The latest series from long-running criminal justice franchise Law & Order will be, unfortunately, more relevant than ever.
According to Variety, NBC has ordered new series Law & Order: Hate Crimes, which will be based on the inner workings of New York's real-life Hate Crimes Task Force. The series, which hails from prolific producer Dick Wolf, follows several spinoffs of the original 1990 series, which ended in 2010. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which began in 1999 and is still ongoing after over 400 episodes, will reportedly help usher in Hate Crimes by introducing characters from the upcoming series during SVU's 20th season.
Wolf told Variety that he hopes the series sparks conversation.
"As with all of my crime shows, I want to depict what’s really going on in our cities and shine a light on the wide-ranging victims and show that justice can prevail," Wolf explained to the outlet. "Twenty years ago when SVU began, very few people felt comfortable coming forward and reporting these crimes, but when you bring the stories into people’s living rooms – with characters as empathetic as [Detective] Olivia Benson [played by Mariska Hargitay] – a real dialogue can begin. That’s what I hope we can do with this new show in a world where hate crimes have reached an egregious level."
The show will be particularly topical considering the current climate in America. Per USA Today, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University found that there was an over 12% increase in hate crimes reported by police last year in America's 10 largest cities. New York, where Hate Crimes is set, is included in this list.
Though Law & Order is a fictionalized franchise, it has a history of pulling from real-world headlines. Just as SVU tackles based-in-reality stories of sexual violence (the series based its 2018 episode "Flight Risk" on the allegations against Harvey Weinstein) viewers will likely see familiar crime stories play out on Wolf's new series, with a specific focus on crimes perpetrated due to bigotry.
There is currently no release date for Law & Order: Hate Crimes.
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