Is Hannibal Lecter The Worst Shrink In TV History?
Look: Hannibal Lecter is a bad guy. He kills people in really disgusting ways, he serves his victims in a port-wine reduction to his so-called friends and colleagues, and the fact that he commits murders while 1) played by Mads Mikkelsen, whom we love to a possibly actionable degree around here and 2) wearing what looks very much like a bespoke plastic suit over his customary beautifully cut regular suit doesn't make him any less of a monster. (Well, maybe a little less? I could swear I saw a little plastic watch pocket on that thing last night. Love it.)
But is Hannibal a bad psychiatrist?
For a guy who's treating Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) for trauma that's caused by investigating murders Hannibal himself usually committed, he actually did okay for a while -- Will seemed to take comfort in their sessions -- until he turned Will into an accessory after the fact, and chose to hide aspects of Will's neuro-psych condition from him in the most recent ep. He's a sociopath who's motivated entirely by self-regard, but at the same time, he presented as genuinely interested in Will's case and his improvement. A cat is similarly "interested" in playing with a mouse until it dies, but you can't say Tigger isn't sincere.
…Oh, who am I kidding. He's dreadful, and no good could come from telling him about my dreams (most of mine involve owning his office furniture anyway), but if I had to call a fictional TV therapist, he's not that much more incompetent than anyone else on the list.
And now, a brief, bleak overview of some TV head-shrinkers who should maybe get their licenses pulled.
Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer)
Berated weekly by his radio-show listeners, he's completely unable to solve his brother Niles's relationship problems.
Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson)
Hannibal's own shrink, she's mostly retired; Hannibal is her only patient, and she continues to see (and soothe) him despite apparently knowing full well what he is, and does. Du Maurier during their sessions and encourages Hannibal to join her, but she may fear that refusing treatment (or a nice Tuscan rosso) will get her murdered, then marinated.
Dr. Tobias Fünke (David Cross)
Arrested Development's "analrapist" showers while wearing jorts. That'll blue, pig.
Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott)
A Nobelist compared to his successor on American Horror Story, but still cretinous: moved the whole family across the country after boinking one of his students, thereby getting the whole fam damily killed.
Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco)
Exhorted repeatedly by her husband (Richard Romanus) and her own psychiatrist, Elliot Kupferberg (Peter Bogdanovich), to terminate treatment with Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), she finds she can't; on various levels, she's attracted to him. Melfi develops a drinking problem in response to the stress of treating a mobster and has lost two patients to suicide that we know of (this isn't necessarily a barometer of anything, but…still)
And she should probably tell Kupferberg to kiss off too, given his ridiculous water bottle and prurient questions about "Patient S."
Dr. Marvin Monroe (Harry Shearer)
Monroe's shock-therapy techniques didn't help the Simpsons even a little, though he did manage to get a hospital named after himself.
Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (Carolyn McCormick)
Law & Order's inaugural state psychiatrist, Olivet went rapidly downhill after a moronic undercover mission she undertook to bust her rapey gynecologist; it worked, but yikes. Much Taking! It! Personally! ensued. Regrettable hairstyles abounded as well.
Sister Peter Marie Reimondo (Rita Moreno)
Much as I loved her, she didn't have the best record in terms of psychological rehabilitation, what with the Oz-unit inmates gouging each other's eyes out, initiation-raping each other, killing each other, bricking each other into walls, et cetera ad nauseam (literally)
Still, we can probably blame a lot of that on Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) Can, and have.
Dr. Shoshana Schoenbaum (Toni Collette)
One of Tara's "alters" on The United States of Tara, and therefore probably not credentialed.
Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke)
A sappy specimen who may have had boundary issues with his patients, and definitely had sexism issues with advice he gave son Mike (Kirk Cameron) on Growing Pains.
Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto)
Just as lethal as Hannibal himself, Thredson's mask-making M.O. on American Horror Story's second season was also reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs's Buffalo Bill.
Dr. Arnold Wayne (Andy Umberger)
Violated doctor-patient confidentiality on Mad Men by reporting on Betty Draper's (January Jones) sessions to husband Don (Jon Hamm), then tried to up his rate by suggesting more intensive (read: "expensive") therapy.
Dr. Zwick (Teri Garr)
Zwick is okay -- she only helps Sean (Greg Grunberg) and Meghan (Amanda Foreman) with their relationship problems on Felicity because they can both agree she's kind of an idiot, but they do work it out, and Zwick taught Sean that tension-busting chicken move I still love to this day. Her main problem? She's not Toni Pavone (Amy Aquino), my all-time favorite TV therapist who should still get her own spin-off all these years later.