When it comes to featuring storylines that bash American business, a 2006 Business & Media Institute (BMI) study found NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (SVU) one of the prime offenders. Now the gritty crime drama is making an encore performance for BMI with a sweeps month episode with a bizarre twist showing even more evil businessmen.
SVU’s February 6 episode proved a sweeps month encore for the anti-business bias. The story began in a police squad room as puzzled detectives began searching for clues from an anonymously tipster: a manila envelope enclosed with photographs of a partially-clothed boy, a memory card, and a cryptic note that read, ‘Please put this sick bastard away.’”
Upon further investigation, however, what appeared to be a child porn investigation turned out a far more sinister plot: a company testing roach poison on children living in New York City apartment buildings.
Here’s just a sample of the dialogue:
Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola: “You think some chemical company poisoned these people?”
Dr. Melinda Warner, medical examiner: “Wouldn’t be the first time. Chemical companies have been testing pesticides on people for years.”
Last June, the Business & Media Institute reviewed 12 top-rated dramas on the four major entertainment networks and found a systemic bias against the American businessman. One of the prime offenders was the gritty crime drama produced by veteran TV show producer Dick Wolf.
Between SVU and the other two programs in the Wolf’s “Law & Order” franchise, “almost 50 percent of the felonies (13 of 27) – mostly murders – were committed by businessmen,” BMI reported in “Bad Company: For American Businessmen, Primetime is Crimetime.”
SVU’s negative portrayal of businessmen is nothing new. “In 24 episodes of ‘Law and Order,’ ‘Law and Order: SVU,’ and ‘Law and Order: Criminal Intent,’” examined in the 2006 season, “11 plotlines featured criminal businessmen. Not one was favorable toward the private sector.”
While the "Law & Order" programs often trash American business, they enjoy success in the capitalistic system they often attack, not just in first-run airings on NBC, but also in syndication.
“NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has sold Dick Wolf's hit crime drama series ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ in more than 85% of the U.S. for Monday-through-Friday airings in national syndication starting in fall 2007,” noted a February 5 NBC Universal press release.
“Local broadcasters across the country are truly excited about the unique opportunity to have a top-tier off-network procedural drama on their stations on a Monday-through-Friday basis,” the statement quoted the company’s senior vice president Sean O’Boyle.