(short answer: yes. 100 fucking %)
During every period of my life when I have been massively, capital-D DEPRESSED, Law & Order: SVU has been there for me. It started with all those weekend USA marathons. (You know the ones.) The first time I was super Not Okay, I couldn’t sleep in a bedroom– either at my college apartment or at my parents’ house. That felt too… normal. Like something I wasn’t worthy of anymore. So, I slept on the couch, any couch. When I’m DEPRESSED, I don’t really get ready for bed. My teeth go unbrushed, my face unwashed… but if the lights are already off and Stabler and Benson are solving a grisly crime… it’s just easier for sleep to come to me.
Because we’ve all already seen every episode, right? It’s not like SVU requires deep focus and attention. The show has been on since 1999 and, with absolutely all due respect to Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T, let’s be real: we’re only watching the Stabler seasons and we don’t really fuck with season one, so we’ve got just 11 perfect seasons of “especially heinous” crimes.
The comforting gift of the Depression Procedural is that it’s basically adult Scooby-Doo. The bad guy is never the first guy you meet, never the Super Obvious Suspect. It’s probably the guy who’s too cooperative, who gives up his DNA sample within the first 15 minutes, you know? And we’ve got a wise-cracking team of Good Guys and the best episodes are when they’re not just co-workers, but friends. I care about the hypothetical dream of Tutuola and Munch opening up a bar together as much as I care about any other nerd fandom headcanon.
(You show up for Benson and Stabler, but you stay for Tutuola and Munch.)
I’m massively Depressed now and, again, I spend most nights on the couch with SVU. Going to bed makes me sad, so I just don’t. The lights stay on, my dental hygiene fucking suffers, I rarely get changed into my pajamas… and I spend about 20 minutes trying to find an episode I don’t immediately, instantly recognize. (It’s gross to have a favorite SVU, you know what I mean?)
Going to bed makes me sad, because my dreams are vivid and hard lately and I do not want to give them anymore time than necessary, so I drown out the voices in my own head with those of Benson and Stabler.
Also… SVU is now sort of like a shorthand for how my loved ones take care of me. Sometimes I don’t want to talk, can’t bear to hear my own voice anymore… so, if I’m at my parents’ house and sunk into the couch, my folks know it’s time for an SVU marathon. My roommate now shares SVU and pizza with me on sad, lonely week nights.
My ideal Sunday is still a day on the couch with an SVU marathon. When the episodes just roll into each other, over and over and over again. When the familiar beats and exciting guest stars just wash over me. It’s like… if SVU can keep going all day, I guess so can I? I can make it through the week if I know I get to rest on Sunday.
Because sleep is not rest right now.
(i have been here before, i will be here again.)