This may be the best TV news so far this year. On Friday, NBC’s Law & Order: SVU was picked up for a record-breaking 21st season, making it the longest-running live-action, primetime series in TV history. That’s honestly incredible, but it’s not the only big news to come from this renewal. Season 21 makes Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) the longest-running female character in a primetime, live-action series. We’ve loved her since she first appeared on our screens in 1999 and that love has not diminished at all in the two decades since.
“I’m deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today,” Hargitay said in a statement on Friday. “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.”
Entertainment Tonight notes that Hargitay has earned eight Emmy nominations and one win for her portrayal of Lt. Benson, all of which are well-deserved. As Hargitay says in her statement, Law & Order: SVU tackles important and necessary stories that are often based on actual news headlines. The show deals with violent sexual offenders from myriad backgrounds and angles and each episode brings something new to the conversation.
In a statement, NBC Entertainment co-chairmen Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks said, “We tip our cap to Dick Wolf, Mariska Hargitay and the amazing cast and crew of SVU, who now all go into the record book. This incredible run is an example of what happens when producers, writers and actors all come together and create a show that, year after year, speaks to its audience in a powerful way. We couldn’t be more proud of this remarkable achievement.”
SVU creator and executive producer Dick Wolf added, “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 No. 1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend.”
Law & Order: SVU returns to NBC on April 4.