‘Law & Order’ Franchise Slammed By John Oliver Over Portrayal of Police

by Samantha Whidden

During the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver slammed Law & Order creator Dick Wolf for the TV franchise’s portrayal of police.

While presenting a segment about Law & Order, John Oliver discussed Wolf and how he was influenced to create the long-running series by Dragnet, which is a series that worked closely with the Los Angeles Police Department. The talk show host further explained that Wolf has a close behind-the-scenes relationship with the New York Police Department. This is through employing law enforcement as consultants. 

However, Oliver began citing an interview with a Law & Order writer, who claimed that there was a “feeling” that the writers could not paint the police in a bad light. This is because the New York City law enforcement would then make it difficult to shoot the series in New York. “Which does make sense, doesn’t it?” Oliver explained. “The NYPD is famously anti-shooting, unless they’re the ones doing it.”

Oliver then stated that Law & Order cannot reflect the reality that 97% of cases with NYPD officers never go to trial due to plea deals. “[The show] would be unwatchable. Nobody wants to watch a show where 97 percent of episodes end with two lawyers striking a deal in a windowless room and then you get to watch the defendant serve six months and struggle to get a job at their local Jiffy Lube.” 

Oliver further explained his stance on Law & Order by declaring the show is never going to “grapple” with the reality of policing in a meaningful way. “Because fundamentally, the person who is responsible for Law & Order and its brand is Dick Wolf, and he knows what he wants his shows to do and importantly, not to do.” 

Along with ‘Law & Order,’ John Oliver Calls Out ‘Blue Bloods

This isn’t the first time that John Oliver called out a series like Law & Order. As previously reported, the talk show host called out fellow police procedural drama series Blue Bloods for spreading myths about drugs. 

During the March 2022 episode, Oliver spoke about the fentanyl dangers. As part of the discussion, Oliver used a 2017 clip of the hit TV show as an example of misconceptions about the drug. This includes fentanyl causing overdose through a simple touch. “This is complete bull—. Not that you’d expect more nuance from a show that’s basically adult PAW Patrol. The point is, it is deeply irresponsible of police to keep perpetuating a medical impossibility. And for media outlets to keep amplifying it.” 

Oliver wasn’t quite done going after Blue Bloods. As he discussed obtaining Narcan, the drug to stop overdoses the talk show host stated, “There are certain things you would want to go out of your way to discourage people having in their homes. Nazi flags, pet chips, TV playing an episode of Blue Bloods. But Narcan is absolutely not one of them.”