Why Mariska Hargitay Is the Best Part of ‘Law & Order: SVU’

Mariska Hargitay has been on the hit series Law & Order: SVU from the very beginning of the show’s creation. Det. Olivia Benson has been taking out the bad guys and getting justice for the victims for 21 seasons now with no signs of stopping. She is a critical element to the success of SVU and arguably the best part of the series.

Mariska Hargitay has been around since the very beginning

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay as Lt Olivia Benson | Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Hargitay’s character, Olivia Benson, has shown her vulnerability and can-do attitude from the start. She was partnered with Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) in the early days. They were an amazing team together for over a decade. Eventually, Meloni left the series and Hargitay’s star really started to shine even brighter. She became even more central to the story and one of the last true veterans on SVU.

Olivia Benson relates to victims like no one else can

Benson relates to the victims as no one else can. She understands the system and has seen it all. The product of rape, Olivia Benson uses her life skills and foundation as a springboard to help others. Her mother was an alcoholic and she had to grow up faster than most kids. Throughout all the turmoil she faced, she uses it to help victims of assault and violence get justice.

She is relatable and knows how to talk with the victims. The show has even seen her go to therapy over the years herself to deal with the trauma she’s experienced. It makes her easier to talk to and helps victims feel they can better trust her.

Mariska Hargitay started a foundation after working on ‘SVU’ for years

Mariska Hargitay and Nazanin Boniadi
Mariska Hargitay and Nazanin Boniadi on the set of ‘Law & Order SVU’ | Bauzen/GC Images

Hargitay is clearly just a good person all around. She’s used her celebrity for good and her experiences on the show to start her own foundation, The Joyful Heart. Hargitay had her eyes opened to what happens to victims after experiencing assault. The statistics are mind-boggling and she knew something needed to be done to help victims heal.

She was receiving letters from survivors sharing their stories with her in a way to promote healing. Hargitay wanted to answer these people and help them in any way she could, so she created her foundation. The mission of Joyful Heart is, “to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.”

Hargitay’s character is a strong woman

Hargitay has been an executive producer on the series since 2016. She spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her work on SVU that she’s clearly so very proud of. And who wouldn’t be?

Hargitay’s character Benson is actually assaulted in season 9 and not all fans were on board with that. Olivia Benson is a very strong, independent woman and many people were unhappy with the thought of anything like that happening to her.

“[Benson’s assault in the ninth season] was a big conversation because so many people didn’t like the idea of Olivia getting assaulted because she’s so strong,” Hargitay said. “And that’s the reason that I wanted it to happen. That was a really important message to send — that sexual assault doesn’t discriminate.”

There are so many reasons to love Law & Order: SVU. Over the years, it just keeps getting better and more relatable as time goes on. Mariska Hargitay is a big part of why SVU is such a wonderful show that really resonates with fans everywhere.