The creator also said that a possible “Hannibal” season 4 could further explore LGBTQ themes: “There are a lot more stories to tell.”
As a horror enthusiast and leader of the television horror revival, Bryan Fuller appreciates the art of subtext. News from the prolific screenwriter and producer Shudder docuseries, “Queer for Fear: The Queer Horror Story”, makes a strong case for horror’s queer origins, finding hints of homoeroticism in nearly every corner of the genre. Fuller brings an appreciation for queer subtext to all of his work, as fans of “Hannibal” knows it only too well.
The psychological thriller series, which ran for three seasons from 2013 to 2015 on NBC, starred Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy as serial killer Hannibal Lecter and criminal profiler Will Graham, respectively. With such talented actors, the tension between the characters was ripe. Last year, Mikkelsen shared that he and Dancy had filmed a few takes where they kissed, but Fuller thought that would be too “obvious.” While fans held out hope for confirmation of their suspicions which never came, opinion seems quite divided on whether “Hannibal” is an example of clever queer subtext or queerbaiting of the network television.
As a gay TV creator who often features LGBTQ+ characters in his work, Fuller doesn’t take kindly to that last accusation.
“I was trying to tell an authentic story because I think exploring homosexuality from a heteronormative perspective is a complicated road,” Fuller said during a recent interview with IndieWire. “It certainly started as a non-sexual same-sex couple experiencing greater intimacy than they had ever experienced before. Then being able to move through that into intimacy that was labeled love. them, where they both enter a man, which is the culmination of their relationship with each other. Then falling into each other’s arms and over a cliff. I didn’t never felt like queerbaiting. I think it’s a buzzword for a lot of people to find something to complain about because they feel like they’ve been duped or misled.
It singles out the character of Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), a psychology professor and former Lecter student who develops a relationship with a woman in Season 3.
“I’m equally proud of the explicit homosexuality of this relationship,” Fuller said. “The growing strangeness of what happens between Will and Hannibal never seemed to exploit. It felt authentic to someone who had once identified as heterosexual having a complex and intimate relationship with someone of the same sex. Then, going on a journey with those feelings to what’s in the way was less coded and more authentic to this man’s story in that journey. Because it became explicitly queer in terms of talking about loving each other and where that love was going to lead them, I think to dismiss it as queerbaiting is cynical and a bit of a dick, honestly.
Talk of a Season 4 revival has been circulating for years, with Mikkelsen saying he would happily return to the role. The cult classic garnered renewed attention when all three seasons arrived on Netflix in 2020, rekindling buzz about a possible fourth season. Fuller says Mikkelsen, Dancy, Dhavernas and Hettienne Park have all indicated they would like to continue the series.
“There’s a fantastic future for these queer characters, for murderous husbands and wives,” he said. “There are still a lot of stories to tell, and I hope we will have the opportunity to do so. We just need someone to put it on their airwaves.