Hot off the heels of both Cops and Live PD getting the boot from their respective networks, some Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fans are fearing fan favorite character Olivia Benson could be next. Portrayed by Mariska Hargitay on the popular crime drama series since 1999, Olivia just might be television's most beloved police officer. Working as the Captain and Commanding Officer of the NYPD's Special Victims Unit in Manhattan, Olivia can be seen as perhaps the most prime example of the "good cop" archetype, always tough on abusers and showing great compassion for their victims.
Following the police killing of George Floyd last month, people have been demanding heavy police reform amid worldwide protests and calls for justice. The controversy led to Paramount Network and A&E both yanking Cops and Live PD off the air, although these shows had both been among television's most popular programs. Although it seems to be mostly in jest, many people on social media have also joked that Chase the police dog from the animated children's series Paw Patrol will be the next to go, noting that the heroic portrayal of a "good cop" can now be seen as controversial.
With television's "good cops" in danger, there is now some growing concern online that Olivia Benson could get the axe. The point was also argued in a lengthy article from Rolling Stone, insisting that Olivia is in fact a part of the problem as an officer that "plays a major role in perpetuating the idea that cops are inherently trustworthy and heroic." Though she commends Hargitay for her work on and off screen, author EJ Dickson writes that a true revolution "can't be built on the backs of the exceptions, and those who perpetuate toxic systems can't be deemed immune to critique just because we like them."
As you might expect, the article has generated a bit of controversy on social media from SVU fans, as there doesn't seem to be a lot of people who want to see Benson pulled from television. "Rolling Stone, you can leave Olivia Benson alone. How about she stays and you go! I'm tired of this knee jerk reaction to pull all cop shows off the air!" says one tweet in response to the article. Many other tweets deliver essentially the same message, but with much more colorful language. The concept has since generated so much attention that even Megyn Kelly and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz have tweeted out responses.
There have been a lot of people expressing disappointment over shows like Cops and Live PD getting canceled, but the concept of canceling Olivia Benson seems to be where social media draws the line. The timing to propose the idea could also not have been any worse, as SVU fans are particularly excited to see Benson reunite with Elliott Stabler when Christopher Meloni reprises the role of Benson's former partner in the upcoming season premiere. For what it's worth, there's been no official word of NBC canceling SVU or the planned Elliott Stabler spin-off, and the outcry from fans to keep her on television just might keep her safe.
This news stems from an original article by Rolling Stone, and you can check out what people are saying about it on Twitter below.