in the years since to avoid almost everything Wolf was involved with as a producer/writer, and won't be wasting time on his 1987 movie titled No Man's Land either; most critics took a negative view of it in any event. Wolf's given only so many signs he's one of the worst things that could happen to prime time television in the USA as a producer, and when all his productions are cancelled, it'll be a blessing.

Copyright 2024 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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