‘Law & Order: SVU’s David Graziano Recalls His Favorite Early Episode

by Caitlin Berard

Law & Order: SVU showrunner David Graziano is brand new to the franchise behind the scenes, but has actually been a fan for years. So much so, in fact, that he once sent a script idea to Neal Baer, showrunner for seasons 3 through 12.

In an interview with TODAY, David Graziano revealed that his interest in crime began after witnessing a murder as a teenager. The grisly incident sparked a passion for crime writing and “the dark parts of human nature.”

When he eventually found Law & Order: SVU, he was immediately hooked. For Graziano, the particular themes of trauma and human psychology in SVU were fascinating.

But the character he most enjoyed? Detective John Munch, played by Richard Belzer, the Special Victims Unit’s endearing conspiracy theorist.

“I was blown away by anything that Munch was in,” Graziano recalled. “He represents all the ideals I have as a writer in terms of writing that crisp dialogue and the patter. And I really like the energy between them.”

And, like all of us, he was drawn in by the dynamic between Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) as well. “I loved all of the episodes with Stabler and Benson,” he added. “Again, because of the patter. They’re playing off each other in that lovely kind of way. There are great shows in TV history like The X-Files, Moonlighting… There’s a musicality to a partnership.”

Could Season 24 of Law & Order: SVU Include a Benson, Stabler, Barba Love Triangle?

Season 23 of Law & Order: SVU was particularly explosive in the romance department. First, you had Benson’s therapist and her close friend and colleague, Amanda Rollins, telling her that she should pursue a romantic relationship with Stabler. But then, Benson and Barba (Raúl Esparza) reunited, sharing a conversation in the finale that some fans assumed suggested a romance beneath the surface for that duo too.

According to SVU‘s executive producer and head writer, Julie Martin, however, any romantic undertones between Barba and Benson were unintentional. “The intention wasn’t to imply a romantic connection between Benson and Barba but a deep love,” she explained. “Love as friends.”

The romance between Benson and Stabler, on the other hand? Wholly deliberate. However, producers have no plans for Benson and Stabler’s relationship to go to the next level anytime soon.

“Everybody knows the storytelling of will they or won’t they,” Martin said. “We like to keep that question going as long as possible. … So I think our job — what they talked about at the end of last season is certainly something that percolates in both of their minds, in Benson’s mind and Rollins’ mind, and when she’ll actually act on that… It won’t be in the first episode.”

Showrunner David Graziano added that they “have a responsibility to Benson” too. For him, it’s important that Benson and Stabler be the best possible versions of themselves for each other before taking the next step.

“I think there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be unpacked first,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in true love prevailing dramatically if not in real life. But before you can have a healthy relationship like that, if you have some monsters under your bed, you have to slay those first.”