Law & Order actress pens passionate letter against online backlash

Isabel Gillies
Isabel Gillies as Kathy Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Law & Order fans are passionate, but some may have taken it a bit too far recently. 

Isabel Gillies, who played Kathy Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has taken to social media to protest the reaction to a recent plot development on Law & Order: Organized Crime which shows some fans may have gotten too intense in the hopes of a romance between Benson and Stabler. 

Kathy Stabler’s history

As Law & Order: Special Victims Unit began, Stabler was married to high school sweetheart Kathy for nearly 20 years. It seemed a good marriage with kids, but Stabler’s work with SVU took its toll. 

Stabler could cross the line, such as when Kathy told him in confidence about a student being assaulted, and Stabler insisted on pursuing it. It got worse as they separated, and Kathy even filed for divorce but later changed her mind. Nevertheless, they were together and having another child when Stabler left the unit after the Season 12 finale.

In the two-part crossover that introduced Law & Order: Organized Crime, Kathy was mortally wounded in an attack and died in the hospital. Her death weighed heavily on Elliot as he eventually arrested Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) for setting it all up.

Last Thursday’s two-hour Law & Order: Organized Crime, Stabler went to Benson to talk about a letter he’d given her in Season 1. He revealed that Kathy wrote it about how Stabler and Benson always got in the way of who they were truly meant to be with, and Stabler hoped Benson found a more deserving man. 

Elliot added that he did write the last bit on how “in a parallel universe, it would always be you and me.”

While pushing the possible Benson/Stabler romance, the backlash against Kathy for trying to come between them proved enough for Gillies to speak out.

Gillies on the Kathy hate

Isabel Gillies
Isabel Gillies as Kathy Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Taking to Twitter and her Substack feed, Gillies posted a long letter discussing the sudden wave of complaints on Kathy, which ranged from calling her “selfish” to unprintable insults. 

“My feed, which is normally pretty sleepy, a retweeted article here, a few shoutouts about a recipe there, was a stream of eye-popping-bile posts, at me! My character, the deceased Kathy Stabler, was trending on Twitter. Gliding over links and threads, memes and emojis, I started, well, crying. “KATHY STABLER IS BURNING IN THE DEEPEST PART OF HELL.” Scroll, scroll… “YOU DESERVE TO BLOW UP!” Scroll, scroll… “Good morning to absolutely everyone except Kathy Stabler’s ghost.” Scroll, scroll… “This girl is the nastiest, skank b— I’ve ever met!” Met? I’m sorry, have we met?”

Gillies noted she was “in tears” after reading the assault on her for a role she hasn’t played regularly in over a decade. While she was aware this was a small minority of the Law & Order fandom, it still hurt to have them direct such hate against her.

“Some want Elliot and Olivia to get it on, and some don’t. There’s a divide, and even though Kathy Stabler has departed from this earth, she’s still smack in the middle of it. And there was this letter which to this day, I still don’t know what the heck was in it – truth –  I don’t care. Anyway, I don’t watch “Law & Order.” And while I love Mariska and Chris, if their characters were falling for each other or not wasn’t my concern. Once they buried me, I continued on my life as Isabel Gillies, mom, wife, mahjong player.”

Gillies thanked Mariska Hargitay for giving her advice. “I called Mariska. Do you get this?  Mariska is one of the most empathetic, loving people on this earth. Hard to imagine she has much experience with vitriol, but sadly, she’s had plenty of it.”

Gillies discussed the “T.H.I.N.K.” acronym (Is it thoughtful? Is it honest? Is it interesting? Is it necessary? Is it kind?) and pressed how people should use that more. 

“Can we please all take it down a notch? I often feel the urge to spew a nasty rant as much as the next person, but if a second-tier character on a primetime drama can be the victim of a ferocious online melt-down because of make-believe, it kills me to think what actual important civil servants must have to endure. It seems we’re all screaming at each other all day, every day. Is it worth it? Can we stop? Can we think?”

Gillies is supported by other Law & Order figures

Gillies’ letter soon gained support from others involved with the series. Hargitay retweeted it and pressed how “You ask if we can we stop and think. You’re evidence that we can do both. You also answer to the question, “Can we write? Can we use words intelligently enough to disrupt the noise?” 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunner Warren Leight added his regrets that Gilles had to undergo this ordeal.

“I’m so sorry IsabelGillies — a truly gracious, wonderful person — was subjected to abuse by this toxic corner of our SVU/OC fan base. She is not her character, her character is no longer alive, and the scene on OC was written and shot without her involvement. Please stop.”

Christopher Meloni’s own reply was short and sweet: “I love my wife.”

While fans are hopeful that this season brings the Benson/Stabler romance to the forefront, it shouldn’t mean the horrible trashing of Kathy or especially the actress playing her.

Gillies’s words of “stop and think” hopefully will have a good impact on some viewers.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 and Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 air Thursdays on NBC. 

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