A Bitterly Delicious Love Story
What do Hannibal Lecter and Idris Elba have in common?
Nothing is more multidimensional than love. We have it at all times, and yet yearn for it at the exact same moment. We can see it but can’t touch it, and we can feel it but cannot tangibly hold it. Is it any wonder how certain love stories can become as twisted as a cobra swallowing an electric eel? People tell stories about love which to others sound more like a Stephen King Novel than they do Casablanca. There’s classics like ChinaTown and there’s more modern twists like Basic Instinct or Gone Girl. But despite the overt horror and disturbia some of these stories evoke, the underlying desire is still a pursuit of love. It is this twisted up pursuit of an intangible omnipotent power, and all the pitfalls it leaves in its wake, which leads me to recommend one of the most impressive love stories ever written for TV: Hannibal.
This show follows the first book in the now infamous Thomas Harris series which covers his notorious character Hannibal Lecter. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is most famously known by Anthony Hopkins bringing him to life in the movie The Silence of The Lambs. It is a brilliant film, and one I think everyone should watch if you enjoy psychological thrillers. But the movie pales in comparison to the story woven in and through the TV adaptation of Harris’s first Book Red Dragon. In the world of this book, and show, Dr. Lecter has not been caught yet, and he is helping the FBI profile serial killers. He is doing this whilst also killing and eating people himself in some of the most theatrical ways imaginable.
But when an FBI agent named Will Graham crosses paths with Dr. Lecter everything changes. Will has perfect empathy, so much so that he can reimagine the atrocious crimes the people they’re looking for have committed. The world of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit is wrought and rank with people who walk the line of monster, and riddled with heartbreak as families lose loved ones. But in the cluster of this terrifying and turbulent collage of chaos, Will is asked to start therapy with Dr. Lecter after Dr. Lecter consults on a case. Dr. Lecter is some kind of pure psychopath, and Will leans more towards the autistic spectrum with an empathy disorder. Yet when these two meet, it is as if all the stars stopped for a moment to shine down and illuminate a most peculiar picture of intimacy and connection.
Both men are severely damaged, yet under all the trauma, anguish, and both internal and external destruction -- they are both human. They both long more than anything to be chosen, loved, and understood. They understand each other, and nobody else does, and this realization is the catalyst for a story so steeped in friendship, romance, and acceptance -- if you take a bite while you watch it, you might miss it.
I’m not going to say any more, because it is a nuanced experience you should sink your teeth into all on your own. However, if this is something you might like, in fact if you already watched it and loved it but don’t know where to go, then I have a show for you: Luther. The BBC’s crime drama Luther follows detective John Luther, played by Idris Elba, as he takes on the mean streets of London and all the evil minds lurking below its surface. You might be wondering why a show about a cannibal psychopath who finds connection, love, and friendship in an autistic, empathetic, damaged profiler, would lead you to watch what seems to be just another “cop show.”
Well, what makes the show Hannibal utterly delectable is also a key ingredient for the perfectly prepared crime drama Luther. From the pilot onward, we watch with front row seats and baited breath to see if John Luther will finally find love. Will he finally love himself? His wife? His life? Or will he finally be totally destroyed by his self hatred which manifests itself in sudden bursts of rage? The grey area between these extremes, self love and self hate, is what drives the show forward. If you do something evil for the sake of something good, does that good thing now become evil? I don’t think I have the best answer for this perilous question, but Luther attempts to answer it over and over again.
Each time John Luther dips his toes into the grey waters of good and evil or justice and injustice, he never walks away unscathed. We can all relate to the internal dilemmas we face on a daily basis: Do I run the stop sign because I’m late and there’s no one around? Do I let the incredibly rude and unkind grocery clerk know he gave me twenty dollars back in change instead of ten? Should I tell my mother I sold her jewelery to have an abortion or keep up the lie of robbery I told her? Questions like these, and their micro and macro consequences when answered, are why Luther is undoubtedly one of the best shows to watch today.
If you love love, but find that anger constantly gets in the way of finally reaching that place of love --this is the show for you. Like Hanibal, it is unconventional in the way it follows love throughout the story. Like Hannibal, you may be aghast when you ask yourself whether or not you’d make the same decision, no matter the level of discomfort you experience in the answer. These shows swim in grey, ignoring the false ideas of black and white, good and bad, and life and death. These shows leave you thinking, sad, hopeful, disturbed, and in awe at the utter humanity of some, while processing the disturbing rationalizations of others. To put bluntly and simply: If you like Hannibal, then you’ll love Luther.
I read, I write, I learn! After those. three things, I do it all over again and. hope it brings peoples lives value. I believe very few, if any, sitiations are black and white, and I explore this when I write. Thanks for being here =)