Tropes: Law and Order and Contrasts

Dear Law & Order franchise,

When Jack McCoy used questionable legal tactics to prosecute people and corporations whose power, privilege, and position placed them infuriatingly above the law, I felt like you were successfully using a morally ambiguous character to point out a toxic imbalance in our society. For every Race Fail and Gender Fail episode -- and there were many, so very many -- I held on, feeling like your writers at the very least got that the law is meaningless if it doesn't apply to the most powerful in our society.

When Michael Cutter uses questionable legal tactics to steamroll impoverished people who appear to be (from an armchair diagnosis) mentally ill, I feel like you are using a jerk character who is less interested in trying to find some semblance of justice in a cruel world and more interested in pursuing a one-size-fits-all crusade to the top of the heap, disparity be damned. In addition to making the show hard to enjoy, I'm a little confused as to where the actual drama is supposed to be now -- should I weep for Goliath, that he must face a child with a sling?

Something I'm honestly curious about. Yours,
~ Ana


Lonespark said...

...that show is still on, huh?
Do they still have Ed Green?

Rikalous said...

What exactly happened in this episode you're referencing? I don't watch Law and Order.

chris the cynic said...

I don't think she's referring to one episode. Based on the language used I think she's referring to trends taking place over the course of many episodes. The episodes with Jack McCoy tended to be one way, the episodes with Michael Cutter tend to be a very different way. If that's the case then it can't just be one episode because one episode is not a trend, you simply can't tell how things tend to be from one episode.

That's the impression I got from the original post.

Ana Mardoll said...

It's definitely a long, on-going, grind-my-teeth-in-frustration trend, but the most recent episode that cheezed me off was the one where you THOUGHT The Church of Happyology was responsible for a staged suicide, but it was actually the woman's apparently-mentally-ill husband who staged her suicide and then tried to stage his own.

Cutter convinced him to take a plea bargain over his defense attorney's advice by pretending to be a member of The Church of Happyology and feeding off the apparently-mentally-ill husband's chronic paranoia. Cutter pretty much outright said "they" would persecute him to the ends of the earth if he didn't take the plea bargain. Yeeeeeech.

Re: Ed Green, I *think* he's not on anymore. Hard to be sure -- we get a pick'n'mix of reruns and new runs.

ZMiles said...

Green was on the show from seasons 10-mid 18. He had the 5th longest tenure on the show, after Anita Van Buren (seasons 4-20), Jack McCoy (5-20), Lennie Briscoe (mid 3-14), and Adam Schiff (1-10). The episode referred to here is the first one after Green left, with Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) joining the cast.

Law and Order (original version) has ended. There were 20 seasons and 1 movie.

Anonymous said...

tw: suicide

how do you stage your own suicide? do you get someone else to kill you while making it look like you did it?

Ana Mardoll said...

@ZMiles, thanks!

@Anonymous, he picked a fight with the Church of Happyology security folks at a hotel conference, then staged his room to look like a fight had happened, then threw himself off the balcony. (He aimed for an awning to slow him down, and he did in fact survive.) He was trying to frame them for his murder by making it look like a staged suicide. Which is all kinds of confusing.

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