Monday, July 1, 2013

Why Once Upon a Time?

 I've mentioned my favorite television show a few times here.  Once Upon a Time is a pretty obvious choice for a Disney fan, and it was practically tailor made for me.  However, my level of obsession with this show has reached levels that no other show has ever done before.  Oh sure, I've loved other shows.  I was quite the Ghost Whisperer fan a few years ago, I went through a major Full House phase in middle school, and Bewitched is still my all time favorite classic sitcom, but nothing has quite resonated with me as much as the tale of every storybook character living together in a little town in our world has.

So why do I love Once Upon a Time so much, anyway? Well, first you have the obvious.  I'm a Disney geek.  OuaT is produced by Disney and borrows a lot from the films we love which I've pointed out in an earlier entry.  The stories aren't exactly like their Disney counterparts, but where is the surprise in that?  The new and unexpected twists and turns are what make the show so fun.  Who knew Snow White once lived as a bandit and works a bow and arrow like a pro? Who knew the evil queen had mommy issues?  Who knew Jiminy Cricket was once a man?  I also get a huge kick out of all the Disney references they toss in.

OuaT is filled with some of my favorite story elements.  For one thing, it's like a big mish mash of a fanfiction crossover.  You have a scene in which the Evil Queen from Snow White is conspiring with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland and Captain Hook from Peter Pan! Rumpelstiltskin falls in love with Belle from Beauty and the Beast! Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood are best friends! Rumpelstiltskin uses the Mad Hatter and Dr. Frankenstein to manipulate the Evil Queen! It's so intriguing how all the various stories are intertwined.  I used to dabble in Disney crossover fanfic myself.  I started a crazy story called "The Great Disney Switch" when I was 13, which you can read here if you are curious:

Ouat has great potential for fish-out-of-water situations which I've always loved. You have all these characters from folklore and pop culture interacting with our world.  The contrast between their worlds and ours are a big part of the show's appeal.  I was tickled, for instance, at Belle's introduction to iced tea and hamburgers or Aurora's reaction to Emma's contemporary jacket or Emma trying to attack a dragon with a gun. The whole concept of fairy tale magic in our world is delicious. Any sort of magical elements in a story will hook me though.

While fairy tales and magic are a big part of OuaT, they are not even the only reason I watch.  The series also has strong emotional ties.  The characters are real people, not cardboard cutouts. No one is entirely good or entirely bad.  They are human....heightened reality, sure, but still human- even the villains.  The magic, if you will, of the show is that it takes these characters who have done truly awful, unforgivable, things and then turns around and makes you feel for them and care about them! The Evil Queen isn't just a vain, sadistic ruler.  She's Regina, a broken woman who spent her whole life being manipulated.  Often times, the non-magical character relationship moments are my favorite.  The characters are all in one mindbogglingly dysfunctional family, and the way in which their situations unfold just draws you in and leaves you wanting more.

No, the show isn't perfect- after all, the writers and creators are all human too! Not to mention, every fan has his or her own ideas on what it should be like, and they can't please everyone.  However, at this point, I'm so invested in the story and the characters that I will follow through until the end even if everyone else decides they've "jumped the shark."  Right now we are in the summer hiatus before season 3, and I -for one- cannot wait to find out what happens in the next chapter of this epic tale!

The cast of Once Upon a Time at this year's Paleyfest


  1. Well said, Angela. I have only watched a couple of episodes, myself, but I'm sure I would be hooked, as well, if I let myself invest more time in the show.

    ~ Jeanette

  2. The show is certainly excellent at making the audience wonder, "What will happen next?"

    -- Lance Snead