If your Tumblr dash is anything like mine, you’ve probably noticed a huge influx of posts about Hannibal recently and you might be wondering where the fandom came from. The show is pretty new (only 9 episodes so far), but the source material and films have been around for a few decades already. Though while many of the people in the Hannibal fandom have been around since the source material first came out, a big chunk of these fans (myself included) are being pulled into the fandom because of the show. I didn’t really understand why this was so popular in my circle of friends, but after so many gif sets and cannibal jokes I decided to give it a shot… then it all became clear.
The following contains minor spoilers from the source material Red Dragon,and the first nine episodes of season one.
Let’s start off with Will Graham. He’s a character that’s quite significant in the source material and in the movies (particularly Red Dragon), but he’s shown in a very different light on the show. He’s young, vulnerable, and tormented by his unique ability to empathize with the darker points of view of serial killers. Most importantly, this is looking at him before he uncovers Hannibal’s secrets, which isn’t something that’s really been expanded on in great detail before. Fandoms tend to latch on to vulnerable characters perhaps out of an instinct to want to protect them and Will is definitely vulnerable and well on his way to even more emotional trauma. Also he rescues stray dogs. No seriously. His house is filled with stray dogs. I can’t even really express what that one fact does for how appealing his character is.
His relationship with Hannibal is another big draw of the show. They are both highly educated in the field of psychology and Will has placed his trust in Hannibal to be his personal psychiatrist, which is not exactly the best move in retrospect, but for Will at this time it seems like a very good thing. They further bond over Abigail Hobbs and formed what fandom has dubbed the “Murder Family.” Hannibal goes as far as to refer to them as Abigails “dads.” Now let’s be clear, these are words taken directly from the show, not from fandom interpretation. They are a family with two dads now. It’s like a perfect little slash ship hand delivered and wrapped in a nice little bow. Too bad one of them eats people. It’s really very unfortunate.
This show is demented. I’m aware of this. But stick with me. It’s worth it.
This show goes to a lot of really dark places and fan works are no different. There is some truly amazing meta out there already looking at the strange and interesting places that this show goes on a psychological level. And yes, there is fanfiction and it’s dark too. I’m typically not a fan of very dark material, but this show was adapted by Bryan Fuller, who has a habit of being able to turn very dark material into something palpable. He created Dead Like Me, a comedy about grim reapers, and Pushing Daisies, a whimsical story about a pie maker who can bring the dead back to life with a simple touch. If someone is going to write about a cannibalistic serial killer and make it something an audience can watch without feeling like they’re being psychologically tortured (slash ship pain notwithstanding), it’s gonna be him. Also, cannibal puns. You’d be surprised at just how much of a plus cannibal puns are. No seriously.
Another standout feature of this show is it’s high quality and stunning cinematography. I thought this show had to be a Showtime or HBO invention, but no, it’s NBC. No offense to NBC, but this show has the look of a premium cable program, not a network program. It’s also incredibly gruesome for a network show, but I’ve promised my fellow Geekiary authors that I wouldn’t fill our gallery with violent pictures so you won’t be seeing any of that here, but this show definitely breaks the mold for content on network TV. Now I’m not really the biggest fan of violence, but it’s good to see the show creators aren’t letting the channel the show is on get in the way of the story they want to tell. I honestly have a hard time not automatically defaulting this show to HBO.
Overall, this show has surprised me with how good it is. Yes, it’s about a cannibal and focuses on incredibly gross murders, but the characters go to deep and interesting places, it’s visually stunning, and it’s well worth your time. If you can survive the cannibal jokes, you will be pleasantly rewarded.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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