Actress Diane Neal Addresses John Oliver’s ‘Law & Order’ Segment
Diane Neal is the first Law and Order alum to speak out following John Oliver’s recent segment on Last Week Tonight about the long-running crime series, in which he called out the series’ bad legacy with police and viewers.
Neal played assistant district attorney Casey Novak on the show, as a leading cast member from 2003 to 2008, and a recurring member from 2011 to 2012. Novak started as someone who was driven and came from the world of white-collar crimes with a desire to leave a mark. Initially a bit cold and antagonistic, Casey became one of the most beloved ADA characters on the series, along with Alex Cabot and Rafael Barba, throughout her tenure.
Following the Last Week Tonight segment, the actress went on Twitter and asked her followers about how real Special Victims Unit officers treat victims in comparison to the unrealistic expectations of the series. Many people wrote in sharing their experiences of being dismissed and treated poorly. Neal responded with kindness to many.
While not all the responses were negative, it was still overwhelmingly a sharing of sad experiences. The thing that Oliver touched that was the most important, in my opinion, is that officers are not trained to help victims/survivors. It highlights that from the ground up, there are a lot of barriers for victims to get the help they need to find justice, in whatever form that comes.
There is a part of the LWT segment where they play a portion of a longer interview with actress Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson, in which she talks about how hearing stories about people getting rape kits and not feeling alone because the series gave them hope is when those involved in the show “knew that it wasn’t just a TV show anymore.” And that sounds uplifting, except currently, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation’s “End the Backlog,” there are still hundreds of thousands of untested kits that are sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country. In some states, we will never know how many there were, including New York.
As someone who still watches Law & Order SVU, it is a show that continues to impress me at times with its ability to grow, and then disappoints me right after. It brings in diverse main characters for one season; then, they are gone the next. It has a complex female detective in Amanda Rollins, only for the actress playing her to be pushed off the show for ridiculous reasons. I know that the character of Olivia Benson is one of safety for others. However, even within the fantasy of her character supporting victims, we’ve still seen her show a total lack of understanding of intersectionality when there are Black and Brown victims—especially when it comes to domestic violence.
Even in the fantasy situation with a detective who cares about victims—there is still a difference in how victims of color are treated.
(via Washington Post, image: NBC)
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