The episode, set to air in 2018, is "hitting Harvey Weinstein head on," according to "SVU" executive producer Michael Chernuchin. He discussed the storyline with EW, teasing both similarities and differences. The plot will unfold in the airline industry rather than Hollywood, but we'll see core elements remain the same. One similarity, Chernuchin indicated, will be the "boys' club"-type environment that can be harmful to women.
"It's a real important episode about the rape culture in an industry, and we wanted to try stretch the law to criminalize that sort of environment," he told EW.
Interestingly, the "SVU" episode was already in progress at the time the Weinstein scandal erupted. As numerous women spoke out and accused the producer of various forms of sexual misconduct (Weinstein denies any allegations of non-consensual sex), the show's writers saw parallels. The allegations ended up influencing their writing.
"We got all of our Harvey stuff out with airline pilots," Chernuchin said.
In the past, "SVU" has used other topical issues for inspiration. When sexual assault allegations against President Donald Trump (all of which he denies) surfaced during his presidential campaign, "SVU" wrote an episode about a politician facing similar circumstances. However, the episode, "Unstoppable," ultimately didn't air.
"Law & Order: SVU" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.