Law & Order: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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Published 2022-09-11
John Oliver discusses the wildly popular television franchise, what it’s been teaching us about law enforcement, and some tricks for how to get to sleep in two minutes flat.

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All Comments (21)
  • Jonathan Joestar
    Ok, an innocence project version of Law and Order would actually be genius. Imagine bringing back like 20 of the actors for characters who were convicted who have aged because canonically they’ve been in jail for years since their conviction, and then showing that the cops got it wrong in that case. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that.
  • Berry Nice
    Honestly the only thing Law and Order taught me is ‘never say anything without a lawyer’
  • 50043211
    The part where cops are watching L&O to get a rudimentary clue what to do in certain situations perfectly demonstrates that 21 weeks of training just does not cut it in modern a society.
  • Brea *hot vlog
    Even as a kid, the one thing Law & Order taught me was that prosecutors were shady as hell. Seriously...Sam Waterston's character always did things that even as a kid I knew weren't okay but the show would justify it as "justice" and "to get the bad guy"...even with his character consistently getting angry at the judge when he was told he couldn't partake in illegal practices.
  • As a SA survivor, I can fully attest how cathartic Law & Order SVU has been to watch. To see the fantasy of people like me getting justice from people who genuinely cared. But even as I watched it as a scared 15 year old, I knew it was all a fantasy. That cops and the system of getting said justice is a difficult climb that I'll never get on because I know the odds are against me. As much as I love SVU, I want an Innocence Project type show, where victims, both convicted in jail and silenced to never have a case, can get real justice. And people should know that the police really is against you as an SA survivor.
  • ToyKeeper
    "Law and Order: Oopsie!" would be a great show... covering all the cases where police and the rest of the system ruined people's lives for no good reason.
  • TheSkepticSkwerl
    Imagine a surgeon saying "I went to medical school, but most of what I do, I learned from grey's anatomy"
  • Ryan Clancy
    "Bananaphylactic shock" Absolutely brilliant.

    We all need to just take a moment and appreciate whoever wrote that particular pun.
  • Sebastian G
    Just a side note: Ice-T happens to have a metal band that, in spite of his affiliation with Law and Order, is heavily critical of the police, the government perpetuating racism, and (through lyrics that he himself describes as ultra-violence) the use of force by those in power. I can't seem to find the interview, but at one point he mentioned that he enjoyed Law and Order because it portrayed the kind of cops he wished we had.
  • Shannon Lopez
    Both my parents were cops and they hated the Law in Order franchise. My dad had a particular loathing for Stabler's violent interrogation techniques. A man will say anything under torture AND suspects will lawyer up and not say anything if you get hostile like that. Also, it wasn't until years after I stopped watching SVU that I realized how the show really vilified Internal Affairs when (in theory) I.A. is suppose to police the police and hold them accountable.
  • Me and my criminal law class in college had the same discussion after a professor brought up how annoying shows like CSI and law & order were in regards to actual criminal justice. Our professor was a defense lawyer for Guantanamo Bay detainees, Buzz was one of the best teachers ive ever had.
  • Kimberly Garay
    The Exonerated 5 where just briefly mentioned but they deserve a whole episode to themselves.
  • One of my first jobs in mental health was working in a residential treatment facility for teenagers. Whenever SVU came on, they would all, girls’ and boys’ floors alike, disappear into their rooms to watch it. I asked a more senior staff one day why that was. She said, “Well, think about it. It creates a fantasy for them, in which the cops are the good guys, the victim is always rescued, and the person that was hurting them is brought to justice. Most of these kids never have and never will see that.”
  • Anami
    Tbf, I think the most truthful storyline on L&O SVU is when the ADA prosecutes a group of cops (I think they were 3) that shot a black kid a dozen times and then gets stalked, threatened, harrased and assaulted for the next 3 seasons before leaving the show.

    I think it's called the "Terrence Reynolds case" through the series, and the summary is: The cops were looking for a guy with a gun, saw someone that could be him, screamed STOP and inmediately shot him a dozen times. Then, for the entire episode, the ADA gets shunned by all his cop friends because "they thought they were in danger, you can't blame them, for that".

    The episode was SURREAL, the way they touched the subject was horrible, but the thing that stood out the most for me was how suddenly ALL THE CHARACTERS DID A 180, their personalities, story arcs, relationships with the ADA and characterizations were GONE. Like, I knew the show was gringo copaganda, but it was truly impressive how they managed to completely forget how to write all of those characters in a second, all for the sake of making cops look pitiful in front of checks notes the consecuences of their own actions.
  • felisconcolori
    I think you may have missed one of the more pernicious and often unrealized effects of Law & Order. In those 3% of cases that do go to trial, members of the jury can have very warped perceptions of what to expect during a trial, and what to expect in the way of evidence. Juries can become deadlocked over what some jurors may think (based on Law & Order) is necessary evidence. The order part of the show uses a wide variety of tropes and tricks that just aren't realistic. The prosecution isn't going to trick the defendant into confessing in open court during cross-examination; there may not be DNA evidence, hair or fiber evidence, or whatever the forensic soup of the day is, for each crime. Alternately, one piece of evidence that is almost always the slam dunk in the prosecution's favor on the show may lead jurors to feel that they don't need to consider any other facts because of one circumstantial piece of evidence. It's a compelling police procedural drama but that's just not what an average day in court is going to be for anyone.
  • As a former prosecutor, I had to ask the jurors about their crime watching shows to help understand and educate potential jurors that videotape, fingerprints, audiotapes, etc. isn’t required to find beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Dragon034
    I have been watching Law and Order, specifically SVU ever since i was a little kid and last year I was almost strangled to death and this show i genuinely believed help save my life that day. I didnt learn any cool defense moves or anything but I learned that the best thing to use during a life or death situation is your quick wits and your teeth (I bit my attacker on his hand and i refused to stop biting until he let me go). I ended up doing an interview at a news station and they asked me if i had any training or self defense prior to being attacked and my response was "Nope. All I had was my knowledge of Law and Order and what the characters in the show would do". I know at the end of the day the show itself is fake and portrays the court room in a way different light, but I know that it has helped me for sure at least personally. Also im super glad Christopher Meloni came back to the show, that was honestly really cool as a long time fan.
  • Rat Essentials
    Honestly, knew the concept of this episode before it began. I remember watching a few years back and being really unsettled how Stabler is painted as the guy who breaks the rules but all's well that ends well. He literally tortures people, and its painted as a good things because he gets the criminal.
  • spongeintheshoe
    When my mom saw this, she commented on how we basically expect untrained civilians to be responsible for deescalating encounters with the police instead of expecting our highly-trained, taxpayer-funded police force to be able to deescalate situations.
  • I love SVU but always realize that the show is fiction. I can say the one thing I have learned from the show is NEVER talk to the police without a lawyer because law enforcement will lie to get you to say something you shouldn't.