Hannibal Falling, and Why the Show Will Rise Again


Much to the chagrin of horror fans everywhere, NBC has announced that it won’t be renewing Hannibal, the beloved show about the cannibal next door. There are still ten episodes yet to air, but the third season will be the final one appearing on the network.

The news isn’t exactly surprising. Hannibal has pulled dismal ratings for the entirety of its run, recently dipping to a low of 1.7 million, and everyone involved seems to be aware of the cold reality of the situation. Bryan Fuller expressed gratitude for being allowed to make three seasons, while NBC thanked Fuller for delivering some much-needed critical acclaim. That’s why I can’t criticize NBC. The network did everything it could for Hannibal, but there’s only so much that can be reasonably expected.

And yet, I’m strangely optimistic after the cancellation of my favorite show, largely because I just don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hannibal. In fact, I’m confident that it will find a home somewhere else, and that it will happen relatively soon.

The truth is that Hannibal was never a great fit for network television. It’s a niche show with a dedicated and loyal fan base, but the subject matter is so disturbing and unsettling that it’s virtually guaranteed to alienate most viewers.

That’s a problem on NBC, where shows are expected to pull large, broad audiences to justify their spots in the lineup, but it’s a profile that has proven to be extremely successful on cable, where producers are able to take more risks. 1.7 million would be a perfectly healthy number on AMC or FX, and there’s every reason to think that Hannibal’s audience would follow it to another network. The outpouring of support has far exceeded what you’d expect from such a lightly viewed show – there’s already a #SaveHannibal hashtag making the rounds on Twitter – and it’s no secret that the people who like Hannibal are really into Hannibal.

(No, I will not refer to myself as a Fannibal.)

Hannibal is also a relatively cheap show to license because much of the production comes from The De Laurentiis Co, meaning any prospective partner wouldn’t have to foot the entire bill. That’s how the show was able to last for three seasons on NBC in the first place. The producers are already shopping for a new broadcaster, and the low cost and built-in audience should be an enticing combination.

Of the available suitors, Netflix seems like it would be the best option. The short 13-episode seasons make Hannibal a great binge watch, and it would also make it easier for new fans to get caught up. Season 3 is so steeped in the twisted psychological back and forth that it’s inaccessible to those who haven’t been there since the beginning, a problem that has been evident in the early episodes.

The point is that I’ll be sure to watch Hannibal wherever it lands, and I know I’m not alone. That passion, coupled with the commitment from the producers, will ensure that the show continues its run. There’s always a place for a series that can guarantee a small, but consistent audience in a fractured media landscape.

That’s why I’m not too worried about the cancellation of Hannibal. The show is too good and too beloved to abandon, especially when there’s so much working in its favor.

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