CBS’s “Clarice” is a failure — but at least its an interesting one

When I proposed a review of CBS’s “Silence of the Lambs”(1991) sequel series “Clarice” (2021) at the Campanil’s weekly pitch meeting, I assumed that I’d just be writing a couple thousand words about how the show turned out to be a trash fire, as expected, and didn’t rectify any of the transphobic messages of the film upon which it is based, as expected. Having watched the first three episodes of “Clarice,” I can report that while both of those things are technically true, the show somehow manages to fail in even more new and interesting ways.

Problematic content aside, “Clarice” dramatically fails the legacy of its main character Agent Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds), a legacy which I would argue is already rather dim. Nobody watches “Silence of the Lambs” because they want to see the story of a rural, down-to-earth, closeted lesbian cop as she is thrust into extraordinary circumstances to climb her way up the corporate ladder at the FBI; they want to see it because it’s salacious. They don’t want to see Jodie Foster enter Buffalo Bill’s den as a scared West Virginian runaway trying to prove herself to the FBI boys’ club; they want to see Buffalo Bill in all his perverse glory, dancing naked, draped in the skin of dead women. They want to see Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith) “put the lotion on its skin” and they want to see Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) taunt Starling (Jodie Foster) with threats to eat her “liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

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