Law & Order: SVU has always mined the headlines for its stories, which means that a Harvey Weinstein episode is iminent. In late November, The Hollywood Reporter shared that the show would debut an episode based on Weinstein in 2018. According to showrunner Michael Chernuchin, who spoke with THR this week, the show has actually already addressed Weinstein-esque figures.
"We've done the Harvey story so many times," he said. "We did one last season with a newscaster. We did them on Wall Street. It's a recurring theme."
SVU focuses on sex crimes, which means Harvey Weinsteins — i.e., men in power with a penchant for sexual harassment — are pretty common villains. But the Weinstein phenomena is bigger than just a Wall Street sex offender. It was a cultural watershed, and it pointed to age-old flaws in Hollywood. To address this moment, Chernuchin said the show planned on focussing on the culture surrounding sex crimes.
"We want to show how an industry, a closed society, can become sort of a sanctuary city for predators and abusers," he explained. "Where everybody knows what's going on but nobody turns anybody in." The industry in question in the upcoming episode will be the airline industry, which is more similar to Hollywood than you might think. (High profit value, a complicated bureaucracy, and a history of treating women as decoration, etc. Gail Collins outlined pretty clearly in 2016 how the industry ran amok.)
As for sexual harassment, that's kind of SVU's wheelhouse. Chernuchin pointed out that he feels like the show has been talking about it for the past 19 years, and only now — after a major Hollywood producer was felled by a single New York Times report — people are beginning to listen. He stressed that SVU will keep addressing sex crimes, but not just because it's suddenly become trendy to do so.
"It's not because of what's going on now, or what's in the newspaper now, it's because we always have dealt with it," he said.
The Weinstein-inspired episode is expected to air sometime in 2018.
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