ABC’s Once Upon A Time Spins Fairy Tales In A Different Way

ABC’s hit fantasy drama show Once Upon A Time is currently in its third season run, and to say the show is taking all sorts of twists and turns with the characters of Storybrooke is an understatement. Considering this show is created by the writing team of Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis who came out of another successful and popular TV show (Lost), then you can see where they might have gotten their influences from. If you aren’t currently swept under the spell of Once, making the attempt to jump in now would have you feeling…lost.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White (left) and Joanna Garcia Swisher as Ariel (right)
Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White (left) and Joanna Garcia Swisher as Ariel (right)

I’ve detailed my love for the show the first time it came out before on this blog and I’m still excited when the show comes back on with a new episode every Sunday nights. Sometimes I do find the plot threads thrown on the show a little too convoluted, but Lost can be argued as having the same issues too. It’s bound to happen when you have a large ensemble cast and new characters added in almost every few episodes. With the amount of stories and connections each character has to each other, you’ll need a chart to keep all of it straight. When you have a show about fairy tale characters who live and exist in our own world and in another world, you have a ton of characters to pull out and use at your whim. Notable examples from this season are Ariel of The Little Mermaid, Robin Hood, and Peter Pan.

Once is a show that likes to take all the Disney, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or any story we grew up with as a child and effectively turn it on its head. With Emma Swan as our main heroine and non-fairy tale character, she’s the window into this spectacular and oftentimes too insane-to-be-real other world. A lot of the times Emma herself admits she can’t quite believe the real story of each of these fairy tale characters aren’t exactly as how she remembers it.

Robbie Kay as Peter Pan
Robbie Kay as Peter Pan

The show does give us a refreshing take on the fairy tales we grew to love, and changes around who we originally think is the hero and villain of the story. Take for instance, Peter Pan. Season 3 takes some of the characters of Storybrooke to Neverland. If you’ve ever watched Disney’s Peter Pan, you know he’s the hero and Hook is the villain. Not so in Once’s world.

Peter Pan in the show’s version is an evil, manipulative teenager who uses tricks and mind games to get what he wants. Hook, while not exactly a saint himself, appears to be the flawed good guy of the show. If you come into watching the show with a fixed idea of seeing the stories being retold as we know them, then you may be disappointed. What makes Once an entertaining TV show is how the writers take the fairy tales we already know and changing the stories around to create something new. It’s also a much more mature take on fairy tales that grown ups can enjoy, but may not be suitable for their children to watch.

The cast of Once Upon a Time
The cast of Once Upon a Time

I’ve always loved fairy tales as a kid. I enjoy the escapism and believing the impossible is possible. Fairy tales have everything we love most about stories––heroes clashing swords with the villains, dragons, and epic tales of true love. When we come away from reading or watching fairy tales it leaves us with a good feeling and reminds us why imagining these fantastical tales in our heads was so much fun when we were children. Once Upon A Time gives you that, but makes it more relatable for the mature adult. Indulge in fantasy, but come away with themes and ideas we can all think about and apply in our own lives.

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8 thoughts on “ABC’s Once Upon A Time Spins Fairy Tales In A Different Way

  1. I have been adoring this show since the beginning, but you are absolutely right that newcomers can’t just jump into the 2nd or 3rd season without having seen the first…you can’t even jump into the middle of the first season without some history! I’ve been having a ball seeing my favorite characters re-imagined in Once Upon a Time, though some of them (like Mulan) aren’t quite as awesome as I thought.

    Have you been watching the spinoff in Wonderland? I haven’t gotten around to watching any of that but I’m wondering how it is.

    1. The show is really great. I have liked how they re-imagined certain characters like Snow, Ariel, and Hook, but I’m a little disappointed with Mulan and even Red! What ever happened to Red? She was really interesting until she kind of fell off to the wayside.

      I haven’t seen Wonderland, but I’ve been meaning to give it a try. I just haven’t had a chance to either. I plan on checking it out to see if I like that spin-off to want to follow it like Once.

  2. Disney made these fairy tales sweet and well, really fairy-tale like. Kids do not know , for example, that Sleeping Beauty and her prince Charming didn’t really end up together. When she fell asleep, she woke up 100 years later. Prince charming was already gone and most probably , dead. LOL

    And the Little mermaid died. Really sad and tragic, and unfair.

    And the 3 little pigs? the two died , eaten by the big, bad wolf.

    Most fairy tales are actually dark, almost creepy.

    1. You’re right. Disney really cleaned up a lot of these fairy tales, especially since not a lot of these stories had particularly happy endings. Then again, a lot of these fairy tales were meant to scare children into obedience, if I’m not mistaken.

      I do think Once Upon A Time kind of has that mix of Disney whimsy, but also the darkness found in most original fairy tales that would really give lots of children nightmares if read to them now.

  3. Ugh, I am going to have to start watching this some day. I loved Lost (except for how it ended) and I’m glad to hear this show is still going strong.

    1. Once has done quite well for itself. I do think some of the plot lines are a little complicated and maybe too out of left field sometimes, but I just enjoy seeing all these fairy tale characters come together and having a different story than the ones we know from Disney.

  4. I love this show too! I feel like somebody recommended it to me, and it might have been you… But anyway, I have finally started watching it in recent weeks and am enjoying it so much. I’m nearing the end of the first season now. I love that there’s a large cast of characters, yet it’s easy to keep track of them because their stories are already familiar to us… they just have new twists. =)

    You’re totally right about the show being great for adults because of the themes, even though part of the fun is indulging in childhood fantasy and enjoying fairytales, good vs evil, etc again.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying the show! 🙂 It really is easy to get into the backstories of each character. Like you said, we already know their stories but there’s a slight change or difference to it.

      I also love how they make fairy tales that would be considered primarily enjoyable for kids become something adults can dive into again. With the themes much more mature in nature, it gives us something to relate to now that we’re older.

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