Love Letter to Law & Order: SVU
Law & Order: SVU has been on television for 17 Seasons – the age of legal consent in New York State! What? Don’t act like you’re not in love with SVU, and don’t act shocked! It’s been 17 seasons of twisted plotlines, tense standoffs, mistaken identity, snatched babies and jaw-dropping twists. SVU is the longest-lasting spinoff in the Law & Order franchise, the only one left standing, and that definitely doesn’t mean that people don’t like it, if you catch my drift.
So why do we love SVU so damn much?
This New Yorker loves that it’s close to home. A recent episode showed a (doomed) kid walking to my subway station and I thought, HEY, that’s my neighborhood! Sure enough…kid lived in Greenpoint! I was all “I know that laundromat! I know that subway entrance!”
Live in New York long enough, and there’s going to be a kidnapped kid’s body “found in your building” on an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Law of averages. Kinda makes you feel like you’re the only girl in the world.
Law & Order: SVU is “ripped from the headlines” but it’s always ahead of its time, tackling serious social issues year ahead of their mainstream notice. Even when cases are “ripped from the headlines,” they always try to twist the storyline to make you think. By the time Dick Wolf’s name appears on the final shot, you’re left to wonder “Hey, why don’t we have laws protecting trans individuals from violence and discrimination? Why don’t we have laws to punish people for posting revenge porn and doxing?” Making us aware and making us care is what SVU does best.
SVU also educates about safe sex, violence against women, and other important issues. Little asides to the story tell us how to avoid contracting and spreading diseases (one thing I learned from M.E. Warner: condoms for oral!) and teach us about the statistics on violence against women (Benson taught me that a woman’s risk of partner violence increases while she’s pregnant, I DID NOT KNOW THAT). SVU has taught me how to be a better witness and what to do in an emergency (scratch deep, get DNA!). Many episodes show victims being walked through the “rape kit” process – why? I can only imagine this is intentional, to demystify the process of reporting a rape and encourage victms to come forward by showing them what to expect.
Law & Order: SVU, thank you. Congratulations on turning 17! In four more seasons, I’ll buy you a drink!