Wednesday’s episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, “A Nation Divided,” centered on the story of an unarmed Black teen who was shot and killed by police officers on a New York city street. The officers, in desperate search for a rape suspect, shoot and kill a Black college student who fits the description of the wanted suspect.
Influenced by current events, the episode included references to Ferguson, Baltimore and Staten Island, as well as a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement. In a Washington Post interview with the episode’s producer, Warren Leight said:
Something seems to be going on in the nation right now, and it seems that we’re looking at, at least anecdotally, an epidemic of cops shooting unarmed people, often unarmed black men, but not exclusively black men.
We’ve just seen a spate of incidents in which that has been the case, and we have a police show. One of the things that is frustrating to me is that too few shows are tackling the tough issues. There are way more shows about zombies than about what’s going on in our judicial system. Very few shows are allowed to get away with this right now.
Our mantra is that we shed light on the darker corners of society. Police shootings of unarmed people is something that needs to be discussed.
The heavy episode yielded a mixed response from viewers on social media. Many thought it was true to life, while still some others felt the episode was exploiting, and not necessarily aiding the movement against police brutality. In March, the television series, Scandal, aired an episode influenced from the events surrounding the police involved shooting deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson, which also garnered mixed reactions.
SVU is really showing the perceived logic of cops after the shooting of an unarmed African American
— Gallifreyan Misfit (@KingOfDaMisFits) October 15, 2015
So this is how cops really act when one of their own does something dirty? Explains a lot. #SVU
— KimmyV (@Johnny__Wadd) October 15, 2015
— KevinFox (@KevinGFox) October 14, 2015
Video of the trailer below: