by Samantha Murray

When news first came out that Mariska Hargitay wanted to scale back on her Law and Order: Special Victims Unit workload so that she could spend more time with her family, I was skeptical about how this would work out. Elliot has been there longer than Liv, he should probably get promoted first. Neither of them should ever get actually promoted, though, because they’re terrible at following the rules. They’re like vigilantes who accidentally have badges (I’m looking at you, UnStabler). They named Jennifer Love Hewitt as a possible replacement and just… no. There is no way. That literally cannot be happening. She played a traumatized rape and stalking victim on the show only a handful of episodes ago. Do they seriously think that we’re just going to have forgotten about that? Is she playing the same character and she’s just really gotten her life together? Could she even be big enough to fill Olivia Benson’s shoes? Definitely not. No way. I will hear nothing of it.

Then came the news that Christopher Meloni would be leaving the show because of contract disputes. Enter: fury. There is no show without Olivia and Elliot. Munch, Tutola, the chief… they’re all great, but SVU is all about Liv and El. How could they possibly let him go? I’m so sick of executives playing hardball and refusing to cough up money for the leads. They seem to think that they can just stick any old actor in that slot and it’s going to work and THAT’S NOT TRUE. If the success of the brand is just about the formula, then why is SVU one of the last ones standing of all the Law and Orders? The only good thing that could possibly come from Stabler not being on the show is that now we’re all spared the complete lunacy of watching him pretend that Jennifer Love Hewitt is an adequate successor for Mariska Hargitay. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, WORLD?

There has got to be some way to save the show. Since NBC canceled Law and Order: Los Angeles, that looks like some L&O resources that could totally be used to pad Christopher Meloni’s salary. Maybe they can somehow change up the shooting schedule so that Mariska Hargitay can still spend time with her family AND protect victims of heinous crimes. I promise, if the current incarnation of SVU is saved, I will donate to her foundation (which I should be doing anyway and so should everyone else because it’s important Joyful Heart Foundation). I will watch every episode when it’s new instead of catching it in reruns or DVRing it. I will… I have no idea what I’ll do, just please don’t take Benson and Stabler away from me.

I guess it’s really happening. Special Victims Unit has been on for 12 years. I have been alive for 20 years. Therefore, SVU has been on for every year of my life that it has been appropriate to watch a show like L&O: SVU… and then some. I can’t imagine life after SVU. Mariska Hargitay is taking it much better than me: “For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth. I love him deeply and will miss him terribly — I’m so excited to see what he’ll do next.” Speak for yourself, Benson. Unless what he is doing is going back to taking his clothes off on HBO, I’m finding it difficult to muster up enthusiasm for my favorite detective being anything other than that. If anyone needs me, I’ll be crying in bed watching the entire first season on Netflix.

I’m not here yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Samantha Murray is a student and writer from New Jersey.