Yes, I am the idiot who became addicted to a TV show that was on season five by the time I started watching it.
This is good, in that I don’t have to wait a week – or, god forbid, a year – to find out what happens from one episode, or season, to the next. However, the fact that I have made my way through four-and-a-half seasons, one hundred episodes and approximately sixty-seven hours of television in under four months means that my productivity in my free time has reduced to around zero. (Incidentally, I only just realised when counting that that was the hundredth episode – I had been thinking it was especially good, though.)
It’s not great, but it meant when I sat down today, determined to write a post, the immediate topic that sprang to mind was the things I love about Once Upon a Time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sure the writers know where the show is going (apart from season one, which had a clear direction); there is the occasional deus ex machina, and sometimes it’s like they have a hat full of the names of fairytale/Disney characters and they just pick a new one every few weeks, but I really don’t care! It’s pure escapism.
So here we go – one for the fellow fans, or my recommendation for those who don’t watch it yet.
[Minor spoilers in terms of concept and characters that will appear.]
- I love re-imaginings of fairy tales. I almost wrote an essay here about this – Shrek! Wicked! – but I have decided it might make a better post on its own. The basic gist was that I love the fact that the writers have taken characters we think we know inside out and put them in a different context (the ‘real world’, shock horror), as well as showing how they might link together.
- Emma is a brilliant main character. In so many TV shows, if someone suspected that a person was out to get them, they would organise some elaborate plan to discover what the person really thinks. In Once Upon a Time, if Emma hears that something (or someone) might threaten her or her kid, she marches right up to said person and asks what the hell’s going on.
- It’s full of fantastic female characters. I will steer away from the word ‘strong’ as it’s clichéd, but many of these are well-rounded, flawed characters, and they certainly are not waiting around to be saved. Turning the familiar, fairytale trope on its head, it is more often the women – Emma, Snow White, Mulan, Merida – who save the day…
- … constantly, because it’s just one curse after another in Storybrooke. Sometimes, characters in TV shows lose their memories. Sometimes, they lose them two, three, four times… I can’t remember… Yes, this gimmick is overused, but I find it funny rather than irritating.
- It has some great characters in general: Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook to name two you’ll have heard of. Captain Hook is also very attractive, but that’s neither here nor there. Although if we were to take a moment to be superficial, the show is full of pretty people. It’s very easy to watch.
- Emma has been wearing the same jacket for approximately five years. Hook and Elsa are only two of the characters who appear to wear the same outfit every day. I guess after a couple of hundred years, you find the style that suits you.
- There are simple and complicated love stories. Despite the obstacles they had to overcome to be together, Snow White and Charming are presented as true love. Emma, on the other hand, has two main love interests, and I couldn’t choose between them.
- The main themes are love, hope and redemption, which are basically the best themes in a story. How love can lead to redemption, how it can lead to hope, but also how it can lead to far worse, like…
- Brilliant ‘villains’. And delving into their back stories provides explanation, if not justification, for how they became the way they did. Motivations! Who doesn’t love exploring motivations?!
- It’s not as simple as good and evil. There are grey areas, and people can change.
- ‘Magic always comes at a price.’ Rumplestiltskin’s favourite phrase leads to sacrifice and deals aplenty. And the idea that you don’t get something for nothing is a great lesson for everybody.
- The humour. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Captain Hook: You need a hand, love?
Emma: Is that a joke?
‘I almost married a minion of my evil grandfather, Peter Pan, so I know what you’re saying.’
Mulan: What’s it like? The other world?
Neal: Well, for starters, they think that this place is just a fairy tale. Like a legend, like we’re all just characters in a story.
Mulan: I’m in a story?
Neal: Yeah, they made a movie about you. It’s actually pretty good.
Mulan: What’s a movie?
- And it has lots of lovely quotes too:
‘I will always find you.’
‘People are gonna tell you who you are your whole life. You just gotta punch back and say, “No, this is who I am”. You want people to look at you differently? Make them! You want to change things, you’re gonna have to go out there and change them yourself, because there are no fairy godmothers in this world.’
‘And what exactly do you think fairy tales are? They are a reminder that our lives will get better if we just hold on to hope. Your happy ending may not be what you expect, but that is what will make it so special.’
Now, I’d better go; I still have about ten episodes left to watch.
Have a lovely Sunday!