The Birdy may have lost her mind, but she's in good company - blame it on the heat, but I had an odd moment of sketchbook inspiration recently, after watching the season finale of NBC's Hannibal and a super-marathon of HBO's Girls. I came to the realization that Hannibal's feverish, Asperger syndrome FBI profiler Will Graham and Girls' self-obsessed, OCD-mania heroine Hannah Horvath were like kindred spirits in their ability to pretty much feel EVERYTHING on the freakin' planet. Both series are all about exploring these characters' suffering, and essentially doing nothing about it, otherwise there just wouldn't be a show. So here's to you, Will and Hannah.
I finally jumped on the cultural bandwagon that is Girls. I don't have HBO, but good friends with cable allowed me to have a marathon session so that I could experience the self-entitled but highly entertaining voice of a generation. Lena Dunham is an amazing force of nature, bravery and intelligence, creating a marvelous and often painfully true series that cuts to the bone of loneliness and self-searching in rapidly changing times. I don't need to get into the multitude of discussion-worthy topics like female body image or whether shorteralls really are the most awesome thing in the world -- the thing that struck me the most about the series was that the main character is such a flawed wreck and yet the show has no desire to rescue this heroine as she circles the drain. It's like a character study of a person as they unravel, which is pretty damn compelling. And that's what got me thinking of the totally not-alike series, Hannibal, based on Thomas Harris' characters from his book universe of Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. The television series version of FBI profiler Will Graham is very different from the book -- he's an obscure loner, isolating himself from others, given his Aspergers as well as the dramatized "ability" he has, to empathize to such a strong, almost magical degree. He can reverse engineer a crime scene in his head and suss out the mental state of the perpetrator, to the point where it becomes his mental undoing. It's TV, don't question it. But it's probably one of the most beautifully shot series I've seen in a long time, even in its most ghoulish, visceral moments.
Both Hannibal and Girls saw their main characters begin a steady downward spiral. Their mental state was literally unraveling and fraying, leaving viewers to wonder how the hell you continue from such a marooned place. I still don't know how they'll continue either series. But I couldn't help but make the connection between these characters, both of whom deal with harsh realities but are themselves somewhat child-like. They're like fairy tale characters living in the real world, with Hannah Horvath as a fractured Tinkerbell; a bundle of girlish energy one moment, and then a heap of broken wings the next. Will Graham is like a mysterious chimera, multiple creatures all combined into one, as he manages to absorb so many of the monsters he hunts while somehow clinging to his own personality. They would certainly make for an odd couple, but I feel their tender little hearts would find solace in each other's tragic weirdness.
Jaunty Fine Print: illustration by Denise Sakaki