Law & Order Syndrome: When too much of a good thing becomes "fatal"

Law & Order Syndrome: When too much of a good thing becomes "fatal"

Law and Order: 457 episodes

Law and Order Special Victim's Unit: 411 episodes (and counting)

Law and Order Criminal Intent: 195 episodes

Law and Order Trial by Jury: 13 episodes

Law and Order Los Angeles: 22 episodes

Law and Order UK: 53 episodes (and counting)

(Source: IMDB)


The above are just the raw facts of the successful drama Law and Order and its numerous spin-offs, reboots, and experiments. The shows, to this day, have spawned over 1,151 episodes, a TV movie, books, games, and various other forms of media.

And, all being said, it's one of my absolute favorite franchises. The series is taut and entertaining, especially the first ten seasons of the original, and each episode is like a little jewel of a whodunnit, which leads the watcher into a frenzied game of Armchair Sherlock Holmes. In its prime, the show reached millions and is seated at the upper echelon on television history.

Yet, like many franchises, Law and Order has officially overstayed its welcome. The once innovative and chilling plotlines are now being rehashed ad nauseum, with SVU and UK being the only ones still in production.

SVU was a series that, for the first five seasons, was primo. But, now in its 16th season, you can guess what the plot of each episode will be. Most of the time it's a girl getting raped or a child being abducted and the frenzied search to find the villain who, most of the time, is not as talented as Where's Waldo in terms of remaining inconspicuous in a group of suspects.

The plight of Law and Order is simply a framing device for the true issue I want to analyze: trends, entertainment, and, indeed, people who overstay their welcome and who prove that too much of a good thing can be a detriment.

We often see this in celebrity culture, with what I call the "flash in the pan" stars, which have been fostered recently by the advent of internet culture. Chewbacca Mom, "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That" Lady, and Grumpy Cat are prime examples of internet trends that have ballooned into stardom and crashed into obscurity. Grumpy Cat became an entire industry, with books, stuffed animals, and even a movie, before the world finally started to tune out.

Even in the time before the internet, we had trends like this, including Beanie Babies, Pokemon, and Disco Music being prime examples of franchises that overstayed their welcome beyond any comprehension. Ethel Merman's Disco Album was actually the record that killed disco, a fact that I'm very proud of:

Now, you might be asking at this point, what is so bad about trends that "stay too long at the fair?" These trends may seem entertaining on the surface but, underneath, they distract from projects, passions, and entities that deserve that moment in the spotlight. The voice of the herd is the one that is heard most above the din of our culture and, as we all know, the crowd does not always bestow the laurels on the most deserving projects.

Bringing back Law and Order, SVU occupies a slot in primetime on NBC that could be used by a new show that wants to innovate, not forever lie back on its laurels. The SVU regime has to end soon, as every possible plotline and outcome has been repeated over and over, again and again.

In music, the Justin Biebers and Ariana Grandes of the world are getting more exposure than brilliant, dedicated artists like opera soprano Dorothea Roschmann or broadway singer Christine Ebersole. Yet, and this is the most dismaying fact, Bieber and Grande are absolutely awful to their fans, spitting and ignoring them whenever possible and treating them with vehemence rather than gratitude for making them who they are today!

The solution to this is share and speak up when you find something interesting and worthy of more widespread acclaim. It's amazing how loud one person's opinion can be heard, even among the uneducated and sheep-like masses of McFans who jump on board every craze that becomes viral.

Don't be afraid to speak your mind and support what you love, even when it's not part of the mainstream. The moment I started to like classical music, I was hounded by friends and family to get with the times and listen to the Top 40 hits and to not tie myself to a "dying art form." It's the advice that I received the most that I am glad that I ignored just as passionately.

Innovation and true passion should never take a back seat to commercial schlock, yet it will always be a struggle of our time.

The perfect summation of this analysis are the words of Brigid Tenenbaum, a character in the video game Bioshock:

"They say to save one [mind] is to save the world entire."


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