Shame of Thrones: The Incest Inclusion Problem of TV’s Biggest Show
If you are binging or catching up or have started the show this contains earlier season spoilers
On Sunday, May 19th HBO will air the series finale of Game of Thrones, it’s most popular show of all time and the definitive show of the last decade (all due respect to one of my TV Drama Mount Rushmore members Breaking Bad). But for all the deserving praise the show is getting as its run concludes (and some deserved and undeserved criticism) I have been perplexed by a lack of criticism for one of Thrones‘ most glaring omissions in this era of representation and inclusion: none of the incest is same sex.
The show over 8 seasons has featured rape, murder, gore, loads of nudity and yes, incest. But of all of that incest, which has been a hallmark of the show as much as it has been a hallmark of the Targaryen history, none of it has reflected the LGBTQ community. Most notably we have:
Jamie and Cersei Lannister – the twins who don’t know how to quit each other
Cersei and her Cousin Lancel (Lancel eventually goes Born Again Faith Militant)
The Whole Targaryen Family
Craster – the man in the north who has sex with all of his daughters (and notably has all of his sons KILLED, denying even an opportunity for same sex incest with their father later in life)
And last, but not least Jon Snow and his Aunt… Daenerys
This is a lot of incest in various forms – sibling-sibling, father-child, aunt-nephew, cousin-cousin, etc., but they all have one insidious common thread – all heterosexual intercourse. This begs the question: what are show creators Weiss and Benioff so afraid of? Why leave out a marginalized community from one of the driving forces in the hit show? Now there was one character who gave the LGBTQ-Incest Ally community hope: Prince Oberyn Martell. A demonstrably sex-positive, bi-sexual hero (he had sex with women and men on screen and notably told the Lannisters that he did not judge their relations.
But just as the show’s LGBTQ hero was defending the life of the dwarf Tyrian Lannister (an ally to yet ANOTHER marginalized community), the show writers demonstrated their true contempt for that voice of inclusion. This is the fate our inclusive, sex-positive, LGBTQ hero received from Weiss and Benioff (who, by the way, have said they want to make a Star Wars film where the Confederacy wins and enslaves Jon Boyega – HARD PASS):
So as this show ends its run on Sunday night I say good riddance. Incest is not just a plot device and taboo to be enjoyed by the hetero masses. Hopefully, with the spinoffs of Thrones and other shows HBO develops will do better. Because the audience, like Prince Oberyn, deserved better.