While the purpose of Law & Order: SVU is to entertain its audience, the show also serves as a reminder that some of the scariest monsters are the ones in our neighborhoods.
For 22 seasons, the crime drama has covered some of the darkest, most twisted crimes involving domestic violence, child abuse and rape. For that reason, only the most skilled and emotionally strong detectives are a part of the team. Among them is Detective Olivia Benson played by Mariska Hargitay.
In her role on Law & Order: SVU, Hargitay portrays the strong-willed and empathetic detective at the forefront of the unit. Detective Benson, herself, is the product of her mother’s rape. Throughout the show, Benson constantly goes out of her way to provide a support system for victims in need. And when criminals are still on the loose, she doesn’t rest until they’re in handcuffs.
Sometimes, though, the crimes the team faces are too jarring to forget, and in those cases, we see how emotionally taxing the job of an SVU detective is. Even behind the scenes, Hargitay reported that just playing the role of a detective can be difficult. But there’s one type of crime, in particular, that affects the actors most.
“The show is about the worst things people do to each other in the darkest part of humanity, which means many stories are difficult. But when a child suffers — those hit us hardest,” Hargitay shared with TV Insider.
‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Remarks on How Show Has Evolved
With over 20 seasons under its belt, Law & Order: SVU is still as successful and relevant today as it was during its first season. But not everything is the same as it was in 1999. Main characters have come and gone on the show, the most obvious being Olivia Benson’s original partner, Elliott Stabler. More than just changes in the cast, though, the show’s core purpose has evolved as well. And Mariska Hargitay is proud to report that the series has kept up with the needs of the world.
“What is beautiful is that the show has evolved from ‘Let’s shine a light on these issues’ to ‘Time’s up, let’s make changes and stop these issues,'” Hargitay shared. “I think the culture is catching up.”
Because of this mentality, Law & Order: SVU strives to highlight corruption and crisis within the justice system as well as just taboo crimes and convictions.
As well as spreading awareness and changing conversations, another component to the show’s success is the cast’s personal connection to the storyline. Her character reminds viewers of the goodness in the world and the people that devote their lives to helping victims.
“Basically, we’re telling compelling stories that are close to our hearts, our souls and our core,” Hargitay said. “Olivia is a champion of healing — the mother figure we all want.”