Law enforcement, both real and fictional, has been the subject of a reckoning in recent years, albeit a confusing one. Many wondered, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, if the police shows ended. Law & Order: Organized Crime dropped its showrunner Craig Gore amid controversial Facebook comments about the 2020 protests (the show has since had five showrunners throughout his three-season tenure). And yet last year the original Law rose again, and the sister chicago police The law enforcement franchise is going strong, so it looks like police shows are doubling down.
Still, policing programs no longer exist in an apolitical way, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Actress Kelli Giddish appears to have been a victim of the Law & Order shakeup, with her departure announced before CSRSeason 24 premiere on Thursday. But this writer won’t miss Giddish’s Detective Amanda Rollins and her legacy of blaming the victims and slut-shaming, and her departure shows just how far the Law & Order universe has to go.
This is not a celebration of actress Kelli Giddish’s departure from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – which it was not of his own free will, and was cited by the series’ new showrunner David Graziano as only part of the behind-the-scenes “complex” creative and financial decisions running the show, but rather her character. Giddish’s Amanda Rollins entered the Dick Wolf television universe as a member of CSRChris Meloni’s elite squad for the show’s 13th season after the departure of equally troubled Detective Elliot Stabler (who is now back in this role in organized crime, as well as a bunch of cameos in the spin-off that made him famous). And quickly (and often) he became an example of the limits of police programs to truly protect and serve their communities. She’s judgmental, reproachful, and probably more conservative than we know, if her defense of an Ann Coulter-esque political pundit in the season 19 episode “Info Wars” is any indication.
In later seasons, we find out that Rollins was raped by her former captain in Atlanta, who attacks another deputy in the season 16 episode “Forgive Rollins.” “She’ll get over it,” Rollins says dismissively, clearly projecting her own trauma onto this survivor because it’s what Rollins herself had to do. It’s a reaction that flew in the face of how CSR was being received at the time, as some kind of fulfillment of the desire for justice for survivors who expected their assaults to be treated with as much care as the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious crimes every week on NBC, but especially Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), the patron saint of rape avengers.
Compared to Benson, forgiving Rollins after that was difficult, even with all the baggage we discovered about her, especially when it came to her sister, the annoying Kim, played with aplomb by Lindsay Pulsipher. Having such chaotic relatives should make Rollins relatable and understanding. And yet, her story is always poorly written and allows for the less charitable reading of her as a character who prevents her from growing up, with her twin superiority complex seemingly overcoming her toxic family but always receding.
While we empathize with Rollins and understand why he sometimes responds in questionable ways to Survivors who he doesn’t think are behaving in the right way, he doesn’t go about his job with the same empathy. A lukewarm plot of her going to therapy to get over her toxic upbringing ended with her being held hostage (and that’s it). The episode that completely pissed me off at the character was Season 19’s “Service,” when Rollins asks why she SVU “gives[s] a fuck” about sex workers who have been assaulted. That a detective tasked with bringing rapists to justice makes so much fun of a group of people who have between 45% to 75% chance of experiencing sexual violence at workaccording to the Urban Justice Center, it’s disgusting.
And that’s where Rollins represents the uphill battle CSR and his brothers are still doing badly. The show’s “ripped from the headlines” scheme does not always allow enough distance from these newsworthy crimes to CSR treat them with the sensitivity they deserve (which is a problem with the true crime genre in general). CSR got a chance to change the way he portrayed surveillance in late 2020 in the return of season 22; however, many will argue that the damage the franchise has done to the perception of policing over the course of two decades cannot be undone in a few short months. As it was, the season 22 premiere episode featured white female Amy Cooper calling the police on black birder Christian Cooper (no relation) on the Central Park Ramble that occurred on the same day as the incident. murder of George Floyd, making no effort to unpack that summer’s racial reckoning with any of the care that made survivors fall in love with the spectacle. With CSR addressing the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp case in the upcoming season 24, and with the cancellation of roe v. calf Earlier this year, the show is likely to factor in more ripped-from-the-headline plotlines into its outline.
Detective Rollins is not CSRthe only problem; she is just one part of a larger problem with police programs and law enforcement in general. She was protected from having to grow and learn from her mistakes. Getting rid of it won’t solve all Law problem, but it is at least a step in the right direction.