'The Umbrella Academy': Is Luther and Allison's Relationship 'Incest'?

The Netflix series The Umbrella Academy has had two successful seasons so far with a third one on the way. The show features some mind-bending elements including people with superpowers and time-travel.

That may seem like standard fare based on what genres are popular in 2020, but there’s actually one element of the show that has raised eyebrows: Luther and Allison Hargreeves, adopted brother and sister, appear to be in love on the show. Let’s take a closer look at whether or not this relationship qualifies as incest. 

‘The Umbrella Academy’ is a Netflix hit

Based on a comic book, The Umbrella Academy follows the story of seven siblings. In 1989, 43 women give birth all across the world to exceptionally gifted children.

These women had no idea they were pregnant beforehand. Seven of the children are raised by a man named Reginald Hargreeves. Thirty years after drifting apart, the seven come back together when they’re grown to investigate their father’s death, which they suspect might murder. 

Eventually, the group teams up to attempt to stop the end of the world. When they’re unsuccessful in doing so, they travel back in time to fix the future. Doing this makes things even more complicated, as they bring about a second apocalypse and reset their current timeline, erasing what they had known in 2019. 

Luther and Allison have a complex relationship

The core of the show belongs to the Hargreeves siblings. Their relationships and interactions are what drive the story forward and make it worth watching. There’s at least one pairing that has caused a bit of controversy, however. 

While the show has drawn rave reviews and built up quite a fan base, one element of it has drawn criticism. Two of the characters, Luther and Allison, have a burgeoning love story developing throughout the series.

While the two characters are not technically related by blood, they are adopted brother and sister and grew up in the same household. This obviously presents something of an uncomfortable paradigm for fans watching the show. 

Is Luther and Allison’s relationship on ‘The Umbrella Academy’ incest?

In an interview with Digital Spy, series creator Steve Blackman spoke about the relationship and its somewhat controversial nature. According to Blackman, it’s the relationship is still in development, so it’s hard to pinpoint what it is exactly.  

“But yes, are they siblings? Sort of….But they’re also not biologically related, and there’s such a puppy love story. You know, I don’t know if it’s real love. It might feel like real love to them. But it’s sort of a kid love from growing up together, and beautiful moments from their past when they hung out together.”

Is it incest? Perhaps not by the dictionary definition, but that doesn’t mean some viewers still don’t find it objectionable. It also seems to be could be construed as insensitive to the plight of adopted siblings.

It’s also a bit more complicated than another famous incestuous TV plotline: Jaime and Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. Whereas those characters were depicted as villainous — though Jaime eventually became a more sympathetic character — Luther and Allison are characters the audience is meant to get behind. 

So is the Luther/Allison storyline morally wrong? It’s difficult to say, but the question itself almost misses the point of creating compelling art. The relationship certainly presents a challenging dilemma for the characters, and while it may be uncomfortable for some to watch, placing characters into tough situations is what makes for great drama.

Without an internal conflict, the show would fall flat. Creating a winning TV show sometimes mean making tough narrative choices that aren’t easy for the characters to deal with. The Luther/Allison relationship would certainly qualify for that. 

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