“Law & Order: SVU” Has a New Dance Plot That Seems “Ripped from the Headlines”

March 16, 2020

“Law & Order: SVU” has dominated the crime show genre for 21 seasons with its famous “ripped from the headlines” strategy of taking plot inspiration from real-life crimes.

So viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the new storyline following the son of Mariska Hargitay’s character into dance class originated in the news cycle. After all, the mainstream media widely covered the reaction to Lara Spencer’s faux pas on “Good Morning America” in August, when she made fun of Prince George for taking ballet class.

But it turns out, the storyline was actually the idea of the 9-year-old actor, Ryan Buggle, who plays Hargitay’s son. And he came up with it before Spencer ever giggled at the word ballet.

“Dancing is my favorite thing to do,” says Buggle, “so I wrote a script over the summer and gave it to the writers.”

Buggle, who has been dancing ever since he joined a hip-hop class at age 5, drafted a plot where his character Noah trained in dance. The writers latched onto the idea of incorporating Buggle’s real-life passion into the show.

The storyline debuted last Thursday, on Episode 3 of Season 21, titled, “Down Low in Hell’s Kitchen,” about a serial attacker in the black gay community and a faked assault à la Jussie Smollett.

The episode opens with Noah telling his mom Olivia that he’s bored of baseball. They just so happen to be outside the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater studios, so Noah points to the dancers on the other side of the windows and says, “That looks like fun.”

Mariska Hargitay walks into a dance studio holding the hand of her character's son, who expectantly smiles.

A scene from “Law & Order: SVU”
Courtesy NBC

We return to the Ailey studios in the closing scene, when Olivia drops Noah off for his first ballet class. Wearing a crisp white T-shirt and black tights, he smiles back at his mom, who’s watching from the doorway, as the teacher leads the students through a plié combination in the center.

(Buggle tells Dance Magazine that the other kids in class are his friends from his competition studio, Pro Dance, in New Jersey.)

While it’s not yet clear how much dance will be shown in future episodes, we love the potential of this storyline to help normalize boys in ballet.

For his part, when asked what he hopes will come out of this storyline, Buggle shares, “I just want everyone to know that they can dance—no matter what people say.”