With increasing awareness and popularity of protests against police brutality, shows like the upcoming Law and Order SVU Season 18 are in tremendous pressure to be extra careful with the content it produces.
Season 18 of the highly successful Law and Order franchise premieres Wednesday, September 21 on NBC. New showrunner, co-executive producer of Law and Order Rick Eid, said he will not be re-inventing the series and instead simply “keep doing great, high-quality work”.
In his interview with EW, Eid shared that the season will continue a month or so where they left off—that is, the death of Mike Dodds.
“It’s maybe a month or so; we’re not super time-specific, so it’s not like it’s time-coded, but maybe a month or so after the death of Mike Dodds (Andy Karl) in season 17, that’s how the finale ended. That is still weighing heavily on the SVU team and certainly the character of Benson. We pick up from there.”
Dodds’ death affects much of the characters in the upcoming season. Benson feels responsible for what happened to Dodds and in turn becomes a bit too protective of her team.
Chief Dodds is also having a difficult time reconciling with the fact that his son is dead. Feeling in some ways that Benson is responsible for creating evident tension between the two characters.
Eid also shares that there will be some new characters but they are still not sure when exactly they will be appearing.
Law and Order SVU Season 18 Episodes Inspired By Real-life Incidents
Instead of changing things up with Law and Order SVU Season 18, Eid says he just wants to continue producing quality content with stories that matter to people.
The question is not how to change the season. Instead, he shares, “How do we continue to tell great stories, powerful stories, stories in the zeitgeist, things that matter to people that are top of mind in the best way possible?”
With the more frequent incidents of mass-shooting, the first episode will be inspired by the San Bernardino mass shooting.
“We start with a mass-shooting incident that may or may not be a terrorist activity.” Eid says.
The second episode is also inspired by another real-life case where a man was wrongfully accused and imprisoned for rape.
“We explore the idea of whether an innocent man sent away can be turned into a rapist by the prison system that he was wrongfully sent to.”
Police Brutality and Television
Another topic that is most relevant to the series is police brutality, which is an issue that has risen in awareness recently.
According to humanitarian organization, Human Rights Watch, “Abuse by law enforcement officers in the United States is one of the most serious and divisive human rights violations in the country. The violations persist nationwide, in rural, suburban, and urban areas of the country, committed by various law enforcement personnel including local and state police, sheriff’s departments, and federal agents. Police have engaged in unjustified shootings, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and unnecessarily rough treatment.”
Though cases of police brutality is not of significant proportion, there is usually no reprimand for abusive law enforcers.
An article by Quartz points out the discrepancy between the fictional characters police play—that of a hero—in films and TV shows versus what is actually transpiring on a daily basis in real life.
“Television and movies don’t inherently present cops as good. But the narrative demand for excitement and urgency means that they almost always present cops as necessary. In these fictions, there are bad men out there, and police have the exciting, dramatic job of fighting and defeating them. In America today, we can’t imagine a world without police—which is part of the reason why, in the real world, it’s so hard to hold them accountable.”