“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has long been a staple tradition on primetime television.
The crime drama series follows Captain Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, as the leader of a Special Victims Unit in a New York City police department. Over the course of 22 seasons, Olivia Benson and her crew have handled cases dealing with rape, pedophilia, domestic violence, child abuse, and other crimes requiring specialist handling.
Mariska Hargitay has been the show’s noble leader for all 22 seasons. While other cast members have come and gone over the years, she’s remained the heart and glue of the show. She also happened to pass an pretty historic record.
Mariska Hargitay Broke ‘Gunsmoke’ Record
According to Primetimer, the “Law & Order: SVU” star is the longest-running actor in a live-action primetime series. It’s a record that Hargitay continues to add to each year, as “Law & Order: SVU” surpasses the heights of its parent show “Law & Order.”
She passed “Gunsmoke” and James Arness and Milburn Stone a season back. Both actors starred for their 20 seasons on the “Gunsmoke” series. Hargitay previously broke the 19-year record set by actress Amanda Blake on “Gunsmoke” as well. Kelsey Grammer also played Frasier Crane for 20 seasons combined between “Cheers” and “Frasier.”
“I’m deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today. The longevity and continued success of SVU is a testament not only to the show’s powerful storytelling and ability to connect with viewers, but to its necessity. We have told important stories for 20 years, and we will continue to tell them,” Hargitay said in 2019 in a statement.
What also sets Hargitay apart from other long-term characters is the social importance of her character. As Olivia Benson, the SVU star has been an advocate for women and has been an active member in the movement to end sexual violence toward women.
“As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women. She is an enduring champion of the movement to end sexual violence, and dozens of episodes have dealt with the very same issues that have shifted into the spotlight in this country in the past two years. Mariska is a delight as #1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend,” the show’s creator Dick Wolf said.
‘Law & Order: SVU’ Saves Girl’s Life
The show has long been successful as the issues in “Law & Order: SVU” continue to be dramatic and influential.
A real-life example is evident when an 11-year-old girl credited the show for saving her life. According to an interview on NBC’s “Today Show,” the young girl marked her attacker and potential kidnapper with blue slime. She claimed it “might be better evidence if the cops did find him.”
Alyssa was at the bus stop in Florida when the man exited a vehicle with a knife and approached her. She ran, but he caught up to her. She struggled and eventually broke free and both of them fell to the ground. Alyssa ran away and the man got back in the car. Not before she covered his arms in the blue slime she was playing with, however.
The blue slime eventually helped authorities arrest Jared Paul Stanga. He was charged with the attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravated assault with a weapon, and simple battery.
The young girl told news outlets that she believed Olivia Benson would say, “You’re brave and good job!”