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Given that Netflix recently released the latest season of NBC’s hit juggernaut and sub-titled it “The Thirteenth Year”, I think it’s an understatement to say that this show has endured.

Personally, I can remember watching everyone’s favorite hardcore justice-wielders for about half my life so far. At some point, during my high school years, I stopped. I’d begun having nightmares (okay, I had one once, lets not be over-dramatic), and decided a show about sex crimes and the people who fight them was too dark for me.

However, as I’ve grown up and acquired a thicker skin (and a shared Netflix account, thanks Mom!), I picked back up with the latest season recently. Perhaps it was the years in between, which I spent analyzing and appreciating the arts, or maybe just my own maturity…whatever the source, I found I had to figure out why this show, this edgy, intense, occasionally terrifying show, was still around.

I certainly can’t speak for the other viewers keeping NBC’s golden child on its feet, but to me, this show is all about hope. SVU is by no means unrealistic; terrible crimes are witnessed, and occasionally, victims are denied the amends they deserve. But the crux, the focus of each episode, its final moments, are not about what was lost or stolen, but about what was fought for.

Despite the horrors they face, the titular detectives continue to pursue truth, kindness, and integrity. In one memorable moment, SVU‘s heroine Olivia Benson tells a victim that “healing begins with witnessing”. That emblem of healing and reparation is what keeps this show relevant in today’s world. Among mass-shootings and senseless violence, it provides a comfort. These beloved and iconic characters focus on righting the wrongs, fighting tooth and nail for justice in what can often feel like an unjust world. That’s why I watch.

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