The Best Show You’re Not Watching: “Hannibal”


This week Bryan Fuller’s weekly jaw-drop exercise Hannibal wraps up its first unexpectedly stellar season. But of course you wouldn’t know that, because you’re too chicken to actually watch it, right? It’s okay – you can admit it. We’re among friends here. You know – the kinds of friends who would love to have you for dinner.

Okay, okay – so maybe you’re not scared, and you just don’t have the appetite for this brand of bloody buffet. But Hannibal transcends standard hack-and-slash genre television in a number of ways – which is probably why it’s already been renewed for a second season of ghastly, envelope-pushing intrigue.

Here’s a quick rundown of reasons you really should be watching.

1. Carnage, psychosis and existential despair have never looked so good

Hannibal is the most ghoulishly gorgeous show on television. The super-saturated colors and dramatic production design, the constant overcast gloom and the frequent appearance of Hugh Dancy in short-shorts all combine to create an irresistibly disturbing palette. It’s like watching Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows without having to actually watch Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows.

2. It turns humans into haute cuisine


We all know that Hannibal Lecter is a cannibal. But the show goes one step further by making him into a truly talented chef who throws lavish gourmet dinner parties at which he serves his unsuspecting guests other humans. And the dishes he creates with such care and artistry are truly spectacular – it’s the most twisted food porn since Sandra Lee got hit in the face with that frozen turkey. The show’s lead food stylist has a blog, which is required reading for anyone interested in this somewhat macabre brand of culinary art.

3. Scott Thompson plays an FBI forensic scientist

Scott Thompson

Yes, THAT Scott Thompson – Buddy Cole from The Kids in the Hall plays a deadpan crime scene investigator with crisp, Canadian aplomb. It’s just bizarre enough to work. And his name is Jimmy Price, which sounds like an old-timey megaphone crooner to me.

4. Mads Mikkelsen is a hoot

As Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) is having a blast. His character is of course a vicious murderer, but Mikkelsen’s aloof-yet-amicable embodiment of Lecter is far less menacing than Anthony Hopkins’, which makes him all the more horrifying. Plus, his name is “Mads”. Plus, he looks like Rango:

Hannibal - Season 1

5. It’s scary as f*ck

You may have heard that Hannibal pushes the limits of violence and gore on network television. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. It’s as gruesome as Dexter and more twisted than a dozen seasons of CSI, and to top it off it’s legitimately scary. Like, “check under the bed” scary. Fuller’s parade of psychopaths and mental patients are a wonderfully unique bunch, each more weenie-shrinkingly terrifying than the last.

6. Best. Guest stars. Ever.


Molly Shannon, Eddie Izzard, Raul Esparza (as Dr. Chilton!!), Gillian Anderson, Ellen Greene, Anna Chlumsky, Ellen Muth, Dan Fogler, and John Benjamin Hickey, just to name a few. Some are murderers, some are victims. All are delicious.

7. Hugh Dancy does unhinged alarmingly well


Aside from the aforementioned short-shorts, Dancy brings considerable chops to an incredibly challenging role: an FBI profiler who can empathize with psychopaths, allowing him to recreate their crime scenes in order to get inside their heads. And on top of that, he’s also in the process of losing his own mind, with Hannibal’s help. You have to wonder if Dancy and real-life wife Claire Danes compare crazy-acting tips over dinner.

So those are my reasons why Hannibal should be on your menu. Anyone else a fan? Sound off in the comments!

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.