Heard the one about the cannibal who ate his mother-in-law? She still didn’t agree with him. Boom boom.
There are very few things that can’t be joked about in this world. And you could certainly be excused for thinking cannibalism is one of them. Actual cannibalism I dare say, would be difficult to get your laughing gear around but the fictional variety… well, we find that endlessly fascinating. Even amusing.
The proof is in the proliferation. In 1988, a man named Thomas Harris wrote a little book called Silence of The Lambs. It was a sequel to his 1981 novel Red Dragon. Both have since been made into movies, along with a few others peppered in between for good measure. Then in 2013 we were blessed with Hannibal the TV series. But far from flogging a well-worn horse, the TV adaptation has breathed new life into what is arguably one of the most famous characters ever created. You don’t even need to have watched the movies to enjoy it. It’s its own juggernaut.
The word most used to describe this show is “compelling”. And not in a rhetoric movie-poster way – in a you genuinely want to devour as much of it as you can way. Which is an interesting choice of words considering the subject matter, I grant you. But I’m far from the only one who finds this series fascinating. Fannibals around the world (yes, that would be fans of Hannibal) praise the show in chat rooms, sign petitions aimed at anyone who deigns to withhold an episode and even throw Hannibal-themed dinner parties.
Oh, the in-die-gestion!
These parties are sans the cannibalism of course, but with all the artistic flair the show is known for. And just like Game of Thrones, Mad Men, True Blood or any series that inspires a Pinterest-worthy spate of dinner parties, it has an aesthetic all of its own. Especially when it comes to the cooking.
The food is often described as the fourth main character in the show, as it happens – much like New York was described as the fifth character in Sex & The City. The other three being criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), FBI agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and of course psychiatrist Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).
The extravagant culinary scenes are predominantly the work of the show’s food stylist Janice Poon (for reals, she styles fake body parts into works of gastronomic art for a living, read our interview with her here) and the results leave you authentically salivating. That is, as the kids would say, ‘a mad skill’.
The entire thing stands on some pretty superb acting chops too, especially on the part of Mikkelsen, who steps into Anthony Hopkins shoes with aplomb. I would like him to take a stint as a guest judge on Masterchef just so I can watch him eat some more. The man is mesmerising. A little research into his background uncovered the fact he used to be a professional dancer. It explains a lot actually. He toys with the food as he prepares it in a sort of a culinary waltz only he is privy to. It truly is exquisite television.
In almost every way, this show is equal parts sensual and shocking. Which is what has garnered it such a cult following. The suits are beautiful, the furniture is beautiful, somehow even the raw meat is beautiful. It’s almost baffling how a tale about a serial killer who eats his victims could be turned into something so elegant, but there you have it.
It’s gory, sure – but it’s also gorgeous.
Even if you don’t think cannibalism is your thing (who’s thing is it, really?!), I implore you to give a burl. There are actual memes about how watchable this show is, no word of a lie. There’s even a drinking game, if that’s your cup of tea-flavoured liquor. You take a shot every time Will has a nightmare and three for every time Hannibal makes a thinly veiled cannibal reference, just for starters.
In short – this show has something for everyone.
Season 3 is available now on iTunes and other digital platforms. It won’t even cost you an arm and a leg… I promise.
The Carousel is running a competition for all cooking fans, and the prize is a killer! Worth $800, the first prize will be a KitchenAid Artisan FoodMixer, with runners up receiving 10x DVD packs of Season 1 & 2 of Hannibal. To enter: all you need to do is post photos of your Hannibal inspired ‘food porn’ cooking (no human body parts please!) with the hashtag #cookingwithhannibal to be in the running to win,and tag @carouselfood. Hannibal’s food stylist Janice Poon will be judging the competition.
Check out the Hannibal trailer below…