Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Law And Order: SVU episode "Guardians And Gladiators." Read at your own risk!
Law And Order: SVU returned to NBC for Season 22, and much like other network shows getting a late start to the fall season, it decided to tackle some of the big events that hit the world in 2020. Of course, this meant portraying a New York City that is struggling to control the spread of COVID-19, though some fans think the show could've done a better job when it came to mask-wearing.
Considering the location, and the fact that Law & Order: SVU is filmed in New York City, some may have assumed that the show would go the extra mile to use proper precautions. Unfortunately, the characters in the Season 22 premiere fell well short of that, frequently removing their masks and not keeping their distance to prevent the spread of illness.
Things got off to a bad start with mask mandates in the opening minutes, in which a few officers can be seen without masks despite over a dozen people in the immediate surrounding area. Following that, medical personnel arrived to pick up a victim with traumatic injuries, only to be stopped by a maskless Olivia and Fin to ask about the details of the injuries. The scenes left viewers confused about exactly when the episode was taking place, especially considering New York City has required face coverings for all residents medically able over the age of 2.
In a time of quarantine and pandemic, audiences are more aware than ever when a show isn't necessarily operating according to the real world. In the real world of 2020, people (hopefully) aren't removing their mask to deliver a line to strangers.
There was even a point at which a doctor was explaining a patient's injuries and the difficulty of explaining it to his religious parents, and he pulled up his face shield to address everyone on the situation! It's possible there was a conscious decision or need for actors' faces to be seen or fear they wouldn't be heard, but the solution to have characters unmasked seemed like a bad choice given the response.
The question I'm wondering is whether or not Law & Order: SVU will continue to hit on COVID throughout Season 22, and if it will, whether or not it will maintain the same level of inconsistency. If so, Season 22 may certainly draw the series a lot more critics, as the tweets from fans wondering why the mask-wearing was so inconsistent continue to pile up.
We do know the first few episodes of Law & Order: SVU will tackle current events, and the premiere saw a storyline created that will feature Olivia questioning if she's a product of a biased police system. Eventually, the show will return to other storylines that were touched on in Season 21, but for the time being, it's sticking with the present. Hopefully, either the characters get a bit more serious with the mask use, or the series may be in for a rough couple of weeks.
Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on the new season, and the latest happening in television and movies.