In times of crisis, like a pandemic, a society needs clear, swift, moral leadership. We must look to doctors and epidemiologists for direction on how to manage rates of coronavirus infection. We must confront how inadequate our systems of support are for the most vulnerable among us. Single-payer health care becomes not an abstract goal, but an urgent necessity, and we can begin to agitate for measures like a moratorium on student-loan payments and evictions while the financial consequences of the pandemic threaten those living always on the brink of disaster.
And while we take responsible steps to protect not just ourselves but those around us by practicing social distancing and self-quarantine, we can look for leadership from those well-versed in how to navigate long stretches spent indoors: chronic depressives like me.
I feel an ethical duty to help shepherd the normally active and busy through what’s coming. People are already anxious and afraid, and insofar as any of us are able we should do what we can to help. This is why I am calling on the executives at NBCUniversal to do what is right, and immediately make all 20 seasons of original Law & Order available for streaming on all platforms.
The legendary producer Dick Wolf’s procedural masterpiece, which was on the air from 1990 to 2010 and spawned numerous spin-offs, has been notoriously absent from streaming services since leaving Netflix in 2014. Apparently the sheer volume of episodes makes it inordinately expensive for the services to host, but to this I say: now is not the time to ask how we can afford to do something, but to ask how we can afford not to.
While uncertainty and despair ravage all aspects of American life, we desperately need the distraction and comfort of what we know. Yes, we may be physically distant, but together we can share the joy of watching Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) learn about the internet, hearing over and over again about the son-of-a-bitch dad of Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), sighing with a deep satisfaction when they bring in Elizabeth Olivet (Carolyn McCormick) over Emil Skoda (J.K. Simmons), saying as one “holy shit I forgot Claire Danes was in this.”
If anything has been made clear recently, it’s the extent to which we cannot think of ourselves as independent creatures, alone and impermeable to each other. Dick Wolf, I ask you to do what is right, and not only help us get through long nights on the couch under quarantine but remind us that all our hearts can beat together as one, collective, Dun-DUN!
And when we step back into the world and let the sun shine on our faces, perhaps we can finally have the long overdue conversation about how Ben Stone is actually the best Executive Assistant District Attorney for New York County.