Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "TV Breaks the Incest Taboo"

HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Bored to Death and other TV shows have recently featured incest storylines or themes.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "TV Breaks the Incest Taboo," in which I examine this troubling trend in scripted programming.

In 1990, Twin Peaks gave the world a nightmare vision into the seediness beneath the placid veneer of small-town America. But while one of the many puzzles embedded within Twin Peaks’ narrative was the identity of the murderer of teen queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the true secret lurking at the heart of the mystery was the incest and abuse suffered by Laura at the hands of her father, Leland (Ray Wise) and the psychic damage this secret caused his wife, Sarah (Grace Zabriskie). It’s a reveal so horrific, so destructive, that the creators represented it in terms of the supernatural, having Leland possessed by a demonic entity in order to explain the cruelty and lack of humanity that such a crime would require.

“The act at the black heart of the murder colored the entire narrative,” Twin Peaks’ co-creator Mark Frost told The Daily Beast this week. “Incest is a primal, eternal taboo in civilized culture, and some of the greatest tragedies ever written proceed from it, or lead to it.”

In the 20-plus years since Twin Peaks first premiered, television’s approach to incest had changed little, with few shows daring to break that taboo. But, particularly in the last year, scripted television shows have reversed their disinclination to deal with incest. Premium cable is allowing creators to push boundaries with storylines that weren’t previously permissible. And with incest at the forefront of the national conversation—as classical-music troupe The 5 Browns come clean about the incest they suffered at the hands of their manager father—it is providing grist for the story engines of some of television’s most daring and controversial shows.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous seas

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have