Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs its 400th episode tonight, February 8, at 9pm on NBC.
It’s hard to believe there can be a show on TV that started on September 20, 1999 that is still so relevant today. Tonight, Law and Order: SVU airs its 400th episode and devoted fans have been watching consistently for over 17 years. Why? And why have new generations watched as well?
Certainly, the cases ripped from the headlines are compelling and the vehicle of a procedural show makes it new and fresh each week. As in many Dick Wolf shows, writers really have their fingers on the pulse of current events and timely issues.
However, I’d argue that what has kept the viewers intrigued is watching the character of Olivia Benson develop as the lead member of the SVU team. What began as a show about a team of detectives (Benson and Elliot Stabler) became a story about a woman trying to balance career and personal life, handling the trauma of dealing with victims of sex crimes, and more recently becoming a single mother. Mariska Hargitay carries the show on her shoulders and has been rewarded with a loyal fan base, as well as an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Her devotion to victims of sexual assault has led her to found the Joyful Heart Foundation, and viewers relate to her passion for the role.
Over the years, Hargitay has been supported by various terrific actors. The chemistry always worked no matter who comprised the team. The current group (Rollins, Carisi, Fin and DA Barba) are doing a wonderful job maintaining the show’s energy and edge.
Their stories have become our stories. Here’s to many more!