Why Hannibal Will Avoid The Subject Of Rape On The Show

Television series tend to work in cyclical rhythms, and lately we’ve seen a most unfortunate trend of rape stories taking over certain fictional landscapes, such as Outlander and Game of Thrones. But fans of NBC’s Hannibal don’t have to worry about seeing this barbaric crime taking over the storyline in Season 3, even though the source material features it, as creator Bryan Fuller just won’t stand for it from either a creative or an audience standpoint.

Speaking with EW about rape in TV fiction, Fuller went into detail in a manner that was much more refreshing than the subject at hand, and explained why those kinds of stories will be vacant from his show.

It’s one of the things on the show that we really wanted to avoid. They’re ubiquitous on television, and there’s an entire series [NBC’s Law & Order: SVU] that’s about rape. It was challenging approaching the Red Dragon story because the crimes that Francis Dolarhyde commits [in the novel] include the horrible raping of corpses, and near-corpses…It became a tricky matter of deemphasizing women being targeted, and making more pronounced the crimes against the victim’s family as a whole. We didn’t wanna glorify it—well, not “glorify,” because I don’t think any of the crime procedural shows are actually “glorifying” rape. But it is certainly explored so frequently that it rarely feels genuine.

It’s an interesting approach to the Tooth Fairy story, as the corpse-rapes were some of the more troublesome actions of a villain in literature, and it’s a big part of why seeing Francis Dolarhyde on the small screen seemed like a weirdly intriguing nightmare come true. After all, Fuller’s visionary approach to storytelling both whimsical and horrifying is always interesting and thoughtful. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thankful that these heinous crimes won’t be front and center.

Still, it sounds like Fuller isn’t avoiding the rape aspect of the Tooth Fairy altogether, but is weaving it into the larger series of atrocities.

You will have to read between the lines. It happens, but it’s a horrible cherry on top of the shitty sundae of crimes committed against a family.

Saying that rape stories on TV are normally shorthanded and can’t properly delve into how such a violation can affect people, Fuller went on to say that it’s not the kind of thing that interests him as an audience member. He points out that he has less of a problem finding entertainment value from cannibalism, which he thinks has a sense of irony about it. Plus, it’s not like people (mostly women) are walking around at night scared of cannibals leering at them. And for what it’s worth, Fuller thinks that the recent rape fiasco on Game of Thrones was handled tastefully and worked to serve the story being told about its characters. Unfortunately, not all shows are able to do that.

We’ll have to see just how tactfully Fuller handles things when Season 3 of Hannibal debuts on Thursday, June 4, on NBC.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.