So far this month, Netflix has already added a wide selection of new and old titles to their lineup, including the NBC crime drama Hannibal. Created by Bryan Fuller and based on the characters created by author Thomas Harris, Hannibal explores the early relationship between criminal profiler Will Graham and renowned psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, who has a few secrets of his own.
If you’re searching for a show with a strong story, Hannibal is the one. While the series followed more of its own storylines with characters borrowed from Harris’ original novels, they also take from the source material, most notably in season three. It’s also full of parallels to the films as well as Easter eggs throughout. Each episode delves into shocking, yet intriguing, cases that will leave you watching your screen in horror but unable to look away. But along with the horror elements that make the show stand out, it also takes a deep dive in the psychology of the characters, especially Will Graham and his surprisingly intimate (if not manipulative) relationship with Hannibal.
Bringing the characters to life is an ensemble of talented actors who make sure anyone watching stays invested in their stories. In the roles of Will Graham and Hannibal are Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, respectively. Dancy gives such a convincing performance of Will Graham’s mental downward spiral you’ll want to reach into the screen and hug him, and feel like you might be going a little insane with him. Mikkelsen wholly embodies Hannibal, and really, no one can do it better. It’s difficult not to fall for this charming, respectful, well-dressed, and culturally refined character. (It’s also incredibly frustrating knowing he’s a cannibal and somehow finding yourself practically drooling over the meals he cooks. Seriously, dude? You just HAD to be a cannibal?) Beyond their individual performances, Dancy and Mikkelsen have such a palpable chemistry it practically bleeds off the screen. They create a tension that keeps you on the edge of your seat, will leave you fuming at times, and craving more.
The rest of team includes characters who continue to add to the general dynamic. Laurence Fishburne plays Jack Crawford, the no-nonsense head of his unit. He keeps everyone on track and also supports them however he can. He’s tough, but not without compassion. Caroline Dhavernas portayed Dr. Alana Bloom, a psychiatrist and consultant with the FBI who uses empathy paired with her expertise to her advantage. Scott Thompson and Aaron Abrams play the hilarious duo of Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller. They have their own unique rapport that brings some relief to the typical dark nature of the show while also being a valuable part of the FBI team. Hettienne Park takes the role of Beverly Katz, a clever and occasionally snarky agent who knows exactly how to push everyone’s buttons in just the right way. Gillian Anderson plays Dr. Bedelia du Maurier, Hannibal’s colleague and his psychiatrist. Though she remains wary of Hannibal, she makes the effort to listen to him and also challenges him. Along with the main cast, the show brings in several notable guest stars, including: Katharine Isabelle, Raul Esparza, Richard Armitage, and Eddie Izzard.
Though the show is incredible in and of itself, nothing is quite as stunning as its cinematography and visual aesthetic in general. Hannibal is one of the most visually satisfying shows you could watch. Each of the characters has a wardrobe that often matches their setting and their arcs as the series progresses. The way close-up and extreme close-up shots are filmed are a feat you don’t see much in television. Many of the locations are visually pleasing on their own, pulling you further into the show. As the show became darker subject matter-wise with each season (which is fine. Totally fine), the lighting and other visuals also became darker. Hannibal is a television show that feels wholly cinematic.
Finally, I can’t talk about Hannibal without mentioning the fans (known as Fannibals). After its series premiere Hannibal quickly gained a large and devoted following still thriving today, and it’s easy to see why. Every week, we’d watch our favorite duo and FBI team solve some of the most gruesome crimes, while simultaneously yelling at our screens about none of the other characters knowing Hannibal is a serial killer. Many of the cast and production crew, including Bryan Fuller, continually interacted with fans through live tweeting and other fun and creative ways (let’s not forget about Loudly Implied Cannibalism) that kept the fandom engaged. Even five years later, Fannibals keep that same spirit, welcoming first time viewers with open arms. They remain as passionate about the show as they did the day it first aired. Hannibal is impeccably written, directed, and filmed. You won’t regret making it your next binge watch and joining the Fannibals’ ranks.
Hannibal ran for three seasons on NBC from 2013-2015. It spawned a book titled The Art and Making of Hannibal that provides a detailed look behind the scenes of the show, along with a cookbook called Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook. Though the series ended in 2015, Fannibals have continued to fight to get this extraordinary show renewed for a fourth season, hosting rewatch parties on social media and continuing to spread the #SaveHannibal tag with ways to request it get picked up by streaming platforms. Will its new streaming home be the hope Fannibals have been waiting for?
You can watch seasons 1-3 of Hannibal now on Netflix.