May has come, which means that we're currently in the midst of TV renewal/cancellation season. It's been a bloodbath so far as networks large and small have given the axe to many projects, ranging from freshman shows to well-established series. Well, NBC has one quite well-established show that isn't going anywhere just yet. Law and Order: SVU has officially gotten the renewal order. The news was confirmed via social media, with a post from the official SVU Twitter account:
Yes, the dedicated detectives who investigate the vicious felonies in New York City in their elite squad will be back again, presumably in the fall. The renewal brings the season count up to a whopping 19, which will clearly once again star Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson. It seems pretty obvious that the folks at NBC and behind the scenes at SVU consider Hargitay a main draw to the series; the tweet itself opens with "Benson is back" and features a video that has Benson front and center.
Of course, there's another reason why "Benson is back" is a fitting way to announce the renewal. Entertainment president Jennifer Salke has been open about wanting Law and Order: SVU to return for another season since January, but a deal hadn't yet been struck with Mariska Hargitay, and it's hard to imagine the series moving forward without Hargitay. Although SVU survived the departure of original co-lead Christopher Meloni, I'm not sure that it could survive the loss of Hargitay at this point. Now, a deal has been struck, and Benson is back to get the the bottom of even more sexually-based offenses.
The renewal for Season 19 puts SVU in the running for a major TV record. Original recipe Law and Order is tied with Gunsmoke for the longest-running small screen drama, both having clocked in 20 seasons of primetime. If SVU can hang on for another few years, it could smash the record and go down in TV history. As long as the brass at NBC are on board and Mariska Hargitay is willing to stick around, I can see the show lasting long enough. Even if Hargitay does leave, the show might be able to eke out a season or two. It could happen! Now I'm going to have to start crossing my fingers that Christopher Meloni shows up as a guest star sooner rather than later.
Law and Order: SVU isn't exactly NBC's highest-rated series, with Season 18 pulling in an average of 5.8 million viewers and drawing a 1.35 in the valuable 18-49 age demographic. Still, the numbers aren't terrible, and SVU tends to be relatively consistent from week to week. It's also worth noting that SVU is the last remaining series in the once-mighty Law and Order franchise. If NBC plans on rebuilding the franchise, it may need at least one series still on the air. A couple of spinoffs are already in the works, but there are no guarantees. Keeping SVU alive is a pretty safe course of action.
The Season 18 finale of Law and Order: SVU airs on Wednesday, May 24 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and don't forget to check out our summer TV premiere schedule to discover all your viewing options now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to drop by our rundowns for cable/streaming and broadcast TV renewals and cancellations as well. Our TV season finale schedule can give you all you need to know about your shows ending.