After Law And Order Was Renewed For Season 24, I Love Mehcad Brooks’ Thoughts On What The Fans Want

 Mehcad Brooks as Jalen Shaw in Law & Order Season 23x06.
Mehcad Brooks as Jalen Shaw in Law & Order Season 23×06.

The Dick Wolf dramas on NBC have been going strong for many years by this point, so it wasn’t too surprising to see Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU earn early renewals to return in the 2024-2025 TV schedule. Still, getting that news with plenty of time to spare in the current TV season has to be a relief for fans across the board. With Law & Order now officially set to return for Season 24, I looked back at a conversation with actor Mehcad Brooks about the show’s fanbase.

I spoke with Mehcad Brooks, who plays Detective Jalen Shaw, earlier in the 2024 TV season for an episode that was both intense and emotional for his character. At the time, he shared the element of filming that particular episode that resulted in needing to “go home and unravel.” Just weeks later, Law & Order received news of the renewal. His comments from back in February, in response to my question of whether he enjoys getting to tackle deep character work on a usually plot-heavy procedural, ring quite true now that Season 24 is confirmed:

I feel like we’re kind of getting into the world of procedural hybrid in a way. I’ve never seen a procedural show that calls back what happened a season ago to a character, that comes up to surface for them within the context of the case of the week. And so I think kudos and hats off to the writers. They’re the ones who are driving this ship in a way. Our fan base loves the procedural framework, but they love to go deep with our characters as well. And I think that our writers room has found a magical balancing act, truly. And I’m really excited to get to explore more of that.

Law & Order circa 2024 had to evolve from Law & Order circa 1990, and that means more character work for fans as part of what Mehcad Brooks dubbed “procedural hybrid.” The particular episode of Season 23 that he was referencing was called “On the Ledge” and is currently available streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.

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While it didn’t pick up on a specific case from Season 22, it did pick up on Shaw’s frustrations with the justice system failing Black men and his colleagues’ inability to truly understand. I asked Brooks if it’s meaningful to him that Shaw is the character through which Law & Order addresses issues of race that other shows might avoid, and he responded:

Absolutely. I welcome it. I have my own racial trauma that I’m dealing with, and justice is therapeutic. When I got this job, it was therapeutic for me. It was therapeutic for some of the trauma and the depression and the anxiety and the panic attacks that I was having throughout my life, when I didn’t realize that it was based on that.

Mehcad Brooks went on to explain instances from his formative years that resulted in racial trauma, including when he was “detained at eight years old, put in handcuffs, and shoved up against walls for hide and go seek.” The actor shared that exploring stories through “a law enforcement lens” allowed him to “heal [his] relationship with policing and the idea of policing” because “Black America is not against police or policing. We’re against police brutality.” Brooks continued:

I take it on as a welcome responsibility, and selfishly, every time we get to tell some of these stories, I get to let some of that go. I get to heal a little bit. That restorative justice that we get to put on the screen is healing for me. And it’s also healing for millions of other Americans, and I’m more than happy to carry that mantle.

Just as he sees the storytelling that combines character with procedural as appealing to fans, Mehcad Brooks sees the opportunity to tell stories that shed light on race as “healing for millions” of people. Shaw was partnered with a newcomer in Season 23 following the departure of Jeffrey Donovan as Frank Cosgrove and Jack McCoy was replaced by Scandal‘s Tony Goldwyn as DA Nicholas Baxter.

This has been a season of change, and now fans can rest easy knowing that it also won’t be the last. For now, check out the promo for the next episode:

Law & Order returns on Thursday, April 11 in its usual 8 p.m. ET time slot on NBC, followed by Law & Order: SVU at 9 p.m. and Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. At the time of writing, Organized Crime is the only one of the L&O shows that has not yet been renewed, but hopefully Season 5 of that series will be on the way.

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