‘Saved By the Bell’ Original Cast Talks Returning to Bayside Hig…
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s Italian PDA Features 20-Minute …
Naomi Judd Wants to Make a Guest Appearance on THIS TV Show! (Ex…
Chrishell Stause Is Dating 'Selling Sunset' Co-Star Jason Oppenh…
Matt Damon Weighs In on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's Rekindl…
Ben Affleck Touching Jennifer Lopez's Backside Reminds Fans of '…
‘American Idol’ Judge Katy Perry Talks Celebrating ‘Unconditiona…
Jonah Hill Gushes Over 'Brilliant' Co-Star Emma Stone (Exclusive)
Billie Eilish Says Justin Bieber Helps Her Manage Fame
Luke Bryan Talks Returning to the Stage and Tour Bus Life (Exclu…
'This Is Us' Star Justin Hartley and Sofia Pernas Are Married
'Saved by the Bell' Reboot: Mark-Paul Gosselaar on Reprising Zac…
Ellen Pompeo on 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 17 Premiere Shocker
Suni Lee Wins Olympic Gold as Simone Biles Cheers From the Stands
'90 Day Fiancé's Angela Deem Shocks Fans With New Look After 100…
Britney Spears’ Lawyer Speaks Out About Removing Singer's Dad Fr…
‘Outer Banks’ Season 2: Chase Stokes and Madelyn Cline on That E…
‘Love Is Blind’ Contestants Reunite 17 Months Later for ‘After t…
Nelly on Why LL Cool J is the One Person Who Makes Him Nervous (…
Following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers and subsequent protests against systemic racism in America and ongoing police brutality, there’s also been a growing discussion about how cops are portrayed on TV. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunner Warren Leight recently addressed some of those issues, saying that the long-running NBC drama will tackle what’s happening now but also look at how it’s showcasing law enforcement and the criminal justice system moving forward.
While SVU, which has followed Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and her squad solving sex crimes in New York City for 21 seasons, has no shortage of episodes ripped from the headlines, Leight told The Hollywood Reporter podcast TV’s Top 5 that Floyd’s death “has to come up and it will,” explaining that they’ll tackle related issues from all sides.
“There are ways, we will find our way in to tell the story. Presumably our cops will still be trying to do the right thing but it’s going to be harder for them and they’re going to understand why it’s hard for them,” he says of the squad facing an understandably untrustworthy public when it comes to day-to-day cases.
In the wake of the protests, Vulture published an article, “Cops Are Always the Main Characters,” which exposed TV’s longtime “police’s-eye perspective that helps shape the way viewers see the world, prioritizing the victories and struggles of police over communities being policed.” This has led to a much-needed conversation about how these portrayals shape the public consciousness.
“Change will start taking place on TV shows individually. There will be lip service paid,” Leight said, noting that he’s been making changes to the SVU writers' room in “a conscious effort to bring in new voices, fresh voices, different voices.”
In addition to bringing on new voices, including people of color and those who have extensive history covering and writing about crime in New York City, Leight said that they’ve “tried really hard in the last year to show how class and race affect the outcomes of justice in society, but I'm beginning to suspect ‘really hard’ wasn't enough. This has to be a moment where people make themselves uncomfortable, where people in power have to make themselves uncomfortable.”
When it comes to how cops are seen on SVU, Leight said that he “can’t make every episode about a bad cop” but he does make sure the show lives in the gray area of what is right and wrong. “Olivia makes mistakes...but she’s empathic, which is I think what separates the cops on our television show from a lot of what we're seeing these days on our livestreams,” he said, pointing out that the real problem is shows that glorify crooked or dirty cops. “I’ve been made uncomfortable by a number of shows that glorify the use of violence in interrogation or the use of threat.”
ET recently spoke with series star Ice-T, who opened up about the show's decision to deal with Floyd's death.
"This one was just too brutal," the actor shared. "This is what they call a tipping point. This is a point where people go, 'Enough!' This is a battle for humanity and human rights, it's not black and white people fighting, you know."
According to Ice-T, the SVU writers have been "touched by this" incident and he thinks their emotional connection to it "is going to show up in their writing."
When the series returns for season 22, it will also tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to reports of an increase in domestic abuse around the city. “We’re going to reflect New York in the pandemic,” Leight said. “What happens to someone who is sexually assaulted during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.”
The new season will also feature the return of Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni), who will lead a new Law & Order spinoff. While still early in production, the new series made headlines after creator Dick Wolf fired a writer for controversial comments about the protests in Los Angeles.
“I will not tolerate this conduct, especially during our hour of national grief. I am terminating Craig Gore immediately,” Wolf said in a statement.