Some people show off their snobby side when I tell them that I love watching ABC’s Once Upon a Time. “You’re into fairy tales?” is the usual retort. So, to set the record straight… I love fairy tales.
The premise of Once Upon a Time is fairly simple. Fairy tale characters have taken human form under the curse of the Evil Queen and Rumpelstiltskin and they cannot remember their former fairy tale life. Cinderella is a stay at home mom, Snow White is a school teacher and Prince Charming (or as he likes to be called, James) woke up after years of being in a coma. In the fairy tale world, their stories are complicated and layered as Snow White is tough and independent while the Prince actually was raised as a commoner. Now, they all live in the town of Storybrooke in Maine under the political reign Regina Mills (the Evil Queen) until Emma Swan comes back to town. Here’s the complicated part… Snow White and Prince Charming had a baby named Emma, and before the Queen cast her spell, they sent the baby ahead, to save them all from the curse. Now, Emma has returned to Storybrooke with her son (who was adopted by the Evil Queen) and is slowly changing the fate of every fairy tale character.
I can understand how that all sounds a bit… crazy. Trust me, I thought the premise sounded a bit crazy before I started watching. But you’re won over so quickly by the stories that it’s easy to forget the small flaws (not the best special effects and some characters lines feel adolescent in comparison to others). But when I’m watching this show, I never know what’s around the next corner and I’ve literally gasped at some of the unexpected twists. This is one of the only shows on TV where I wish I could just sit down with the writers and pick their brains to truly understand how they come up with these complicated plot lines. Also, I think it’s important to note that a few of the writers of Lost transferred their talent over to this show. The level of detail is very similar to the unique Lost-style.
The show is filmed predominately in Canada and the use of the lush Canada terrain is breathtaking. Most fairy tales take place in the forest and these forests truly look magical. The set of Storybrooke feels like a real town, complete with a dusty old inn and a diner where everyone awkwardly runs into one another. The set design is so intricate in both worlds, ornate in the fairy tale and the perfect modern spin on real world places. The Queen’s study is cold and sterile, but with a fantastical feel. Snow’s vintage-chic apartment is the perfect compliment to a modern day princess.
When I was trying to describe the wonderful care put into each outfit, my mom suggested the word “costume” and I find that describes precisely what I was thinking. Not only does each real world outfit serve as a modern uniform for their fairy tale self, but the fairy tale clothing is such a fine mix of whimsy and fantasy. The Evil Queen’s gowns seem to be constructed by hand, down the the lace on the collar to the beaded headdresses. Rumpelstiltskin’s golden skin isn’t an entirely altering change from the real world, but it gives a firm reminder of his evil spirit.
Speaking of Rumpelstiltskin… the man in an incredible actor. He can do what so many actors cannot achieve… he becomes the character entirely. It’s difficult for me to imagine him in any other role, as any other character or that he’s actually a real person. How many actors can you say that about? No matter what, Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, James Franco is James Franco. This man is 100% Rumpelstiltskin.
Finally, I truly like all of these actors. Judging by interviews and tweets, it seems obvious that they really like each other as well. In the process, they’ve all become good friends and I find that to be obvious onscreen. I mean, HOW CUTE is that little boy? He’s adorable. Jennifer Morrison plays Emma with such a masculine, strong edge but at the same time, she’s beautiful and troubled. Ginnifer Goodwin is exactly how I would picture a fairy tale princess. And… I had SUCH a crush on the Sheriff. I still haven’t forgiven the writers for that mishap.