I was sitting at home drinking a cup of tea (I’m English, we’re know to such things), scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday and I read a Buzzfeed headline – ‘NBC has Canceled Hannibal”. My gut reaction was “Bullsh*t” because it’s Buzzfeed, you know? I clicked on the link and was sadly unrewarded by any content which conveyed any sort of ‘Got Ya!’ intention. This was real. THIS WAS REAL.
I checked across platforms and came across other sources that confirmed the story. NBC had declined to renew the series for a fourth season. Now, for most of us paying attention to the show’s ratings this is hardly surprising. What has been surprising is that it was even allowed to get this far. Increasingly oblique and esoteric, Hannibal is a highly rare beast on network television. It’s not even a natural bed fellow for premium cable shows, rejecting as it does the misogynist tropes of so many of those shows. During my viewing and reviewing of season three, I’ve found myself thinking often – how are Fuller et al. allowed to deliver such unconventional, operatic and aesthetically centered television for a major American commercial television? Yesterday we saw that again, but especially potently, the laws of commercialism, the premium of advertising revenue will conquer any desire for innovation and diversity.
I was gutted; not quite like Will at the end of season two, but I was palpably and genuinely upset by this news. I know that this is not an uncommon experience for television fans, but such is the place that such fictions can occupy in our hearts and minds. I had lost and I was grieving. I took to social media and discovered that I was not alone. WE had lost and WE were grieving. For seven full hours yesterday #Hannibal trended on Twitter globally. Globally. Thousands of people tweeted their shock, sadness and anger at NBC’s decision. We were joined by Bryan Fuller and The Dino De Laurentiis Company and soon #SaveHannibal emerged. In the digital media age, the word ‘cancelled’ doesn’t come with the finality that it used to. Audiences have the ear of those who have the power to help like never before. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Yahoo have all been lobbied to save the show. These new players in the broadcast fiction industry have proven that are they are prepared to commission shows that wouldn’t find obvious homes with conventional broadcasters; Orange is the New Black, Outlander and Transparent are all evident of this. They’ve also shown a willingness to recommission shows jettisoned by bigger networks as with Arrested Development and Community. Bryan Fuller and others involved in the show have been open about their desire to find the show a new home should NBC pull the plug, and so the tweets last night confirmed this as the next priority. Whether this will happen ultimately is unclear; it’s often so much more complicated than two parties who want to do a deal.
I thought that this post might end up as a bit of a love letter, or a goodbye at least to the show that I’ve come to enjoy delving into, but I won’t do that just yet; I can’t. I’m not ready to say goodbye. My show has just been evicted, not cancelled. I’m going continue to fight for it – because I can and because it has come to matter to me in a way beyond a distraction from my telly box. Through social media, I’ve become part of a community – a community which has always knew it was niche and that the existence of the show was an unlikely one. This community is one where we felt accepted and celebrated by so many of those involved in the show. Not all fan communities get to experience this; talk to Sherlock fans. We’ve felt privileged and we ARE privileged. There’s been a call to arms from Fuller and others to demonstrate that there is an audience for the show, despite what NBC think. More than that, it’s a global one, which matters less to the type of home that it could find.
So, I’m doing what other Fannibals are doing; We’re shouting into the social media void with loud and repeated cries for the salvation of the show they love so much. We’re making, writing, posting, tweeting and reblogging, emailing, engaging directly with the IV suppliers via their customer chat mechanisms. We’re doing all of this, as if our lives depended on it, which for some of us at least, it kinda feels like it does.
*Sorry/not sorry to my non-Fannibal Twitter followers for the spamage since the announcement.