TELEVISION REVIEW: Law & Order, Special Victims Unit in its 21st season because it is just that good.


Mariska Hargitay has been playing the role of Captain Oliva Benson on Law & Order, Special Victims Unit since the show’s inception in 1999.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a drama depicting heinous crimes of a sexual nature. Starring Mariska Hargitay, the show has been running for 21 years since its first episode on Sept. 13, 1999. Millions of young viewers have been enjoying the series for their entire lives, as it never gets boring because the cast adds so much personality and life to the show. 

Hargitay, who plays Captain Olivia Benson, has been on the show since its inception. Ever since that first episode, Benson has been one of America’s favorite characters, exuding confidence, strength, patience, and a dogged work ethic. Hargitay sells this character amazingly. 

In season 7, episode 3, titled “911,” Benson receives a call from a little girl who appears to have been kidnapped and is being used for child pornography. The other members of the squad are in disbelief, but Benson strongly believes this is no joke. In the end, the girl was saved through Benson’s patience and sheer willpower. 

There are other notable characters in the series, but another fan favorite is Dominick Carisi played by Peter Scanavino. In season 21 Carisi is an assistant district attorney. He was originally a detective on the show, but he decides that it would be more beneficial to become a prosecutor. 

Scanivino’s strongest appearance in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was in “The Burden of Our Choices.” This episode was mainly focused on a young girl who wanted an abortion after being impregnated by her step-father. She ran away from her home state of Ohio to New York because New York allows for minors to get an abortion. The girl is allowed to have the abortion, but members of the squad had an uphill battle of conscience over the matter.

 In the end, Carisi expresses his view from a religious standpoint. He talks about how his mother was pregnant at the age of 40 and the baby was going to be born with a defect. She aborted the baby even though doing so was against her religion. Scanivino delivered this heart-crushing story with such conviction and with so much heart. 

This show isn’t just a cop show. There are episodes dealing with more than just that. In one episode, the character Amanda Rollins, played by Kelli Giddish, falls deep into a gambling addiction. That episode really shows the dangers addictions can cause for a person, even a cop.  

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit also covers racial inequality in America. In a more recent episode, the squad looks into their own encounters with people of color. The saddest part is that the squad members are unaware of acts that could be perceived as racist. 

There are so many more interesting topics that the show explores. One of the main crimes that is explored on the show is rape. Even with so many episodes centered on that sensitive topic, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit always finds a way to make each story original. 

There are many episodes of the show that call into question the equity of our legal system. One such episode is “Pornstar’s Requiem.” In this episode, a college student who needs money decides to work in pornography. Two male students from the college saw a video she was in and decided to do replicate what they saw in the video with the actress against her will. The woman accuses the two men of raping her.

This was a hard case to sell, but assistant district attorney Raphael Barba, played by Raúl Esparza, was convinced that even though the young lady acts in porn, that doesn’t mean she wanted to have sex with these men. The jury concluded that the men were guilty, but the judge overturned the verdict. He then scolded the young woman and the men walked free. 

The end of the show left many viewers disturbed and in shock. The young lady had to describe everything that happened to her with her parents there in the courtroom. That must’ve been so difficult for her, and she must have felt so embarrassed. The episode brought home the problem with allowing judges to so easily overturn a jury verdict. In this fictitious case, two rapists were allowed to walk free.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is definitely worth the binge. There are so many diverse episodes with such a colorful cast with unbelievable chemistry. The heinous crimes are sickening to watch, but when the culprits are brought to justice, it feels great.