Law & Order SVU Character Review: Casey Novak

*I apologize about the late post. Life, as it sometimes does, got in the way last night.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For many of us, the first few years in our careers can be defining years. They can also be challenging, forcing us to submit to the idea that the reality of our job does not match what we thought it would be. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Casey Novak (Diane Neal) is one of the many District Attorneys who assist the SVU team with putting away criminals. Young, ambitious and serious about her job, Casey keeps her emotions and her private life to herself.

Her job would be simple if she worked for another unit within the NYPD. However, she works with SVU, where the crimes are often physically and emotionally messy. This leads Casey to lean on the steady and reliable law, especially when the case she is trying verges into a morally grey area.

Though she tries to keep her emotions and private life separate from her work, both inevitably bleed into her work. A previous relationship with a mentally ill ex-boyfriend nearly cost her life and affected her judgment when she purposely sabotaged a case involving a schizophrenic child rapist.

Though her work ethic is admired by the SVU detectives and her supervisor, her zeal nearly ruins the professional relationships with her colleagues. But in the end, there is a mutual respect that develops from her drive and her ability to open emotionally to her colleagues.

To sum it up: It takes courage and time to come out of one’s shell, especially in the workplace. But Casey does it in a way that does not feel forced or unnatural. She remains dedicated to her work, but she also bonds with her colleagues in a way that allows them all to do their jobs. That is why, as a character, Casey Novak stands out.

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