This is a popular spin-off show from the long running Law & Order series focussing on the work of an elite team of detectives in New York who examine sex crimes in the city.
The show is based on real events, usually crimes which have made the headlines, and has been running since 1999.
With such a long production run, the producers have managed to keep the show successful by avoiding storylines and characters going stale.
Most often the victims play a prominent role in the storylines which are often so close to real events that only the character names have been changed.
The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is based in the fictional 16th Precinct of New York’s Police Department and was led for many years by Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) until Meloni left the show.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been nominated for and won many awards over the years, including several Emmys.
The premise of the show is that the investigators go deeper into the psychology of why a crime was carried out and is based on a real unit within the NYPD which deals with such traumatic incidents.
Among the most famous faces to appear regularly is former rapper Ice-T who plays Detective Odafin ‘Fin’ Tutuola, the sidekick to the conspiracy-theory loving and cynical Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer).
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit attracts some big names to appear as guest stars in the show, sometimes taking up controversial roles, with Robin Williams picking up an Emmy nomination, as have Cynthia Nixon, Marlee Matlin and Angela Lansbury.
The show also has regular cross-overs, in that characters from the original Law & Order series appear in the Special Victims Unit shows, though the most recent series has seen several regular characters leave the show.