It’s been 16 seasons since we first met TV’s NYPD Special Victims Unit detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). This duo spent their days and nights protecting Gotham’s vulnerable citizens from the most despicable the city had to offer. It was gritty and completely unlike anything on television at the time.
But now, not so much. Die-hard fans still love the show, but let’s explore why NBC execs should rethink renewing “Law & Order: SVU” for another season.
It’s Way Too Predictable
Early “SVU” episodes had plot twists and turns that left us guessing. Some of the episodes even ended at the climax and we were left to imagine what happened after the cameras stopped rolling.
These days, every episode is packaged into an hour-long storyline with an ending I can predict after the first five minutes. The only interesting storyline of the past two seasons was Benson’s multi-episode battle with psychopath William Lewis. Even then, it was obvious the face-off would eventually end with Olivia as the victor. When the ideas are stale, it’s time to call it quits.
The “Ripped From the Headlines” Plots Are a Little Too Silly
The storylines of “SVU” were always inspired by current events, but it’s getting to be too much this season. So far, we’ve seen storylines inspired by major headliners like adult film star Belle Knox to embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and former NFL star Ray Rice. It’s fun to see the parallels between the stories but, in the end, it just implies laziness in the writer’s room.
The Chemistry is Off
OK, I’m not about to be one of those “bring back Stabler” fans who still can’t accept his departure, so don’t fret. I think bringing on Detectives Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) and Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) gave a new burst of life to the cast. But they’re three seasons in and their chemistry still doesn’t feel as effortless as Benson and Stabler.
I also think the addition of Detective Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino) seems random. I’m not exactly sure why he was brought on, other than to be a foil to the rest of the cast. And if they brought him in to fill the empty spaces left behind by Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) and Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek), it’s not working.
The Stars Are Abandoning Ship
Minor cast members came and went, but the core “SVU” crew stuck around for over a decade. However, the walls started crashing down after Stabler left the squad in 2011, followed by Munch and Cragen in 2013.
Could Benson go next? It certainly seems like they’re poising for her exit by introducing her new foster son, Noah. But even beyond that, the show wasn’t renewed for this season until the eleventh hour and even showrunner Warren Leight was rumored to be looking for a new job.
It’s time to let go, fans, especially while the show is still on a high. It’ll be painful to say goodbye, but, at this point, so is watching one of NBC’s mainstays evolve into the laughing stock of network television. And when the final credits roll, we can take comfort in knowing we’ll always have reruns.
Photo: Michael Parmelee/NBC