NBC’s Hannibal is a television series based on the Novel Red Dragon. The show has been commended for its well developed and non sexualized female characters, principally, Special Agent Beverly Katz. The show even attempts to portray that women can be serial killers as well; however, the one female antagonist throughout the show remains to reinforce the hegemony of women as overly emotional and maternal. Though NBC’s Hannibal should be commended for having strong and well developed female characters, there are some characters that reinforce patriarchal values.
Beverly Katz is one of two primary female characters in the show, neither of which is sexualized though the other, Dr. Bloom, is seen as a romantic interest. Beverly extinguishes gender, racial, and religious sterotypes for she is played by Hetienne Park, an American actress of Korean ancestry. Beverly does not have an accent, is not seen as a sexual or romantic object at any point in the show and is Jewish to boot. The actress stated about Beverly:
I’d rather focus on the positive stuff. I got to play this amazing woman who didn’t have to sleep with anyone (not that I would have minded) or act dumb and girlie or fawn all over some guy or be a conniving bitch to get people to notice or respect me, and she didn’t speak broken English or karate chop anyone (not that I would have minded). Nobody called her “dragon lady” or “exotic.” She could shoot a gun and drive that FBI SUV like a champ. And all with the extra added bonus of being Jewish. And when I get messages and thank yous from viewers who dig that or are inspired by that, well, that’s what makes any of this worthwhile or mean anything to me. So thank you for that. I love Beverly Katz. And I loved playing her. ~Hettienne Park
Beverly Katz can hardly be criticized from a feminist perspective because she could have remained the same in every respect but could have been played by a white male.
One aspect of Hannibal that a feminist approach would be critical of is the fourth episode entitled Oeuf (egg). This is the only episode in which a female killer is apprehended. The woman however, perpetuates patriarchal values of women as mothers. The character was so grief stricken by her inability to have children; she would abduct young boys and convince them to kill their families in order to become part of her “real” family. She is seen, unlike many of the male antagonists, as grief stricken and not accountable for her actions.
It is my opinion that overall, a feminist approach would not be overly critical of Hannibal due to its strong female characters. This stated, there are aspects that remain to enforce patriarchal values.