John Oliver on Running Into ‘Law & Order’ Stars at Emmys After Slamming Franchise

Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, John Oliver at 2022 Emmys
Chris Haston/NBC (2)

John Oliver, on Last Week Tonight, criticized Law & Order just one day before he and two of the franchise’s stars appeared at the 2022 Emmys on September 12.

Oliver, who won an Emmy for Variety Talk Series, was asked in the press room if he’d run into the stars — Mariska Hargitay of SVU and Christopher Meloni of Organized Crime presented Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. “Not yet,” Oliver said, adding, “It’s almost like I hadn’t considered the Emmys were on NBC this year. I don’t know how that will go. I hope it’s OK.”

As for why he chose to do a segment about the franchise’s positive take on law enforcement, he said he did so “just because it’s such an iconic program. I hope we made it pretty clear [the] separation between not just what the cast and the writers are doing and what Dick Wolf wants but also what the problem really is. It’s the ad for the defective product. I hope the story speaks for itself.”

During the segment on the September 11 episode of his show, Oliver said, “Crucially, [Law & Order] makes a lot of choices that significantly distort the big picture of police.” He added, “Law & Order is never going to grapple with the reality of policing in a meaningful way. Because fundamentally, the person who is responsible for Law & Order and its brand is Dick Wolf, and he knows exactly what he wants his shows to do and, importantly, not to do.”

The Emmys introduced Hargitay and Meloni as presenters by having them do a bit where they “caught” someone trying to steal an Emmy. They then teased fans with an almost-kiss — some have wanted to see Benson and Stabler get together for years — before turning to the nominees.

— Reporting by Michael Maloney