Talking Television and Values.

Archive for the ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ Category

Law and Order is Fair and Balanced

Posted by Travis R Grant on February 21, 2007

I am a Law and Order fan. I got a late start in the Law and Order series, I got started with the program sometime before the Criminal Intent series was broadcast, but after the Special Victims Unit started broadcasting.

I like the original better than either of the others. But I really like Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) in Criminal Intent. Sure he’s a little Monk (obsessive compulsive) in his nature, but he isn’t overwhelming like Monk is. His psychosis is probably something different, but I like it. It adds to his character.

I am generally bothered by Special Victims Unit. I watch it on occasion, but always with caution. I don’t disapprove of the general message it sends. The cops catch the bad guys, and the bad guys generally go to jail. That’s the way I want my entertainment to be. It is just that sometimes while watching SVU, I get too uncomfortable in the topic, and I just can’t watch any more.

Today’s episode of Criminal Intent had me nervous. And it seemed to go down hill as the show progressed.

Television often portrays religious people as nuts. And Law and Order has had it fair share of such nut case religious people. These portrayal don’t do religion justice. It is an unfair representation of some of the best organizations in America. This episode of Criminal Intenat was in part a contributer to this problem.

In this episode, it is discovered that a televangelist is into homosexual prostitution. And because of that, he is assumed for murder. I will be the first to admit that religious people aren’t free from sin. Even those who are actively involved in preaching religion fall short of everything they preach. However, this portrayal and other like it send a continued message that religion is the problem. The media continues to say that religious people are hypocrites.

However, I have to give this episode a fair and balanced label because they made the ultimate statement that the scientist (symbolic of the non-religious) wasn’t perfect either. The scientist had a secret of his own (his secret was perhaps more innocent), but he was willing to kill in order to hide his secret.

Also, this episode portrayed religion in a positive sense. Det. Goren wasn’t sold on the positive nature, but the show made it clear that religion does have value in our society.

In a surprise twist, we met Det. Goren’s brother in this episode. He is a recovering drug addict, who says that he recovered because of his faith. he was very grateful for what religion had done for him. He was still struggling in life, but he was making a change for the better.

They make this point even more firmly with a poignant statement about the help that religion provided Goren’s brother in only a way that a Dick Wolf creation can. Goren lack of hope for his brother is proven false. And we see that religion can help the down trodden.

There are other examples of Law and Order allusions to the good of religion. The one that comes to mind is the Catholic Sister who runs a shelter for rape victims in Special Victims Unit. And I think that this is perhaps the most balanced show available. However, it still has a taste of negativity toward religion.

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