As “Law & Order: SVU” approaches its Season 18 premiere, fans are getting antsy about Lieutenant Olivia Benson’s return and what jaw-dropping events the series will cover this year.
To answer a few questions about the upcoming episodes, The Huffington Post sat down with the cast of “SVU” and its showrunners to discuss all kinds of possibilities.
The first episode ― which viewers are going to love ― rips from more than a few newsy cases and buzzy topics. Given the show’s tendency to pull cases from the zeitgeist (like last season’s handling of a controversial Terry Richardson-like figure and a show based on “The Bachelor”), we couldn’t help but wonder if the show will cover Brock Turner’s highly publicized case in some way this season.
For reference, the former Stanford student was convicted of three felony sexual assault charges in March after he sexually assaulted an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. His case became national news in June after the victim wrote an open letter about the assault, which went viral. Turner’s extraordinarily lenient punishment (he only served three months of his six-month sentence, though he originally faced 14 years in prison based on charges) was thoroughly criticized.
“It is a phenomenon,” Julie Martin, executive producer of “SVU,” told HuffPost of Turner’s case. “Unfortunately, there have been several cases like that over the spring and the summer.”
While that hints that a possible Turner-inspired issue might be covered within the broader context of various campus sexual assault cases, Mariska Hargitay imagined a different scenario: one where Detective Benson might get a case ― much like Turner’s ― and make it right on the show, even if law enforcement can’t make it right in real life.
“Can you imagine if Brock Turner ― that makes me cry ― happened with me [Benson]?” Hargitay said, her voice breaking and eyes welling up. “Like if I was the detective on that case? It could be healing to somebody to see what should happen.”
“[Seeing] justice,” the actress added, “If a judge would do a different sentence. You know that’s healing for people to see the right thing, the just thing happen.”
When the real world does not provide the type of punishment we’d like to see for certain cases or people, “SVU” always makes sure the show’s victims (and its viewers) see the right people penalized for their wrongdoings.
One of the most popular episodes of last season was based on a family of 12 with a pregnancy secret and a hit TV show, aka the Duggar family’s molestation scandal. Though the characters were different than the Duggars (as was the sexual assault case), viewers got to witness what they’d always wanted the Duggars to do: put their daughters first and say they don’t care about their TV show. It was a perfect example of how the show can reinterpret current events.
Justice is served swiftly on “Law & Order.” And hopefully, if we do get a Turner-like character on the show, he’ll receive a suitable punishment (aka something longer than three months in prison).
Tune in to the season premiere of “Law & Order: SVU” on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Watch a preview of the premiere below: