By Brent Furdyk.

John Oliver took aim at the “Law & Order” franchise during Sunday night’s edition of “Last Week Tonight”, and he didn’t pull any punches.

As Oliver explained, “L&O” and other television cop shows “significantly distort the big picture of policing,” and give viewers a “false narrative of law enforcement” by presenting scenarios in which “exceptionally competent cops [are] working within a largely fair framework that mostly convicts white people.”


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That, Oliver pointed out, flies in the face of reality.

“It’s presenting a world where the cops can always figure out who did it, defence attorneys are irritating obstacles to be overcome, and even if a cop roughs up a suspect, it’s all in pursuit of a just outcome,” Oliver said, pointing to “L&O” as a particularly egregious example.

“And it blasts that fantasy at you in endless reruns and marathons in the guise of very well-produced, extremely entertaining TV. But underneath it all, it is a commercial — a commercial produced by a man who is, in his own words, unabashedly pro-law enforcement,” Oliver added, referencing “L&O” creator Dick Wolf.

“It’s completely fine to enjoy [‘Law & Order’ shows], and it’s completely understandable to want Olivia Benson to exist,” Oliver continued. “But it’s important to remember just how far it is from representing anything resembling reality… [Wolf] is selling a complete fantasy that many people in this country are only too happy to buy — which is fine, as long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s an ad for a defective product.”


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Then, as Oliver typically does on “Last Week Tonight”, he brought out some statistics.

“One study found, viewers of crime dramas are more likely to believe the police are successful at lowering crime, use force only when necessary and that misconduct does not typically lead to false confessions. Which would be great if it were true, but if you’re watching this show, you probably know it is not,” Oliver explained.

Oliver also offered another explanation the show taking an excessively pro-law enforcement stand.

“One writer who’s worked on the show said, ‘…there was always the sense that if we told stories that reflected too badly on the police, the N.Y.P.D. could make it very difficult for us to shoot in New York.’ Which does make sense, doesn’t it? The N.Y.P.D is famously anti-shooting, unless they’re the ones doing it,” he added.


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Oliver wrapped up the segment by sharing a tweet from one the stars of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”.

“You gotta KNOW who the F you’re dealing with. Could be the Cops…’” tweeted Ice T in 2019.





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Ellen Bullock