I've watched my fair amount of Netflix binge series, especially this summer, from "13 Reasons Why" to "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" to rewatching full seasons of "Friends" in a day and picking up where I left off in "Arrested Development."
None of these have reached the level of binge addiction like "Law and Order: SVU" has.
Each episode is over 40 minutes long and each season has over 20 episodes and yet, in three weeks, I've managed to watch through four seasons and then some on TV reruns. This show is so addicting that I've found myself humming the theme song and saying the iconic, "bum-bum" in response to conversations with my family.
In order to justify my addiction to anyone reading this article (and, honestly, myself), I've compiled a list of the five lessons you would never expect to learn from "SVU" but that I would like to argue to all of you that you can take away from watching so much of it at once.
Females are strong as hell
The number of times during an SVU binge that I hold my hands in a hashtag and sing, "Women in power! Women in power!" is dramatic, sure, but done with good reason.
The women on the show, be it Benson or Detective Rollins, ME Dr. Melinda Warner, any of the female ADAs, the survivors, and even the female villains, are more fleshed out and multi-faceted across the board than in so many other shows.
Seeing Olivia Benson working as a boss ass bitch who has flaws and demons and goes to therapy while raising her adoptive son and running the sex crimes division of the NYPD? It's not a show for kids, but it's a mentality young women should be raised on.
Trust your gutGiphy
As much as I love the show, there is often a pattern to the episodes which is that all or most of the team will think one suspect is guilty and one will be vaguely opposed. They'll make comments like, "Are we sure it wasn't [the actual guilty party]?" "Have we looked into [the actual guilty party]?" "Guys I don't know… I think we should at least look into [the actual guilty party]."
If you haven't caught on, the dissenting detective is always right after a suspenseful and somehow still shocking allegation. The dissenting detective always ends up doing their own vigilante-esque work and proving their suspect is the guilty suspect.
In other words: trust your gut.
Live your life
One of the big "words of wisdom" the SVU team is constantly told is, "Don't make this job your life." While it's easy to see and understand how the detectives could get sucked into and devote night and day to this job and helping people whose lives have been injured and altered irrevocably, they find ways to separate themselves from the station and live their lives as civilians.
Fair, so many of these scenes are interrupted with a call about a new case that needs immediate attention. But there are scenes like those between Benson and her adopted son Noah, with the team having dinner together, celebrating. There are moments, which take place more often than not off camera, that are mentioned on the show that prove these characters are multi-faceted and incredibly fleshed out.
Also, you know, it passes on the message to still live your life as you want unhindered by your occupation.
Know your strengths, but understand your weaknessesGiphy
Rollins is good at getting into the heads of serial killers and psychopaths. Fin is good at putting on the pressure. Benson is the compassion that empowers survivors after assaults. But Rollins has a blind spot for charming men and plays too deeply into criminals traps, Fin overlooks the grey areas and jumps to "black and white, good vs evil" conclusions, and Benson's past provokes aggression towards assailants that helps no one and hurts her cases.
Each person on the SVU team has their strength and plays to it, but they all have their blinding weaknesses which either come back to bite them or provide a learning curve to be better and grow. It's something literally everyone, fictional or real, should learn how to do.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime
There are the episodes that grip at you the viewer as much as they do the characters on the show, with stories and face that impact you for a specific reason. Some people come through your life briefly will only one lesson to impart.
Then there are others who last a while longer, but you know, like anyone, they can't stay forever. They're with you for the stage of your life in which you need them but, like any television show, that era must come to a finale.
Now, while SVU is undeniably dark and demoralizing and often makes you question your faith in basic humanity, the enduring relationships on the show throughout all of its now twenty seasons. The way Olivia still talks of Elliot, Detective Amaro's goodbye, the way Sergeant Munch and Captain Cragen stay present in the show long after their departures. Those are the people who, although maybe not always physically present on a day-to-day basis, are your lifers, the ones who will get you through the long haul.