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Bring Back ‘Hannibal’ to Eat the Rude – and the Rich

If it was good enough for Sondheim in "Sweeney Todd,” then it's good enough for television.


Mads Mikkelsen in “Hannibal”

NBC Universal

The days are getting shorter, the temperature is (theoretically) dropping, and the holidays are looming around the corner like Leatherface himself, so there’s no better time to revisit one of scariest shows in television history: NBC’s “Hannibal.”

Perhaps the most unlikely network drama of all time, what with its focus on fiction’s greatest villain, cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen,) and its commitment to creating lurid and macabre death tableaus, “Hannibal” aired a scant 39 episodes before concluding with its third and final season in 2015.

And while much was made at the time about the Bryan Fuller-crafted series being a better fit for, well, almost any other network, the truth of why “Hannibal” wasn’t a bigger hit with audiences is because the timing wasn’t quite right.

Now things might be different.

To dally in the world of Lecter is to make yourself at home with a sophisticate who prides himself in seeking out and indulging in the finest things in life, whether clothes or furniture or human flesh. It’s a foreign world to most, but little will faze you when you’re talking about a refined cannibal whose central belief system can be boiled down to “Eat the rude.”

Sure, there are class issues inherently woven into the creation of the character, but throughout “Hannibal,” the good doctor is an equal opportunity provider when it comes to punishing boorish behavior. When it comes right down to it, money can’t buy manners.

Which brings us to 2019, where the people whose behavior is the worst are those comfortably nestled in the one percent, where income tax is negotiable, and HBO’s “Succession” is a biopic. Alleged billionaires are driving policies that cage children and endanger the lives of people seeking sanctuary in America. If that’s not bad behavior, I don’t know what is.

The class divide is more stark than ever and it doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon, with 2018 boasting the total tax rate for the 400 wealthiest families in America at 23 percent, compared to a 24.2 percent tax rate for the bottom half of American families.

So maybe we need “Hannibal” more than ever. And maybe we need a Hannibal whose new mantra is not “Eat the rude,” but “Eat the rich.”

There is a reason that Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s sentiments from the French Revolution – specifically “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich” – are still bandied about to this day. Class struggles burn on no matter the year, so why not pick this particularly inflammatory moment to invite “Hannibal” back into our lives?

Maybe the poncy, people-eating doctor is both the hero we need and the hero we deserve to get us through the rest of the year.

“Hannibal” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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