With ABC’s Once Upon a Time heading into its season two fall finale tonight, I thought this might be a good time to talk about it. I liked the pilot and first few episodes — though I certainly found the stories in Fairytale Land to be far more interesting than whatever was going on in Storybrooke. But I quit watching about midway through the season when Mary Margaret Blanchard and David (aka Snow White and Prince Charming, even though they don’t remember those lives) were being horrible people.
I was happy to leave it there, and let Grimm be my tie to TV with fantastic elements (grammar note: while “fantastical” is technically a word, it’s also a waste of time). But then my friend Tim was all “OMG, we have to watch ‘Once Upon A Time!’ And wouldn’t you know, I got sucked right back in for season two.
I still roll my eyes and “Oh, this show,” at it a lot, but it’s undeniably fun. And Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) is a pretty, pretty man. I’ve enjoyed seeing the way it integrates classic and not-so-classic fairytale characters into its story, even if I maintain that Rumplestiltskin cannot be everybody and its mythology regarding red riding hoods is kind of stupid. But one of things I’m appreciating the most is the depth it gives it’s characters. Well, the depth it gives its villains, at any rate. While there’s definitely room in a series of this nature for characters to be outright evil for evil’s sake, Once Upon a Time let’s you understand why Regina (the Evil Queen, played by Lana Parrilla, who orchestrated the curse that ripped the fairytale characters from their world and gave them new, boring memories) and Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin, played by Robert Carlyle) are the way that they are.
I’m still finding Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) to be fairly dull, which is disappointing. Because they weren’t dull before the curse, but once they got their Mary Margaret and David identities, it’s like all the awesome got sucked out of them. And now that they remember who they are…yeah, still a little dull. I want to blame Mary Margaret’s ridiculous pink cardigan for continuing to sap her awesomeness. But at the same time…when she does happen to get her badassery on now that she, Emma, Aurora and Mulan are trapped in Fairytale Land, I suppose it’s nice to buck stereotypes. Why *can’t* Snow White kick ass in a pink cardigan if she wants to? We’ve already got Mulan and Emma rocking the leather over there, after all.
And that’s what I really appreciate about this show. There’s an entire plot line that’s just a bunch of mostly-strong women (let’s be honest, I have little use for Aurora) running around a forest getting stuff done. And yeah, they have their moments that make me cringe — the story about Charming lighting candles to make Snow’s bad dreams go away is dumb between adults but kind of cute when Charming does the same thing for Henry — but what other show on prime-time network TV is giving this many women this much exposure?
And I don’t really feel like the men are getting the shaft, either. Between Hook, Rumplestiltskin, Charming, Henry and a slew of supporting characters ranging from Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge, who will always be Carth Onassi from Knights of the Old Republic to me) to the seven dwarves, this is a really well-balanced show when it comes to gender, I think.
So, even though it can be more than a little ridiculous and runs the risk of getting bogged down in all its flashbacks and mythology, it’s still a show worthy of my time. Also, it looks like a sword fight tonight! Yay! I’ve been missing my swordplay fix since abandoning Revolution.