"I can't make every episode about a bad cop ... I think we're trying to depict how justice should be handled for victims and for perps," Law & Order: SVU executive producer Warren Leight said

By Robyn Merrett
June 05, 2020 08:57 PM
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Law & Order: SVU
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The new season of Law & Order: SVU will address the horrific death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests in response to police brutality.

Showrunner Warren Leight opened up about how SVU plans to tackle the current state of the world, explaining during The Hollywood Reporter podcast TV's Top 5 that Floyd's killing "has to come up and it will."

Floyd, 46, was killed last Monday in Minneapolis when former officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck; an independent autopsy showed he died from asphyxia. (On Wednesday, all four fired Minneapolis police officers present during the killing of Floyd learned they would face prosecution for their alleged roles in his homicide.)

"There are ways, we will find our way in to tell the story. Presumably our cops will still be trying to do the right thing but it's going to be harder for them and they're going to understand why it's hard for them," Leight shared.

Leight explained on the podcast that changes are being made in the SVU writers' room in an "effort to bring in new voices, fresh voices, different voices."

In addition to making efforts to diversify, Leight shared that SVU has "tried really hard in the last year to show how class and race affect the outcomes of justice in society, but I'm beginning to suspect 'really hard' wasn't enough."

"This has to be a moment where people make themselves uncomfortable — where people in power have to make themselves uncomfortable," Leight said on the podcast.

While Leight explained, "[We] can't make every episode about a bad cop," he added that, "Olivia makes mistakes ... but she's empathic, which is I think what separates the cops on our television show from a lot of what we're seeing these days on our livestreams."

"I've been made uncomfortable by a number of shows that glorify the use of violence in interrogation or the use of threat," Leight continued.

Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The upcoming season of SVU will also explore the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're going to reflect New York in the pandemic. What happens to someone who is sexually assaulted during the height of the coronavirus outbreak," Leight said.

In addition to covering current events, SVU is bringing back familiar faces.

In March, Deadline reported that Christopher Meloni will be reprising his role as Elliot Stabler for a new NBC spinoff series.

The still untitled show, which could be branded as part of the Law & Order franchise, will follow Stabler as he leads the organized crime division of the NYPDIt’s already received a 13-episode order.

Dick Wolf, Law & Order mastermind, is behind the show and will executive produce alongside Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski. This is the first show to come out of the five-year deal Wolf signed with Universal Television last month, for a rumored nine-digit figure.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.