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THE MOST IMPORTANT SHOW ON TELEVISION

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As a way of life author, I’m supposed to show you on to some cool Euro detective drama on Netflix. Sure, I’ve watched them, and I have to mention, no longer simplest are they on the whole humdrum or clever without being clever, they’re not as exciting as what’s occurring on Law & Order: SVU every week.

Storylines that are ripped from the headlines are, of direction, Law & Order‘s bread and butter as a franchise, however, the no different mainstream show has weighed in so boldly on the increasing number of pitched struggle over gender, identity, rape culture, and consent. If it became a new Netflix or Hulu authentic, this season of SVU—it’s 19th—could launch a thousand assume pieces.
One tale arc that developed over numerous episodes this season—and if you haven’t been watching, SPOILERS follow—featured Brooke Shields gambling a grandmother whose grandson was adopted by way of Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay, for the uninitiated). The long tale, but the mom turned into a runaway, Benson attempted to help her, however, she died in the palms of an awful boyfriend. Typical SVU stuff.

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At first, Benson is suspicious, however then they all bond till granny kidnaps the boy. Clearly, there are a few issues with this storyline, however after Benson rescues her son, the writers really hammer home the takeaways: working moms are precise mothers. Small-minded rural racism and xenophobia are awful. Heteronormative, organic families aren’t the only households.

I’m not sure there needed to be a Hargitay-Shields wrestling match to make all those points, however, all around, that’s a variety of message for one cop display. (On the pure entertainment level, this tale arc is concluded with a Peter Gallagher-Ice T staredown that is one of the first-class matters I have ever seen on tv. Or anywhere, virtually.)

In an episode titled Flight Risk that in the beginning aired on Jan. 17, intrepid district legal professional Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) convenes a grand jury towards an airline that has displayed systematic discrimination towards female pilots. He argues that the business enterprise need to be charged with grand larceny because of the lack of expert advancement and wages.

Yes, SVU is making the case for girl reparations. I’ve examined a fair quantity of feminist theory and masses of arguments for placing a greenback fee on exertions traditionally performed via girls. But until this episode, I’ve in no way heard the case made in this way earlier than earlier than and it has some pretty radical implications.

While this season is specifically politically charged, it now not finds it irresistible’s new territory for the display.

SVU tackles problems like gender non-conformity with a kind of characteristic New York City bluntness. There’s an exchange in an episode that aired on Sept. 30, 2015, with the awkward name Transgender Bridge about a bullied transgender teenager that is going something like this:

Cop 1: Ah, I don’t understand about these transgenders, what’s up with that?

Cop 2: I mean, me either, but why would a dude wear a get dressed and capture all that flack except he simply wanted to, ya understand?

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If you watch the SVU reruns—which might be on cable quite a great deal each second of every day—it won’t take long to locate an episode in which transgender ladies are portrayed as prostitutes and referred to using a whole host of derogatory terms which might be surely recoiling worth. This more recent technique includes a boneheaded but correct-hearted cop with a thick Brooklyn accent framing the questions that viewers may be asking themselves. It doesn’t deal with lovers like idiots for not automatically expertise the whole lot approximately gender and sexuality. This tactic that moves me as a quite effective in our fraught social surroundings, although it’s normally dependent on lame speak.

In the identical way that the show is willing to symbolize visitors who might not apprehend transgender problems on screen—albeit in a slightly hamfisted way—Lt. Benson, the collection’ incomparable heroine, and fearless leader is a stand-in for quite a whole lot each terrible element that may happen to a woman. While she has no longer been raped at the show, in line with se, she has come near numerous times—as soon as whilst undercover in a ladies’ prison, once at some point of an abduction by using a violent sociopath. She is the product of rape, and her alcoholic mother by no means allow her to overlook it. She has been taken hostage more than as soon as. She has had an HIV scare.

Her burning and requited love for her lengthy-time companion, Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and string of go-nowhere relationships with newshounds who use her as a supply, lawyers who come to be homosexual, and different cops who come to be toxic, has been undercut via occasional suggestions that she would possibly certainly be a lesbian. You can come for Olivia Benson, however first know that existence itself has already tried it, and yet here she nevertheless is—a running mom, in a practical heel suitable both for kicking ass and chasing the occasional perp.

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I can’t blame visitors for now not being interested in quite a few community television proper now, especially procedurals. A display like NCIS is an advertisement for the safety state; Criminal Minds is like an FBI recruiting video, and the CBS display S.W.A.T. Comes throughout like a display a person paid the community to increase as damage manages for the terrible public image SWAT groups have earned themselves. None of the amusing or creativity that becomes on display in say, the early years of CSI, is everywhere to be observed. SVU although, ceased being only a show and began being greater of a provocateur at some point after Meloni left. It stopped chasing serial killers and rapists who lurk in the timber and started grappling with American sexual politics.

There’s so much remarkable tv that there’s no cause to search around on prime time for something new to look at. Streaming hits like Stranger Things and Game of Thrones have caught as much as community tv in phrases of the number of viewers. And frankly, as a great deal as I love SVU, I watch it due to the fact I’m interested in the way it’s collaborating inside the larger communique about gender and sexuality and due to the fact I leave out dwelling in New York City. I don’t the song in as it’s superb tv—even though maybe this is one way wherein television may be extraordinary at this point in time.