John Oliver caused quite the controversy when he charged that the Law & Order franchise “propagandized” police and prosecutors. The clip from his weekly HBO show went viral.
At least one former star agrees with the comedian/social commentator. Diane Neal, who played prosecutor Casey Novak in the early years of Law & Order: SVU, asked her followers on Twitter to share stories with her following the John Oliver comments. She tweeted:
“Did any of you watch [Last Week Tonight with John Oliver]? about the depiction of [law enforcement] on [SVU] giving victims who report sex crimes in real life unrealistic expectations that the cops will care or crimes will be solved? If it happen to you-tell me.”
Law & Order: SVU Star Said Justice System Needs Real Olivia Bensons
And Neal then started quote tweeting some of the responses. It seems lots of folks wished Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson was a real-life captain instead of a fictitious character on Law & Order: SVU. Neal wrote:
“If [Olivia Benson, SVU] were real, there would be a LOT more justice. I’m embarrassed to admit, I used to think the way it worked on the show was like real life. Then I found out the hard way I was wrong. Thank you for sharing the story of your real experience. [I am sorry.]”
Neal Portrayed ADA Casey Novak for More than 100 Episodes
Neal portrayed Novak for more than 100 episodes of Law & Order: SVU from 2003 through 2012. Her character was an assistant district attorney assigned to the Sex Crimes Bureau. Novak ended up in the ICU in one episode when she was attacked and raped. In two other episodes, she was attacked while prosecuting a case in the courtroom. Neal left the show in season 13. Writers never explained what happened with Novak.
Law & Order: SVU wasn’t the only time Neal appeared in a crime procedural. She also portrayed recurring character Abigail Boren in NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans. Boren led her own investigative team in the Coast Guard and joined forces with her NCIS counterparts.
Neal also quote tweeted Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House in Congress. Christine Pelosi wrote: “I was a sexual assault prosecutor and told victims ‘this is not Law and Order. Each ADA has a full caseload, the system retraumatizes victims, and we’re not getting a quick verdict. But I WILL fight for you.’ Many cops + SDAs care deeply and/but real life harder + messier than TV.”
And Neal responded, “That is a great and honest way to talk to victims.”
Neal is mostly retired from acting. She suffered severe injuries in a 2013 car accident and needed time to recuperate. Neal unsuccessfully ran for Congress in New York as an independent in 2018. independent. She now hosts her own podcast.
Meanwhile, Law & Order along with its spinoffs SVU and Organized Crime premiere on Sept. 22 with a three-hour crossover.