John Oliver Slams ‘Law & Order’ Franchise As A “Commercial For A Defective Product”

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The Law & Order television franchise is “commercial” for a “defective product,” said John Oliver on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, capping a lengthy rant about the Dick Wolf cop shows that Oliver argued present an unrealistic and misleading depiction of law enforcement.

“If a medical show was giving us inaccurate information, we would say it’s dangerous,” Oliver said at one point, suggesting that if Grey’s Anatomy espoused misleading information about vaccines, “We’d probably be having a conversation about, [and] that’s essentially what Law & Order is doing.”

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The franchise, Oliver argues, regularly promotes a message that “cops can always figure out who did it,” defense attorneys are an annoyance and police brutality is acceptable for “a just outcome.”

Making extensive use of show clips – Oliver never denies how entertaining and compelling the shows can be – the HBO host outlined numerous ways in which the fictional cops diverge from reality: On L&O: SVU, sexual assault cases are routinely solved, as opposed to the small percentage of the real-life division.

Also, Oliver noted, instead of “depicting a flawed system riddled with structural racism,” the Law & Order shows present “exceptionally competent cops working within a largely fair framework that mostly convicts white people.”

Oliver singles out L&O creator Dick Wolf for some of his harshest critiques, drawing a direct line from Wolf back to Jack Webb, whose Dragnet was in essence a promotional tool for the LAPD.

Law & Order, Oliver argues, “is selling a complete fantasy that too many people in this country are only too willing to buy.”

Watch the entire Last Week Tonight segment above.


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