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Law & Order: Organized Crime May Be on the Chopping Block. That Would be a Mistake.


Stabler, Bell, and the rest of the Law & Order: Organized Crime crew might be wrapping up their final case soon.

Law & Order: Organized Crime’s future is in doubt after NBC renewed the two other Law & Order shows and the One Chicago franchise without making a decision about this series.

They haven’t canceled it outright, but this delay in renewal and last year’s decision to order only half a season of Law & Order: Organized Crime are signs that NBC may be leaning toward cancellation, which would be a shame.

The OC Unit Working Together - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 3

Law & Order: Organized Crime’s ratings have never been as high as its sister shows. There are a few possible reasons for that.

The most obvious is that it airs at 10/9c, which may be too late for some viewers.

Stabler Learns What's Next - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

With three Law & Order shows airing back-to-back, viewers who are exhausted from the events of the first two shows might decide to turn off the TV,  hurting live ratings, and if they don’t catch up in a timely manner, it could also hurt delayed viewing scores.

Law & Order: Organized Crime Has Always Been More Bingeworthy

The original conception was brilliant but it would have been better off as a Netflix series. It had one overarching plot for the first eight episodes, frustrating viewers who were used to single-episode stories wrapped up within an hour.

If this had been a streaming-only series where viewers could binge the entire eight episodes at once, that would have reduced frustration, and Law & Order: Organized Crime could have skyrocketed to the top of streaming service ratings.

Brotherly Support - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

Instead, the series named its sixth showrunner in three years ahead of the 2023-2024 season, trying yet again to revamp the series into something that broadcast viewers would love.

Adding Stabler’s brothers has been a strong move, but the long plot arcs still make Law & Order: Organized Crime shine.

NBC seems ready to throw in the towel, but a better move would be to drop a complete arc’s worth of episodes on Peacock at a time so that viewers can enjoy the entire story. That might be what gets people excited instead of frustrated or confused.

Moving to streaming-only would also allow the writers to push the envelope as far as it needs to be pushed with the violence and language used.

Organized crime cases are not pretty, and Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 1 contained some graphic scenes, but it could be made even more realistic if it was a Peacock-only series.

A Gift for Bernie - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

Combining family drama with ongoing cases might appeal to fans of The Sopranos or ther cable shows that involved mob violence.

Streaming is a stronger option than cable because it allows viewers to watch as many episodes as they want of a season at a time. Still, there is a market for gritty shows like Law & Order: Organized Crime that NBC has been unable to tap into by putting it on broadcast television.

The Plots and Dialogue Elevate This Series Above Most Broadcast Shows

It’s a shame that the long plot arcs don’t work well on broadcast TV because they offer some of the best television offers.

Keith Carradine’s recent guest appearance is only one example.

A Dangerous Interruption - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

Throughout four episodes, Stabler and his team secretly investigated a small-town judge who had absolute power, including over his police chief daughter, while Stabler was himself under investigation by an equally corrupt IAB agent who wanted revenge for a death he blamed Stabler for.

Emotional and evocative dialogue enhanced this already fascinating story, especially after Police Chief Meredith Bonner realized her father had killed her mother and turned her brother into a monster that Meredith had to kill to save Stabler’s life.

Chief Bonner: I wasn’t innocent. I was blind. I looked the other way my whole life to protect him.
Stabler: While your father was protecting Eric.
Chief Bonner: Eric. He was still there, at the house.
Stabler: Do you think he saw your father kill your mother?
Chief Bonner: Monsters make monsters.

I love stories set in small towns that seem idyllic on the surface but are brimming with crime and corruption behind closed doors, and the Bonner storyline was one of the best in the genre.

The finale of this arc on Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8 was so well done that it made me furious that this series might be canceled.

A Vtial Meeting - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

Law & Order: Organized Crime Is Not Just The Stabler Show

When the series premiered, its tagline was “Stabler Comes Home.”

This got attention from fans who had missed Christopher Meloni’s character since he left Law & Order: SVU following Season 12, and the occasional but ongoing subplot about Stabler and Benson’s potential romance has kept those fans talking.

Unfortunately, that may have turned people off who aren’t a fan of Stabler or this relationship. Yet Law & Order: Organized Crime isn’t as Stabler-centered as it may seem.

Stabler may be one of the protagonists, but it’s become more of an ensemble series over the years.

Cragen Helps Stabler - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

One of the most heartbreaking moments was on Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3 Episode 22 when detective Jamie Whelan died, and that was especially traumatic for Jet  Slootmaekers, who had already lost one love interest to death earlier in the season before developing feelings for Whelan.

This trend has continued, with Season 4 adding Vargas, an AI expert who is not a full member of the team, and creating division within the team because not everyone likes him or the idea of using AI to aid in the investigative process.

Law & Order: Organized Crime Features One of the Most Diverse Commanding Officers On TV

Dick Wolf shows do a reasonably good job of featuring diversity, and Law & Order: Organized Crime is one of the best. Ayanna Bell is a unique character on crime shows because she is one of the few, if not the only, to be a Black lesbian in charge of a unit.

While Bell checks an awful lot of boxes, she’s not a token character in the slightest. The series has explored in depth the way her different identities intersect and how being a commanding officer who is a member of more than one marginalized group has been difficult for her.

Bonner's Days are Numbered - Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8

It would be a shame to lose that.

While LGBTQ+ characters are becoming more common, there are fewer Black LGBTQ+ people on TV than white and even fewer of those who are also in positions of power. The only other one I can think of who ticks any of these boxes is Regina on East New York, which was canceled far too soon.

It would be a shame if the same happened to Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Over to you, Organized Crime fanatics. What are your reasons for wanting this show to stay on the air? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!

Law & Order: Organized Crime airs on NBC on Thursdays at 10/9c. New episodes drop on Peacock the day after they air.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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