Greatest TV show ever made? All the reasons why it’s ‘Hannibal’
Hannibal is a TV series that looked at as having died before its time. Everywhere reviews of the series praised it for its writing, acting, and development. Then it was unceremoniously cancelled after its third season due to low ratings.
The question is then: why would such an acclaimed show have such dismal ratings? There are many reasons from the outside it didn’t appeal to some, such as the graphic violence & nudity, the wordy, cerebral dialogue, and the main actor being lesser known to US audiences. But those who moved past these hangups and saw the series marveled at it.
Now that Hannibal is making its way to Netflix on June 5, maybe now is the time for more people to understand the brilliant show for what it is. And who knows? Netflix might just decide to bring it back to life. For now, here are just a few reasons why Hannibal was one the greatest shows on television.
Outdoing the source material
Making an adaptation is a difficult endeavor, especially if you intend to follow in the footsteps of a classic like The Silence of the Lambs. The original film brought its audience that perfect mix of “horrified fascination” and Anthony Hopkins chilled us to the bone as Hannibal Lecter with his inhuman, piercing gaze.
Mads Mikkelsen, the Danish actor who brought Hannibal to life on the small screen, is perhaps the reason Hannibal evolved into what it is. His portrayal of the cannibal psychologist brought the very thing Hopkins was lacking: humanity. In the new version Hannibal has emotions, he is cultured, he is empathetic, he is charming.
He expresses fear, disgust, and rage like anyone else. He is like anyone else. He is like us. And we are just like him. That is the fact that makes our blood run cold.
For Hannibal, the aesthetics are one of the elements that sets it apart from other shows and they are: terrible. They are terrible & beautiful, terrible & haunting, terrible & disturbing. Never before Hannibal have we noted the beauty of blood, it’s shine & luster, and the way it pools and drips to create artful patterns.
The murders themselves are beautiful. They are also deeply upsetting & grotesque but we can’t deny that they are works of art. There’s the tree where a body is hung, it’s organs removed and replaced by flowers, a body with a cello neck plunged in it’s throat, the vocal cords stretched across it like strings, and a mural shaped like an eye, fashioned from the prostrate forms of many corpses.
These images are indeed terrible but we look at them in awe and we wonder what masterful monster crafted them. The aesthetics speak to the artful style of the show’s creator Bryan Fuller and he uses their power to layer on another element to connect us to Hannibal in the way we admire his art.
Building a relationship
Where Hannibal also succeeded was in its approach to the relationship formed between Hannibal and Will. They are colleagues at first but soon they grow closer as confidants. What is even more, Hannibal is fascinated by Will’s ability to empathize with the killers he’s investigating.
Will’s empathy makes him unique to Hannibal, he is someone who could potentially understand the cannibal. Hannibal makes it his mission to slowly mold Will in his own image and make him into a killer also. He does it so he can make a friend, a human desire caught up in the inhumanity of his actions.
In its own dark way Hannibal acted as a love letter of sorts, the troubled psychologist wooing a potential kindred spirit in his own macabre manner. The show was undeniably weird but that was where it shined. In the end it has been said that the obscurity the show suffered might have been what made it great.