Once Upon a Time

While I’m bedridden, I may as well bore you with some commentary on the best show in the whole world, ever, Once Upon a Time. (I swear that they are not paying me to write this. If only!)

I have always loved fairy tales and magical characters and adventure, and so this show definitely spoke first to that interest. The writing is brilliant, and the ways in which the creators have adapted old stories are clever and unexpected. A Jack the Giant Slayer whose full name is Jacqueline. A badass bandit Snow White. Red Riding Hood’s granny with a sawed off shotgun. I love the strong women in this show, created by two men.

The acting, too, is so moving, so good. The amazing Robert Carlyle plays the character of Rumplestiltskin, and if you have never seen this man in action, you owe it to yourself to watch just one episode of this show, just to watch him work. He’s the best, I would say, but the rest of the ensemble is also amazingly strong.

But mostly, I love it because it’s so real. I write about it in my journal. I fall in love with the characters and cry when someone cries or gets hurt. When a character I hated died, I cried for an hour because the actress who played her daughter was so anguished, I could feel what she felt. “What am I going to do?” she wailed. And I remembered wailing the exact same thing when my mother died, and I cried with her.

Essentially, these are stories about family. The characters may get what they want through magic, but the things that they want — love, happiness, forgiveness, revenge — are all too human. The regret of a parent who abandoned his son, the bitterness of that son who had to grow up alone. The fear of not being a good father or mother. The envy of one sister by another. They may travel through magical portals between worlds and fight soul sucking wraiths, but the truth is deeper than that. They are people. I see myself in nearly every episode.

The writers and creators of this show have tapped into a universal store of human emotion through fantastical stories with flying pirate ships and fairies with pixie dust. This show inspires me to write more deeply, more honestly, more bravely, because I want my stories and characters to feel as real as these versions of Snow White and Belle and Captain Hook.

This show also makes me want to hug my son and my husband every night, to be thankful for them, that we’re all together. And that’s a pretty good spell to be under.

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