Published on Thursday, October 13, 2016 by Mackenzie Johnson
“And they lived happily ever after” … words that so many of us fell asleep to as children, but as we grow, we may think that it’s foolish to believe that we can have a happily ever after and life only about paying bills, going to school, and having a career. We struggle and we suffer, but is it wrong to think that we can’t have that ‘happily ever after’?
It is a challenge to bring a new spin to classic fairy tales. More than any other genre, fairy tales travel and transform, they are rewritten, remade, and retold. Disney’s television series Once Upon A Time combines stories from across the land of make believe into a live action show to make every adult’s inner child’s dream to come true.
The characters of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, who for much of the series have lived a sort of dual life as one life is lived through flashback in the land of fairy tales, and another is lived in the more normal world of Storybrooke, Maine, a place given life through a curse.
And things get complicated. Really complicated.
Originally the story of how a bail bondswoman named Emma reunites with her biological child and rescues him from his evil witch of a stepmother. The story later evolves into a story that even the Brothers Grimm might not be able to piece together. Ancient stories and legends blend with stories of modern Disney princesses and good and evil will trade roles frequently as characters develop.
Once Upon a Time was the brainchild Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz who originally teamed up to create the ABC series Lost. Die-hard Lost fans may say that Once upon a Time doesn’t have the same depth while some may argue that it has some of the same elements as Lost, such as combined worlds, different timelines, and relationships blinded by love. Fans of Once Upon a Time argue that it is a complete original series and has no ties to Lost, but instead utilizes elements of good storytelling to create a unique retelling.
Once Upon a Time sets up strong distinctions between good and evil, at least when it comes to selflessness and family loyalties. It gives viewers characters who seem to care about one another and it provides bedtime stories with morals. The show continually pounds away at the idea that nothing good comes cheap and that taking shortcuts ‘always comes with a price’. One might be tempted to use evil to fight evil, it tells us, but a darkening of the soul will always follow.
Through its fairy tale, the series communicates another important truth, we’re all more than we seem. We can be worse than we want, but we can also be better than we are. In the midst of pain and suffering, there’s a fairy tale to be found, not a fictional construct, but the understanding that our lives are wondrous, magical, and that “Happy ever after” everyone looks for.