Hannah Montana Creator Joins Law & Order: OC Team

With the news that Barry O'Brien is joining the creative team 'Law and Order: OC', what does this mean for the show's creative direction?

Carly Horne
17th March 2022
Image Credit: IMDb
On February 28th 2022, Vulture reported that Law and Order's first female showrunner, Ilene Chaiken, would be leaving Law and Order: Organized Crime. Chaiken is to be replaced with none other than Barry O'Brien - known for his role in creating Disney's Hannah Montana. While some fans are concerned over what the loss will mean for the spin-off's creative direction, others have taken to Twitter with golden memes.

With O'Brien's creative direction, as seen on Hannah Montana, I'm seriously looking forward to seeing the way the crossovers work out, as well as how the storylines are tied up.

The budding romance of Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) with Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has been almost 25 years in the works. Though Ilene Chaiken was instrumental in their relationship developing in 'the Christmas Episode', there has been absolutely no follow-through in subsequent episodes.

Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler (Law & Order: Organised Crime) - Image Credit: IMDb

Now, we know that O'Brien is capable of a friends-to-lovers arc - evidenced by the development of Lilly Oken and Oliver Oken's relationship throughout the run of Hannah Montana. Olivia and Elliot may be reeling from the impact of their respective traumas; Elliot from his wife's murder last year and Olivia's issues with abandonment and post-traumatic stress. Though it may be a darker path to finding one another, I have every faith in a fairytale ending for the respective police officers.

Romance is not the only task for the Hannah Montana creator, and making the transition from writing teenage popstars to organised crime might be a little bit of a culture shock for the writer. Luckily, O'Brien's repertoire extends to a stint as a writer and executive producer on CSI: Miami.

The Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) arc, which informed much of the series' plot, was left with more loose ends than resolutions.

Who tried to run Olivia off of the road at the start of this series? Why were there so many threats to her life, only for Olivia not to be mentioned in Dylan McDermott's final appearance? How did Wheatley know "the one true love" of Elliot's life? Is Richard Wheatley really dead?

I don't recall Hannah Montana featuring much in the way of organised cybercrime, nor do I remember over two decades of pent-up sexual frustration between two geriatric police officers in the Disney Channel hit. But over a career, as established as Barry O'Brien's, I am excited to see where the show's development goes from here.

And I'm not the only one.

The news of changes to the writing team was met with mixed responses on social media.

@ladystabler on Twitter posted: "My entire timeline becoming an OC/Hannah Montana mashup is not what I expected for Friday night on the bird app, but I'm loving it" while the fandom's timeline also featured a variety of edits with the Hannah Montana theme covering the shows opening credits, for example.

Frustration has been building amongst fans of the franchise for a while now, but for some fans, the news of O'Brien joining the team was the final straw.

@amockingbird (also on Twitter) said: "I quit long ago, but they just got rid of the showrunner which is never a good sign. And the new one created Hannah Montana?!?". It appears some fans just can't get on board with the changes to personnel over at Wolf Entertainment.

Whether this comes as good or bad news, as a meme or a change of great importance - I for one believe Barry O'Brien will be a breath of fresh air for the franchise's newest show. Law and Order: Organised Crime already offers beautiful cinematography and a faster-paced, more exciting alternative to the original shows. I hope O'Brien can also match this standard in his writing and keep the show going for years to come.

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