I’ve been ill for the past few days. I’ve known for quite a long time that I’m one of the worst people to be around when I’m ill. Basically, I become a pathetic mess who refuses to suffer in silence and mopes around feeling sorry for herself. For the good of my family and friends I have proceeded to shut myself away and wallow. The only thing I was really good for was a nightly Netflix binge. Wanting something mindless and ridiculous to take my mind off my infected sinuses, it was the ideal time to finally watch Once Upon a Time. I’ve been intrigued by this show since the first season aired but I’ve never had the required Disney princess obsession that it built upon. I always preferred the animal stories and would rather have been Simba than Cinderella. The only princess I gave a shit about was Belle and that was only before she fell in love and became an idiot. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Brothers Grimm and stuff like that when I was growing up. However, I grew up. I find it weird for people over the age of thirteen being too into the idea of princesses. It’s fucking creepy.
I remember discovering the YouTube channel of someone I used to go to school with where she started to read out her undergraduate dissertation page by page: an idea that I’m sure the internet was crying out for. She was a fellow literature graduate and, in that sickeningly clichéd way, focused on gender and fairy tales. It was all the usual kind of Angela Carter bullshit that literary students love to go on and on about. I just don’t get people that have that much interest in fairy tales once they reach that age. Fairy tales are part of our rich literary history and I respect them for what they are. However, they are stories for children that waste too much time blathering on about love and forcing ideals down their readers’ throats.
Something that annoys me about Once Upon a Time. Love is everything. It’s like a fucking Baz Luhrmann film. I love a good romance as much as the next person but I worry about any narrative that tries to suggest that true love is all a person should be striving for. No matter what happens along the way, everything always comes back to love. I’m getting bored just talking about it. Now I’m not just some cynical fool that wants to put a downer on love. I love love. However, there’s more to life than finding someone to marry.
Although, I guess I was surprised by how much Once Upon a Time has to offer. It’s not as silly and saccharine as I first thought. I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece but there are some positives. Especially for a story which involves fairy tale characters falling under a spell, forgetting who they are, and going about their mundane lives in a dreary American town. It’s an interesting concept which has been realised in a way that anyone who ever watched Lostwill be all too familiar with. We see the real world characters interact with each other whilst flashbacks to their past lives play out mirroring the events. It may have an exciting format once upon a time but now it’s just overdone… and to be honest I much preferred the fairy tale lives to the modern one anyway.
The fairy tales, whilst not rewritten in any dramatic sense, have managed to make the women more at their centre more powerful. Snow White, whilst still as loved-up as always, is actually less of wet blanket than her Disney counterpart. This female revolution is lead by Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Coincidentally, she’s the only one that can stop the Evil Queen’s curse and help save everyone in town. I’ve liked Jennifer Morrison since I first watched House but in the few episodes I’ve seen of Season 1 Emma is really fucking annoying. She’s strong, yes, but really dull. I don’t know if I’m willing to follow her path to greatness.
In fact none of the characters really stand out that much at the moment. The writers really seem to be pinning all of their hopes on Robert Carlyle who plays an amalgamations of pretty much every fucking character you could think of. Now I think Carlyle is great but I don’t see why he’s got so much to do here. I guess they just wanted to get their money’s worth. His story just seems to drag and gets very bloated. I’m already bored to be honest.
That is one of the problems that I can see. You can tell everything is being dragged out to last the length of a series. The Snow White/Prince Charming love story is happening so fucking slowly I want to smash my computer screen and bitch slap them both. Once Upon a Time is too indulgent and tries to make a mystery out of everything. Which is fucking stupid when everyone knows the stories its dealing with.
To be fair, it’s an easy watch but there are so many plot holes and the narrative is so contrived that I just can’t take it seriously. It feels very B movie and cheap: almost desperate. Something not helped by the God awful special effects. Fairy tales are big business and I can see why someone would want to monetize on that further. I just haven’t seen much in season 1 so far that tells me this was the best way to do it. I’m sorry Tumblr but, once again, I still don’t really have a fucking clue why this is so popular.