For ultra-graphic gore inappropriate for a mass audience, the Thursday, June 11th episode of NBC’s Hannibal (10:00 p.m. ET) is the Worst TV Show of the Week.
It is sometimes difficult to believe the devolution that has occurred on American television. Once a place where entertainment appropriate for the entire family flourished, today TV is choked with sex addicts and murderous serial killers. Where once TV was considered a “guest in the home,” today it’s more like an escaped convict kicking in a window, staging a home invasion, and grabbing the viewer by the throat.
What else can be said about a program that airs at 9 in the evening (Central/Mountain), is rated appropriate for 14 year old children…and is about a murderer who dismembers his victims, then cooks and eats their bodies?
Such an attitude was certainly present in last week’s episode of Hannibal, an entire prime-time TV show based on Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter, a brilliant genius who also just happens to be a murderer who consumes his victims. Apparently, those who select programming for NBC believe there’s absolutely nobody in the world more worthy of being glorified on television than a cannibalistic serial killer.
Over the course of the episode, viewers had the dubious pleasure of being exposed to repeated scenes of alleged protagonist Will Graham being stabbed, and his friend Abigail having her throat lovingly slit, both by Hannibal. Naturally, blood is shown gushing profusely from both wounds. Later in the episode, Will has a flashback in which he recalls being carried out by paramedics with blood on his face, as he looks at Abigail’s dead body next to him. Then, doctors operate on Will as they clean the blood off Abigail’s corpse.
Viewers also get to see repeatedly the corpse of a victim Hannibal has murdered, by flaying the person alive. Hannibal then strings the corpse up in a chapel, and allows the victim’s blood to drip onto the chapel floor. Later, as Will has one of his “visions,” a extreme close-ups of the flayed corpse are shown.
This episode of Hannibal was rated TV-14 V. Apparently, NBC feels gory murders and throat-slitting are ideal viewing for young teens. But Americans don’t appear to agree: according to the ratings publication The Wrap, last Thursday night, NBC was in fifth place in ratings (behind even Univision)…and Hannibal dropped 29% from the previous week’s premiere, with only 1.7 million people watching, barely more than a low-grade cable series.
Clearly, Americans are weary of murderous mayhem and graphic gore; but just as clearly, NBC is enamored of it. So long as the networks continue to push the programming they’re interested in, rather than that which viewers want, programs like NBC’s Hannibal will continue to be the Worst TV Show of the Week.