For Our Consideration: Sibling incest is a tale as old as time—and it’s not going away

Penny Dreadful has spent its second season gleefully dismantling audience expectations amid high-gothic imagery and subtext. One of its major arcs this season is a deconstruction of the Bride Of Frankenstein, as the good Doctor kills and resurrects prostitute Brona to sate the demands of his first creation, Caliban. But in the season’s eighth episode, Brona (now renamed Lily) turns the tables on Caliban—a student of poetry and mythology with some distasteful ideas about what Lily owes him—by propositioning him first. The deal: She’ll be his lover if they kill their maker together. And the term of endearment that seals the deal for mythology-buff Caliban? She wraps her arms around him and calls him, “My brother.”

It’s a small but telling moment, meant to add a further frisson of the illicit and a suggestion of the doomed without actually stopping the proceedings. But there’s …

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