Law & Order’: 5 Reasons Why Early Episodes Wouldn’t Air Today

Law & Order’: 5 Reasons Why Early Episodes Wouldn’t Air Today


Never mind critics of Hollywood “wokeness” — it’s good that TV creators are becoming more sensitive to societal issues and systemic oppression. Just go back and watch early episodes of the Law & Order franchise to see why.
As you’ll read below, the first few seasons of Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had episodes that would never make it past NBC’s standards and practices department now — or so we hope, anyway. And some of those early seasons’ bad habits persisted long into L&O and SVU’s runs. Here are some of the worst offenses….
1. Depictions of police brutality


The Law & Order universe is rife with police brutality, especially on SVU, where both Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) — but mostly Stabler — have assaulted suspects. Even the NBC website notes that Stabler “[can] be a bit abusive toward suspects, never afraid to twist an arm to get a confession.” The site also hosts an SVU clip titled “Benson Beats Up a Perfect During Questioning.”
2. Racial controversies

The Law & Order: SVU Season 4 episode “Rotten” drew condemnation from the Dominican-American Anti-Defamation League and even a protest outside Rockefeller Center in 2003, according to the New York Post. At issue was a line of dialogue in which an interview subject says, “He’s Dominican. They’re animals.”

Mercedes Jimenez-Ramirez, a spokeswoman for the Dominican-American Anti-Defamation League, told the Post, “That’s what really has us upset. It’s a generalized term — it sounded like they were talking about Dominicans as a whole, not as [just one] character in that particular case.”
Two years earlier, the Law & Order Season 11 episode “Sunday in the Park With Jorge” angered the National Puerto Rican Coalition. That episode depicted a murder at the Puerto Rican Day Parade — which is a real-life event where, in 2000, a group of assailants groped and sexually assaulted women.
“No one was murdered at the parade — they took a real event and sensationalized it at the expense of the parade,” Manuel Mirabal, then the president of the coalition, told the Post following the airing of that episode. “It’s character assassination and incites a bias across the country about the Puerto Rican Day Parade.”
After meeting with the coalition, NBC eventually promised to never re-air that Law & Order episode. “We sincerely apologize for offending members of the Latino community,” the network said in a statement at the time, per the Chicago Tribune. “We had an extremely productive meeting, and given the context in which the program was aired, we have agreed not to repeat the episode.”
A search of TV Show Transcripts reveals that a certain F-word used as a homophobic slur came up in 21 episodes of the Law & Order franchise, as far back as the second season of the original Law & Order and the first season of SVU. (A character even uttered it as recently as Season 2 of Law & Order: Organized Crime.)
4. Transphobic slurs and content
Law & Order has also used offensive language to refer to transgender individuals. “I’m five minutes into [SVU Season 5, Episode 20, “Lowdown”] and everyone’s said [a transphobic slur] so many times already,” one viewer wrote on Reddit. “Fun. I’m trying to watch, but it’s infuriating, and I have to stop every time they say it.”
5. Assorted other offensive language
TikTok user @epicfedora shared a montage of other offensive language from SVU. In Season 1, Episode 16, “The Third Guy,” for instance, a lawyer uses an outdated and pejorative term for intellectual disability.
In Season 3, Episode 2, “Wrath,” Fin (Ice-T) calls someone “fat boy.”

And in Season 2, Episode 16, “Runaway,” Fin refers to Munch (Richard Belzer) as “my Jew.”
“Munch and Fin seriously just said whatever they wanted, and everyone was just like, ‘That’s fine,’” one commenter added.

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