Take Taboo Show on FX too Literally? What Taboos are Shown?

By | August 10, 2017

If you take the title of the Taboo show on FX too literally, is it really about Taboos?  If so, then what Taboos are shown on the show?

I’m not really sure that the Taboo show on FX is literally about taboos.  In fact, it probably is not.  It is presumably about James Keziah Delaney’s one man revolution and his rag-tag mercenary army/navy efforts at sovereign secession from the East India Company which is virtually indistinguishable in its dirty work from the Crown in this version of England during the War of 1812.  Is that what Taboo on FX is about?

Admittedly, at times it was hard to understand just what was going on in Taboo.  To echo one young observer’s quote after the Season One finale, one could be forgiven for just stating, “I’m not really sure what I just saw.”  This statement, in some respects, sums up the entire eight episode run of Taboo on FX pretty well.  And that is quite a bit of week-after-week not understanding what you just saw.

Nonetheless, Tom Hardy’s amazing performance as James, which at times consisted merely of grunts and guttural tones, was plenty compelling, replete with action, intrigue, and romance as a not-so-mild and decidedly bizarre side-dish.  James apparently had some rather rare tastes even before his sojourn to Africa.  Whether these were acquired tastes or he was just born into this may be explained in a future season.  If the show is anywhere near accurate, the English of the early 1800s were plenty kinky and that is putting things mildly.

In the last third of the season, I noticed a number of people quoting James with their favorite quotes of the season.  I found myself imitating him.  It was great material.  My favorite was, “What have you done?”  Innocuous enough on the face of it, he asked this question to his sister when she showed up at his front door for a round of romance after stabbing and chopping her husbands heart while he lay in bed all of which was after a very intense exorcism performed on her.  Make that an attempted exorcism.

So, some things would still be taboo.  But what may have been taboo then may be more accepted now and vice versa.

Let’s put what may or may not be taboos then and now as shown in Taboo on FX on a list for illustration purposes (only) to see what we are dealing with.  There may be many more than what is on this list because the show was so murky and opaque that it may have shrouded more subtle behavior and deeds that escaped easy categorization.  Here are the mild yes-noes to the major no-noes, listed in no particular order.

  1. Taboo pretty well flouted all of The Ten Commandments over and over again.  Some may be covered below exactly or in shades of the same;
  2. Incest/getting involved with your in-laws/coveting thy neighbor’s wife (especially if she is your sister);
  3. Tattoos/piercings;
  4. Slavery;
  5. Spying/treason/plotting against the government;
  6. Torture;
  7. Devil worship/Voodoo/African tribal rituals/pagan worship;
  8. Lying, cheating and stealing;
  9. Cross-dressing/men in drag/gay;
  10. Threats;
  11. Colonialism/colonial plundering/stealing from natives;
  12. Wrongful accusations/framing people for crimes;
  13. Blackmail;
  14. Bastard children/as the English common law would state in stark candor, the adulterine bastard/the bastard progeny of prostitution (the ne plus ultra of the adulterine bastard universe);
  15. Greed/gluttony;
  16. Possession by the devil/subsequent exorcism;
  17. Murder/killing/thou shall not kill;
  18. Interracial marriage, consorting, breeding/miscegenation;
  19. Making bombs and explosives;
  20. Prostitution;
  21. Way-too-old men married to way-too-young women;
  22. Poisoning;
  23. Putting some one out of their misery for their own good or as a nice thing to do, i.e., euthanasia;
  24. Forgery;
  25. Perjury/bearing false witness;
  26. Child labor (“Keep stirring, boy.”);
  27. Drinking/drunk;
  28. Cussing/The Lord’s name in vain;
  29. Drug use;
  30. Gossip-mongering;
  31. Digging up dirt on people;
  32. Dueling;
  33. Revenge;
  34. Arson;
  35. – 1,000,000+. Your observations here/additional pages may be attached.

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