While it was quite the shocker when Law & Order: SVU viewers recently discovered that Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) was involved with former nemesis and Internal Affairs Bureau Officer Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke), the real surprise to some diehard Dick Wolf fans was that she wasn’t secretly dating Chicago P.D.‘s Hank Voight (Jason Beghe).
Following various crossovers that teamed SVU and P.D., viewers noticed the undeniable chemistry between the squad leaders, leading to shipper names that varied from Voightson and Venson to Boight and Benoight — these fans are fickle, apparently. Alas, she’s taken, though the idea of a Benson-Voight relationship wasn’t so far-fetched.
“In terms of chemistry, I get why people liked it,” SVU executive producer Warren Leight tells EW. “They have good chemistry together.”
But there are a number of things that stood in the way of that relationship, including how fundamentally different they are when it comes to the morality of police work. “The political differences between them would have been difficult to reconcile,” Leight says, pointing to Voight’s lack of restraint as the main deterrent for Olivia. “He hasn’t come to grips with all of his anger issues. The vigilante side of Voight is immensely satisfying to watch, but it would’ve proven to be a deal-breaker over time.”
Also, the logistics of Benson and Voight being in a relationship wouldn’t have been easy. “The guy’s in Chicago,” Leight says. “He’s the star of that show, she’s the star of this show. Long-distance romances are stressful; long-distance romances when you have to schedule around two TV stars who are the leads of their shows are almost impossible.”
“They’re 1,500 miles away,” Leight continues. “They seem to work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, and she has a new kid at home. I wasn’t sure how often they could get together for Passover Seder or something. I didn’t understand how it would work logistically, and I think politically there was distance between them. There’s enough coupling up on P.D. without me loaning one of my few officers.”
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Instead, Leight opted for the relationship between Benson and Tucker — or Tuckson, if you will — which led to high stakes for the couple amid an investigation into a sex ring within a Catholic church that involved a number of public officials. (Don’t worry, Benson’s already got her job back!) “Part of the reason we went with Burke was because you look for people who can hold their own in a scene with her, and not everyone can do that, but Voight and Tucker obviously can,” Leight says.
For his part, Beghe still believes there’s a deep love between Benson and Voight. “There’s a great deal of warmth, respect, and I will use the word love between them, but that’s a word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” the actor says. “There’s probably 8 billion definitions of that word and 8 billion variations of it, but they care. I think it’s like coming home being together.” In other words, Tucker better not treat Benson poorly or he’ll have to answer to Voight.
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET, followed by Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.