NBC’s primetime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes are often based on high profile ripped from the headlines cases. Sometimes the outcomes are reworked to be suitable for television, but for the most part they always leave the viewer wondering. Because of the current storylines, it keeps the show pertinent and also puts a sort of timestamp on it. Law & Order SVU has for instance referenced Twitter as one of the central points of one investigation. Twitter has become popular over the last year so when they show reruns a few years down the road, you as a viewer will be able to recognize when the episode was made.
Unlike the other Law & Order series, Special Victims Unit is more character driven. The two main characters are Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Each of their back stories as to why they joined the police force resonates in each episode through their actions and decisions. Stabler is a frustrated cop who has to deal with his four children as well as maintaining a healthy relationship with his wife. Benson was conceived when her mother was raped and has vowed that she will catch rapists and bring them to justice. SVU is intriguing and twisted, which makes me enjoy it even more. Other detectives bring different personalities and backstories to the show as well. All in all, most of the characters have no real family that they are close to with the exception of Stabler—their division and work is their family.
Law & Order never really brings closer to the end of each episode. But at the same time, it’s not a true cliffhanger. The producers leave the show hanging to allow the viewer to judge for themselves what should happen. More often than not, there’s a conviction and a final plot twist in the last fifteen minutes of each show. Someone shoots someone after court is adjourned or someone ends up dead. I believe the show wants you to see the process and how life isn’t always tied up in a nice bow at the end of and hour. The world we live in is messed up, and a true crime drama should reflect just that. I would think it’d be tough to come up with new ideas and stories but somehow the writers for the show never fall short of mystery, suspense, and craziness.
I asked a friend one time why he loved watching the show COPS so much. His response threw me for a loop but then I understood. He simply replied, “it makes me feel normal seeing these people do stupid stuff.” I’m not into COPS, but the same does apply for Law & Order SVU and me. Somehow, it makes my life feel normal and that there are bigger things that I should be worried about. People are getting shot, molested, raped and here I am worrying about seemingly insignificant things every day. I’m excited for the new season that just started up again. The show transports me from a perfect world to that of a messed up one.
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