In Which Shadowhunters Brings Sibling Incest To The ABC Family Audience

I Don’t Know, Incest?

by DICK CHENEY

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
creator Ed Decter

Were you possibly interested in watching a show about teens experimenting with incest written by the man who penned the instant Christmas classic The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause? The answer to this question is the same answer I have every time someone asks me if I find Ted Cruz’s wife appealing, intelligent, and principled: Yes.

But let’s begin at the beginning, since there is a Lost connection here. Juliet from Lost played Mrs. Clause in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, because they wanted to pun on the word Clause as much as was humanly possible. The character of Juliet was a mole planted to find out information about the survivors of Flight 815. I watched the whole show and I had to look that up; in my heart of hearts I thought she was just a fertility specialist on vacation.

Years later, when a man can no longer depend on the furtive sight of Tim Allen in a beard to provide for his family, he must hire actresses and actors of a certain age who will play a brother and sister in love with each other on the new Freeform series Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments.

Clarissa Fray (Katherine McNamara) and Jace (the English actor Dominic Sherwood) are these two individuals. If there was a time to move away from the ABC Family branding by renaming your network Freeform, it was when you debuted a series dedicated to the thrills of brother-sister incest.

McNamara is a redhead who appears to have been conceived immaculately. No one has ever had skin this perfect in history, but unfortunately for Jace, despite being eighteen years old, Clarissa is extremely modest. Jace gives Clarissa a leather skirt to wear at one point on Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, and when her friend Simon (Alberto Rosende) sees the outfit, he gives Clarissa his jacket to cover up, and she accepts immediately, as if to acknowledge she never should have worn something so revealing.

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Most of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments appears to take place in a time when women had to be Mary Sues like that young woman who barely got three lines in The Force Awakens. Clarissa is a typical such creature — she displays no actual skills or talent in anything except drawing, yet she is incredibly feared and respected by everyone she meets.

Clarissa goes around screaming and plotzing everywhere like her head got caught off, despite the fact that she has the blood of an angel named Raziel inside of her that allows her to do things her Mundane friends could never dream of. Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments creator Ed Decter attempted to get the rights to the trademark Muggle and failed, but don’t lose hope. J.K. Rowling will probably need money again at some point.

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments is marketed at kids and older women, who are nothing if not lovers of incest storylines. The typical incest storyline consists of shock and disgust followed by a relapse and then a prolonged separation. The weird thing about the novels Shadowhunters is based on is that they don’t follow this narrative. Clarissa and Jace eventually don’t care at all that they are brother and sister. The two are in love, a fact they are certain of because they never consummate the relationship beyond heavy petting.

Watching Katherine McNamara walk around not having sex with anyone and just whining about how her father froze her mother is a recipe for disaster, and the previous film adaptation of The Mortal Instruments really didn’t have time to delve into the particulars of why it was okay for the brother and sister to feel so strongly for each other.

Shadowhunters begins on Clarissa’s 18th birthday, when it is certainly legal for her to start wanting her brother in that way. Despite being almost perfect-looking, she has no boyfriend or even interest from the opposite sex. She is focused on a graphic novel she is writing with her friend, and her recent admission into the Brooklyn Academy of Art. Her Jewish friend Simon plays in a band named Champagne Enema, and we briefly see him performing a wretched cover of “Forever Young,” of all the things.

That night she and her friends plan to hit the club. They don’t drink or do any drugs, which makes Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments significantly more chaste than Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is many decades old at this point and actually concerned younger characters. It is hinted that the reason Clarissa is so disturbingly naive is because her mother had a warlock cast a spell on her that makes her forget any tawdry memories, e.g. that time she had to take the morning after pill or was fingered at the Ray Lamontagne concert.

For some reason Clarissa’s new adulthood restores her sense of self, and she is suddenly sexually hungry. Her only options are her brother and her friend who can’t sing, so it is not terribly hard to criticize the choice she makes, especially since Jace looks like he was cut from iron, he has the best haircut I have ever seen, and is constantly throatily whispering, “I will protect you.”

The motley cast of characters surrounding these two cesters is really the highlight of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments. The show has a bunch of unconventional relationships: Clarissa’s mother has a weird detached angry love relationship with a black police officer, another shadowhunter loathes himself and hides his homosexuality, and the main antagonist flies into a murderous rage when anyone gives him the slightest bit of backtalk.

Hopefully Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments can remedy the main problem in the books it is based on: a bizarre lack of wintercourse. Even the Twilight series had that disturbing scene where Kristen Stewart lost her virginity on vacation, suffering bruises all over her body, and Robert Pattinson was like, “I’ll never do that to you again!” and they broke up IRL because Stewart prefers women and, probably, real men.

Is it wrong to want to see a brother and sister caress themselves lovingly, no matter what the world says to sour their magnificent ardor? I am pretty sure Ron Weasley and Hermione were brother and sister, and everyone was fine with that.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

“Wildlife in America” – Shearwater (mp3)


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