Does Hannibal have its own tropes?
I don’t know if you would call these tropes. There’s Dark!WillGraham. I don’t know if you’d call that a trope. AUs where Will becomes a serial killer or Hannibal is not a cannibal. I personally don’t understand… part of the appeal, for me, is that [Hannibal]’s a cannibal and a serial killer. If he’s not a cannibal and a serial killer then he’s basically just Frasier Crane. I don’t really get it. I mean, I don’t want to disparage anyone who likes that, if it floats your boat it’s fine! I’m not here to hate on anyone’s preferences. But I personally want to read terrible stuff where terrible things happen. So yeah, it’s just strangely not very tropey as opposed to Sherlock. There’s a lot of Omegaverse in Hannibal fandom. But I think Omegaverse is everywhere. It’s permeated across all the fandoms.
There’s plenty of Hannibal Omegaverse, but the thing that perplexed me is that in a lot of it, Hannibal is the Alpha. I feel like if you want Hannibal and Will to have really possessive, rough, bestial sex where Hannibal tops that you don’t actually need to go to a different universe for that. I think that’s just how they’d do it anyway. (laughs) I think it would be much more interesting if Hannibal were the Omega and he had to manipulate Will as the Alpha to do what he wants, which is, like, bone him and soul bond him or whatever Omega-y stuff. And that’s how I ended up writing sing for the damage we’ve done.
Hannibal is about the manipulation.
Exactly, he just gaslights Will. I mean what’s the fun in Hannibal throwing Will down and having his way with him when he can gaslight him! (laughs) This makes me sounds like a psychopath…
No, just a writer. 🙂
A lot of people talk about fanfiction as a way to fill in gaps in canon, or fix things they feel the show didn’t get right, or explore missing scenes or different themes that the showrunner hasn’t covered. Is there an element of that in your writing for Hannibal?
Hannibal is a really well and tightly written show, so as far as I’m concerned there aren’t that many missing scenes. I think the things that I really want to explore, what I really like about Hannibal, is that even though the show has zero commitment to reality in the sense that somehow Hannibal can decorate his food with skulls and random jawbones and stuff, nobody is like, “Hey this guy is kind of weird…”
Like, okay, somehow Hannibal has this really robust social life, he goes to the opera and the symphony and he has a thriving psychiatric practice and somehow he still has the time on the side to murder people and display them in really intricate ways, and also throw a dinner party afterward. How many hours does he have in a day? Does he have a time turner?
So time is really strange on the show. People drive from Virginia to Minnesota in like an hour. So the show doesn’t have a really good commitment to reality in that sense, but it’s really emotionally honest and emotionally realistic in the sense that it’s a show that really understands that people are complicated, and that people aren’t just good people, and people aren’t just bad people.
Hannibal is a complete monster obviously, he kills and eats people for fun and displays their bodies in interesting and artistic ways afterwards, but he also loves, and he also cries, and he also loves art and he has all of these really genuine emotions, but he also happens to be a serial killer. That’s just a quirk of his.
That’s the thing that I really love exploring. The show goes to this really uncomfortable place. At the end of the Season 2 finale, it becomes really easy to sympathize with Hannibal’s sadness. Who hasn’t been betrayed? Who hasn’t wanted to lash out at the betrayer? I’m not advocating that people should lash out at their betrayers by stabbing them! But these are, I think, fairly universal human emotions and the kinds of things that happen in real life too.
How many times has someone come to light as being a serial killer or kidnapper, and everyone always stands around and goes like, “Oh, I would never have imagined it. He seemed like a normal guy.” I mean they have families, there are people out there who are the children of serial killers and they had to reconcile all the times that he dressed up as Santa for them, and it turns out that he was killing people? Is that part a lie? Is the part where he was a good father a lie? This is really complicated human stuff, and I really like that Hannibal acknowledges that.
I think a lot of modern discourse likes to put things in a binary. This person is just a monster, or this person is just weird, you see a lot of that kind of rhetoric on Tumblr. I don’t want to generalize that all of Tumblr is like this, but it is a place where I tend to see, “Oh, if you like this or that TV show or movie it’s racist garbage and that makes you racist garbage.” Even racist people are complicated people. If you’re related to an uncle who likes to say crazy things at Thanksgiving but also cheers at all your soccer games, you know that.
You talked about the duality of the serial killer. Dexter explored a bit of that dynamic.
The thing is, I watched the first two seasons of Dexter and I liked it fine. And the comparison to Dexter is really natural because it’s like, “shows about serial killers where the serial killer is the main character.” The comparison is natural, but the thing about Dexter is that the TV show makes it really easy to empathize with Dexter; it kind of plays into that part of the human psyche that really desires vigilante justice. He has a code, he only kills bad people, he kills other serial killers. He kills corrupt people, so it’s really easy to get behind that and root for Dexter.
Whereas Hannibal, he kills whoever he frickin’ feels like. He kills someone for blowing cigarette smoke in his face. It’s not justice. He doesn’t even really follow his own rules half the time. He says, “Eat the rude,” but then he kills a bunch of people who don’t really deserve it and weren’t rude to him at all.
That’s what I like about Hannibal over Dexter. I thought Dexter was good, but what I think is better about Hannibal is that it’s more challenging. It’s much more uncomfortable. It’s comfortable to empathize with Dexter because he kills bad people and they deserve it. Hannibal kills people because he feels like it, and yet somehow the viewer still comes away liking Hannibal. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I think he’s still a very likeable character and I kind of root for him, I want him to come out on top, I want him to get away. I don’t want him to go to prison, which is really weird because he definitely deserves to be in prison.
Like Sherlock in some ways, there have been multiple incarnations of Hannibal Lecter across many forms of media: starting with the novels, a series of movies, and now the TV series. Were you familiar with all of the other Hannibals and do they influence your portrayal of him?
It’s funny for me, because my Hannibal fandom experience is really the opposite of my Sherlock fandom experience. I was in the Sherlock fandom from day three, and with the Hannibal fandom I come strolling in two seasons later, like, “Hey guys, what’s up? I’m like two years late to this party but I’m bringing fan fiction!”
For Sherlock I had read all the books and novels, I’ve loved Sherlock Holmes since I was a kid, and Hannibal, I’ve…watched Silence of the Lambs many years ago. I never watched any of the other movies. I’ve never read any of the books. I’m interested in reading them, but I want to wait until we see if there’s going to be a Season 4. Basically the idea is that I don’t want to read the books until the whole show is over. I don’t want it to color my ideas and opinions and expectations of the show.