John Oliver took a critical look at the Law & authority franchise on sunday Last week tonight.
He started by noting that creator Dick Wolf was a big fan of trawling net as a boy, which inspired him to create his long-running adult TV franchise (after making a series of aviation commercials that are now considered sexist).
After raising concerns that several real-life officers of the law said they learned how to do their job by watching Law & authority and its spin-offs, Oliver turned his attention to Wolf. Oliver noted that Wolf has a “close behind-the-scenes relationship with the NYPD, employing officers as advisors, and bragging about the access he had.”
Quoting an interview with an unnamed writer about the show, he noted that there was a feeling that if the police were portrayed in a negative light, the NYPD “could make it very difficult for us to shoot in New York. “
This “makes sense, doesn’t it?” joked Oliver. “The NYPD is famously against shooting unless they’re the ones doing it.”
As a result of working closely with the police, the franchise gets a number of details accurate, Oliver noted, “such as specific laws, jargon and crime scene procedures. But crucially, it also makes many choices that reflect the big picture of the crime scene.” police significantly.” That always includes arresting the right culprit mid-episode and always seeing justice at the end of the episode, but in reality, Oliver noted, not every case gets resolved and 97 percent of cases never go to trial because of plea deals.
“Clear, Law & authority can’t reflect that reality,” Oliver said. “It would be unclear. Nobody wants to watch a show where 97 percent of the episodes end with two lawyers making a deal in a windowless room and then you see the defendant serving six months and struggling to get a job at their local Jiffy Lube.
Oliver cited a story showing that the defendants in the show are “disproportionately white, male, older, and middle- or upper-class,” which he said Wolf explained by saying that “there is no pressure group made up of wealthy whites. You can do anything to want rich white guys and nobody cares.”
However, Oliver claimed that Wolf “wants people to like the “good guy cops,” and so it wouldn’t get the suspects to disproportionately target people of color.
But the upshot of this, he argued, is that “instead of portraying a flawed system full of structural racism, the show presents exceptionally competent cops working within a largely fair framework that primarily condemns white people.”
Oliver referred to an interview that Law & Order: SVUs former long time showrunner Warren Leight performed News Kiddas Lesley Goldberg and Daniel Fienberg for their TVs Top 5 podcast in the wake of George Floyd’s death by the Minneapolis Police Department two years ago.
When asked if Leight thinks cops are portrayed “too positively” on TV, Leight replied, “Am I individually… making a wrong contribution to society? I don’t know. Collectively, are we? Yes.” He went on to say that it is unlikely that any of the Law & authority shows would do an episode based on “cops behaving illegally. That’s not part of…Dick Wolf’s brand.”
Said Olivier: “Law & authority will never deal with the realities of policing in any meaningful way. … Because essentially, the person responsible for Law & authority and the brand is Dick Wolf, and he knows exactly what he wants his shows to do and, most importantly, not do.”
He showed part of a vintage interview where Wolf said “we’re not here to do Abner Louima” — referring to the black man who was beaten and humiliated by NYPD police officers in 1997. “That’s terrible what happened, but that represents one or two bad apples in a police force of 35,000 people,” Wolf said, adding that the show is a good recruiting tool for the police. To which Oliver replied that such tools are often “a being a propagated, hero-washed version of the truth – a truth, which is more often than not very ugly.”
He ended by reminding viewers that a TV show doesn’t represent reality, just like Grey’s Anatomy is not an accurate representation of what goes on in a hospital.
Law & authority is “presenting a world where the police can always find out who did it, lawyers are irritating obstacles to overcome, and even if a cop catches a suspect in the act, it all strives for a just outcome.”
He summed it up by noting that the show is basically a commercial for the police – “but it’s an ad for a defective product.”
News Kidda has reached out to the NBC and Wolf representative for comment.