To answer that question, yes it is.
By any means, you shouldn’t compare it with “Silence of the Lambs” either. “Silence of the Lambs” has always been a horror film classic that we tend to watch repeatedly and it’d still give us the chills. But “Hannibal” is different.
If there’s one word to describe the “Hannibal” TV series, it’d be “artistic”. I would have used “gore” but it’s a psychological thriller TV series and gore elements are unavoidable. However, the gore elements in the series are different from what I’ve seen before and they are more disturbingly beautiful rather than plain disgusting. To be fair, I always avoid watching films with gore elements because they’re rather sloppily done and disgusting.
One way to enjoy Hannibal TV series is by re-imagining Hannibal Lecter’s character instead of comparing it with other Hannibal films. This show features a time before Hannibal Lecter met Clarice Starling and tells the story between Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham, a character from Hannibal’s first book “Red Dragon”. Some may opt to skip season one as most of the episodes showcase different murder crimes committed by different killers. But all these murder cases are what drove Will Graham to become the prime suspect instead of Hannibal Lecter. It is definitely not easy to capture a serial killer who is able to manipulate others and think one step ahead of everyone else.
A TV series with a successful storyline is what drew us to the show but here are other reasons why Hannibal is worth watching:
1. Best adaptation from book-to-drama/film since “Silence of the Lamb”
Hannibal started with the novel “Red Dragon”, which was written by Thomas Harris and was first published in 1981. Although the TV series didn’t follow the original storyline closely, season one of the series showed Graham’s early encounters with Hannibal while investigating cases before the events of “Red Dragon”. Several characters were modified in the series as well and that includes tabloid reporter Freddy Lound’s gender (it was changed from male to female) and also, Hannibal’s psychiatrist was introduced.
2. Bryan Fuller is the program creator
We kid you not, but Bryan Fuller‘s imaginative mind definitely surpasses Will Graham’s mind or Hannibal Lecter’s intelligence. After all, he is the mastermind behind this mind-blowing TV series, filling it with dark irony and sophisticated yet gory scenes. Although the TV series he has previously worked on (Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls) were cancelled, every show of his has nominated for dozen of awards. He has also singlehandedly bagged 7 Emmy Awards. TV Guide even listed the Heroes episode “Company Man” written by Fuller as one of the 100 greatest episodes in television history!
3. Bold and brilliant casting choices
Kudos to the cast of this TV series as they have delivered such deep yet powerful performances. Mads Mikkelsen (who played the role as Hannibal Lecter) has successfully crept us out with his cryptic smirk and mysterious stare. It’s as if he’s about to strike someone with a knife at any given moment whenever he smirks yet no one ever tries to interpret the meaning behind his questionable expressions. Hugh Dancy gave us an outstanding performance portraying Will Graham’s emotion in the show and we weren’t even surprised when he was nominated for Critic’s Choice Award’s Best Actor for Drama/Films. Other cast members we found interesting (and surprising) were such as Gillian Anderson, who played the role of Hannibal’s psychiatrist, and Michael Pitt who portrayed Mason Verger, a psychopath and a patient under Lecter’s care too.
4. Intentional Love Line
Now we all know how this goes. Most TV series we’ve watched are bound to have a cult following who loves to see a little love line between the characters of the show. Yes, we are talking about the “shippers”. The interaction between Hannibal and Will Graham is a typical psychiatrist-patient relationship, except Hannibal’s goal isn’t so much of trying to cure the patient but to manipulate the patient. Bryan Fuller clarified that Will Graham is definitely heterosexual even though his relationship with Hannibal is “absolutely intentional” for a certain portion of the audience. AXN Korea’s promo video for Hannibal is one such example why the love line is celebrated by the fans, sort of (watch out for the song between 0:38-0:59)
5. Artistic killing
Unless you have a high tolerance for gore, most people like myself always look away a little whenever the scene becomes too gory and disturbing to watch. However, Bryan Fuller and the production team know how to play around with the genre and understand that Hannibal Lecter isn’t just a ruthless serial killer. Lecter is a sophisticated cannibal with refined tastes in art and certainly his “work” always holds its cultural value in an artistic way. His works are too beautiful to skip and they are definitely our secret guilty pleasures.
6. Food styling
In each episode, the series allowed us to appreciate the beauty of the dishes prepared by Hannibal Lecter but at the same time, we were reminded that the meals are made from his victims’ flesh. The mastermind behind all these refined culinary work is in fact, a Toronto-based food stylist Janice Poon who took up the challenge to create these exotic dishes. The food stylist even documented all the details of the dishes on her own blog, Feeding Hannibal and fortunately, no human flesh were found in the ingredients.
There you have it. If you have yet to watch Hannibal, it’s time for you to binge watch the show while Bryan Fuller prepares “dinner” for his new guests (that probably includes you)!
Photos courtesy of NBC Hannibal.