Mariska Hargitay now heads the “Law & Order” franchise as the strongest female lead with her Olivia Benson character. At the end of the day, though, she’s not the only lady to leave a lasting impression on the show. The “Criminal Intent” side of things also featured a series of compelling women detectives. These included Kathryn Erbe’s Alexandra Eames, Annabella Sciorra’s Carolyn Barek, and Julianne Nicholson’s Megan Wheeler among others. Before that, the OG “Law & Order” franchise featured another superwoman that’s often forgotten about. Milena Govich.
When Milena Govich joined the parent series in its 17th season as Nina Cassady, she actually made history. Her character, also known as “Detective Beauty Queen,” joined the storyline as Detective Ed Green’s (Jesse L. Martin’s) partner, replacing Dennis Farina’s Detective Joe Fontana. Unfortunately, though, her character didn’t last very long in the series. Here’s the real reason why.
The ‘Law & Order’ Character Just Wasn’t Very Likeable
Ultimately, the way that Milena Govich’s character was written did not give her the best shot at longevity. Seen as an inexperienced rookie, the Lieutenant did not take very favorably to Nina Cassady. They often butted heads during her short time on the show. Then, one particular episode pretty much sealed the deal on Cassady’s reputation.
Titled “Fear America,” this particular episode took on the controversial topic of racial profiling. Govich’s Cassady character made several remarks throughout the episode that went on to defend racial profiling by law enforcement. She often used the phrase “I’m not racist, but…”
In the aftermath, it was no surprise to fans when her character did not return at the start of Season 18. The writers actually never mentioned what happened to her, she just vanished from the series never to be seen again.
At the end of the day, the character’s poor perception from viewers at home was no reflection of Milena Govich’s acting abilities. She played the role exactly as written and nobody had any gripes with her. Following the character’s exit, she actually stayed in the Dick Wolf universe, lending her talent off-screen.
Milena Govich’s Legacy to the Series
Up until 2006, the OG “Law & Order” featured almost exclusively male lead detectives and partners throughout its 20-year run. Milena Govich changed that, whether her Cassady character was actually well-received or not. Her character marked the first, last, and only detective role to be played by a woman in the entirety of the parent series.
Later, she lent her hand as a Producing Director for several CBS hits including “FBI.” She also directed for “FBI: Most Wanted,” “Chicago Med,” and “Chicago Fire.”
You can catch up with her on Instagram: