Hollywood is manipulating me with fairy tales… and I like it


Let’s take a look at this past season of television, shall we?

Both NBC and ABC attempted to capitalize on my ‘I-like-fairy-tales-even-though-I’m-a-grown-up’ mentality. NBC with Grimm, and ABC (of course, backed by Disney) with Once Upon A Time. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited to watch them. But it wasn’t because they weren’t in my wheelhouse. On the contrary, I love this kind of stuff. But I’m not gonna lie–I didn’t think either show would last an entire season, let alone get renewed. I figured that they would either have nowhere to go with the plot and suck, or that they would be good, but get canceled. And since I don’t have a Nielsen box in my house (and therefore what I watch doesn’t matter), I decided to wait it out a bit before I committed to them. Though my sister says it’s good, I never got into Grimm (but I’ll probably catch up on it over the summer). I did, however, get into Once Upon A Time. Hard core. Once I finally let myself start it, they had me hooked from the very first episode.

The little kid inside me went absolutely bonkers during all of the fairy tale flashbacks–especially all of the Snow White-Prince Charming romance. Besides the fact that the actors have ridiculous chemistry (they’re dating in real life, which explains a lot) this version of Prince Charming the ultimate man. In the first episode, Charming fights hoards of evil henchmen while grasping his newborn child, wounded, determined to get her to safety so she can grow up and save everything they hold dear. Sexy much? Every girl wants a man like him–he has a steady moral compass, he’s handsome, caring, determined, courageous, and oh yeah, incredibly charming.

I’ve just realized something: fairy tales are the main reason why women have such unrealistic expectations for relationships. We expect all of you men to come swooping in (because you’re wearing fancy prince-capes), declare your undying love, and then defeat all manner of evil to protect us and ultimately win our hearts.

Mmmmm. Sorry, I started day dreaming about Josh Dallas for a minute… I’m fine now.

Besides all of the gooey romance, Once Upon A Time ties a lot of well-known Disney/classic fairy tale characters together in new and interesting ways. Even though I don’t remember Rumpelstiltskin being as powerful as he’s portrayed (didn’t he lose all of his power the minute you figured out his name?), he is a really complex and intriguing villain to watch, as is the Queen. You understand where they’re coming from, but you still hate them. The whole season, you’re really rooting for Emma to finally realize the truth, so the good characters can wake up and start kicking ass. The reason it really works though, is because you’re immediately invested in all of the characters. Even though the stories all have a twist on what you’re familiar with (SPOILER: Red Riding Hood actually is the wolf) they’re still, at heart, the characters you grew up watching in movies and reading about in storybooks. There’s already a bond there, and ABC knows it. In fact, they’re counting on it.

We can also look at the two Snow White re-tells that came out this year (just for fun). Mirror Mirror was marketed as a light-hearted, live-action (yet very animated in nature), fun interpretation on the Snow White story. It got horrible reviews. But I saw it, and not just because I love Julia Roberts (I’ve forgiven her and Florence Welch for Eat Pray Love).  I laughed a few times, but most of the laughter-inducing scenes were in the trailers that I had been watching for months in giddy anticipation. I knew I wasn’t going to be floored, but honestly, I didn’t need to be. I saw it because I love me some fairy tales, and a fairy tale I got. Snow White and the Huntsman is obviously a very different, much darker version than either Mirror Mirror or the original Disney classic. And even though I have no desire to watch Kristen Stewart look constipated for two hours and call it acting, there’s a good chance I’m going to see it…

Who am I kidding, I’ll see it.

So what have we learned here? Apparently, a surefire way to get me (and many others like me) to watch a television show or movie is to re-vamp a fairy tale. Why? Because the second I see it, I turn into a wide-eyed, princess-worshiping little girl. Hollywood is manipulating me with fairy tales. But I like it. So keep ’em coming.


9 thoughts on “Hollywood is manipulating me with fairy tales… and I like it

  1. I couldn’t get into either show (Once Upon A Time remains on my DVR; nearly a season’s worth, and will likely get watching during the summer TV duldrums) and had only a moderate desire to see Mirror, Mirror; I too am an adult fairytale nerd. I think it combines so many of the things and genres I like: history and fantasy, mythology and whimsy, the dark and the absurd and as a result, I can’t get enough. As something of a religious scholar, I love how fairy tales preserve the older religions of Europe after the practioners were converted at swordpoint by the Holy Roman Empire. So much to learn and it is a mysterious puzzle that needs to be put together to get the whole story.

    That big bad wolf that terrorizes his way through so many stories? He is representative of Fenris, the big bad of the Old Norse religion. Those old crones who prey on children? The Baba Yaga, mother of Russia, who lives in a house of bones. Leprechauns? A joke played on Stooping Lugh, the greatest of the Gaelic gods.

    But despite how much I love them for their pre-christian allegories; I love them more simply for the stories. A great fairy-tale related comic book called Fables manages to push all the characters into one overarcing narrative (and was optioned by both NBC and ABC prior to them developing their own fairy tale meets real world shows). I recommend it to anyone who likes comics or myths or, naturally, fables. Also for an interesting and dark take on Snow White, check out Neil Gaiman’s short story Snow, Glass, Apples.


    1. Haha holy crap you really like fairy tales. Skip Mirror Mirror, but watch Once Upon a Time. Once it started being a must-watch for me on Sundays, the Hubbster started watching it too–and he really likes it!


  2. Ugh I LOVED this show! I was always so excited to see what characters would pop up next. It’s a great show for us in the post-princess generation (the first movie I ever saw in theaters was The Little Mermaid) with a modern twist!


  3. But what about Hansel and Gretel? An epic re-telling of the fairy-tale, with thinly-veiled political messages about America’s obese youth? It’ll be Jonah Hill and America Ferrera being fattened up by Rosie O’Donnell, before Channing Tatum appears at the end to burn the cookie house down.

    Would you watch that?


  4. I didn’t think Once Upon A Time was going to be as good as it is; I was legitimately bummed when the season ended. I think it’s great that they’ve found a way to depict classic tales in a fresh, new way!


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