How incestuous is television right now? Really, really incestuous, it seems, with Boardwalk Empire and Bored to Death featuring incest story lines in the last few weeks, and Dexter inching in that direction last night. These come on the heels of Game of Thrones’ “twincest,” but as the Daily Beast points out, incest stories aren’t exactly unheard of for TV: Sibling (stepsibling and half-sibling) incest has been a plot point on Brothers and Sisters, Supernatural, Nip/Tuck, and Lost in recent years, not to mention Veronica Mars and Six Feet Under. An HBO exec told the New York Times that the recurring incest themes on the network’s shows were a coincidence, and that the writers are just “drawn to areas that are rife with conflict and drama.” Have we become so inured to other sexual taboos that incest is the last really shocking misdeed, or is there something else at play? Does all this incest on TV say something about this moment in pop culture? Does it mean anything?
BOARDWALK EMPIRE episode 23 (season 2, episode 11): Gretchen Mol, Michael Pitt. Photo: Macall B. Polay/HBO