Season 1 of Shadowhunters ended last week and one of the biggest shocks to come out of the season (if you haven’t read the books) was the fact that the two main characters (who had spent the entire 13 episodes having intense eye-sex or just plain making out) were actually brother and sister.
For some reason, incest is seen by a lot of writers as the pinnacle of shocking plot devices. Personally, I associate it with soap opera – and there is no shortage of it in soap operas – but that isn’t where it ends.
Game of Thrones’ Jaime and Cersei Lannister are perhaps the “closest” siblings (wink wink, nudge nudge) on television and indeed, when the series first started in Season 1, that was pretty much all that anybody could talk about. Of course, the show then went ahead and killed off Ned Stark, Robb Stark, a lot of Starks… there was rape, and dragons and suddenly incest wasn’t as big a deal as anybody had once thought.
Even in film: Back to the Future, Cruel Intentions – incest is in! That’s where my problem lies. I have no issues with watching some siblings make kissy-eyes at each other but when those pesky writers make the story so compelling that I’m rooting for it, I start to feel a little bit strange.
Fortunately, Shadowhunters is so badly written that I have no problem in not believing that particular relationship and even if Jaime and Cersei weren’t siblings, that relationship goes beyond damaged – hours upon of hours of therapy are needed – but then there are films like Clueless.
Watching Clueless as a child, Josh and Cher’s relationship was adorable and “of course they should have been together”. Re-watching, I just, I suddenly realised – they’re brother and sister. But not by blood… says the little voice in my head rooting for true love. It doesn’t make it better and suddenly I’m that person stuck defending the tabbo I-word.
I could debate why there’s a stigma around incest: is it really wrong or is that just Western society’s perception? Can you control who you fall in love with and does it simply make more sense that you’d fall for someone that you’ve known your entire life? I could talk about all of that but this isn’t that kind of site and ultimately, I think it’s kind of icky.
So, to all of the screen-writers out there: please, please, stop writing incest story-arcs. Actually, just stop writing good incest story-arcs that make me feel like trash.
How do you feel about the incest trope? Do you personally have a favourite sibling-couple (you can comment anonymously)? Let me know in the comments.