Category Archives: Once Upon A Time

I Love My Red Hair

When you’re a kid, you want to fit in. The last thing you want is to stick out like a sore thumb. When you’re a redhead, you stick out whether you like it or not.

Though I am proud of my red hair now, there were many times as a kid that I wished that my hair was another color. It took many years and a lot of work, but at nearly 40, I have come to love my hair.

Today is National Redhead Day. Thanks to this day, How to be a Redhead and three of the characters below (which is a short version of a very long list), I appreciate my hair in ways that I did not in the past.

Zelena-Once Upon a Time (Rebecca Mader)

Zelena is a redheaded badass because she knows what she wants and she goes after it. Though she may not (at least in the beginning) care that she is hurting others, it is her confidence and her one-liners that makes me proud to be a redhead.

MeraAquaman (Amber Heard)

Mera is a queen in every sense of the word. But instead of being the standard female royal who waits for things to happen (i.e. rescued from the big bad), Mera takes charge of her own life. She is also unafraid to stand up for what is right, even if that means going into battle.

Demelza PoldarkPoldark (Eleanor Tomlinson)

It takes a strong woman to be true to herself in an era when a woman is supposed to be meek, mild and subservient to her husband. Demelza Poldark (nee Carne) may have been born a miner’s daughter, but she has not forgotten who she is. Though she is a member of the upper class through her marriage, Demelza is still a tough as nails working-class girl who is intelligent and more than capable of standing on her own two feet.

I am going to end this post with a quote for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. It’s time to not care what others think and embrace who we are.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss

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Filed under Mental Health, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Poldark, Television

Pardon Me, My Depression Has Spoken For me

There are some illnesses that are obvious via physical symptoms. The various forms of mental illness are very often referred to as invisible illness because symptoms are not always obvious to the naked eye.

I have lived with depression for years. It often speaks for me when I cannot. The problem is that when it speaks for me, it does not speak the truth.

Courtesy of fanpop.

It speaks of my anxieties, my insecurities. It reveals that in spite of all I have worked for and achieved, I am still worth nothing. The people in my life are lying to me. I am worth nothing and the only place I should be is the grave.

If we have a conversation and my depression decides to speak for me, please pardon me. It is not me who is speaking, but one who has taken over my tongue and my thoughts. It is my depression.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Mental Health, Music, Once Upon A Time

As With All Good Things, Once Upon A Time Must End

Today, it was announced that this season will be the last for Once Upon A Time.

I have two gut reactions to this announcement. Logically, I know that seven years of being on television is pretty good. Many shows don’t make it past the first season, much less seven seasons. It has had a good run. Perhaps in fifteen or twenty years there will be a nostalgia for the show and it will be brought back just as many of popular television shows from the late 1990’s/early 2000’s are successfully being rebooted for today’s audience.

My other reaction is sadness, to be honest. The genius of this program is to take the very basic fairy tale characters/narratives and twist them into characters/narratives that the audience has not seen before. When it premiered in 2011, it was different, exciting and felt new and old at the same time. I’ve been a fan since the pilot and have not missed an episode.

We have until the end of the season to say goodbye. I have a feeling there will be quite a few tears shed before, during and after the series finale.

To ease my tears and yours, I give you the last minute of the end of last season. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.

 

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Filed under Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Emma Swan

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every story starts with a hero/ protagonist. In Once Upon A Time, that hero is Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). At the beginning of the series, Emma has been on her own for as long as she can remember. Orphaned at a young age, she works as a bail bonds woman. On her 28th birthday, there is a knock on her door.

Opening the door, she finds a young man on the other side. His name is Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore) and he tells Emma that he is the baby she gave up for adoption ten years before. Henry also tells Emma that the book of fairy tales in his bag are not works of fiction, but true stories. Emma is not an orphan, but the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Her parents and the rest of the citizens of Storybrooke are cursed by The Evil Queen (Lana Parilla), they do not know that they are fairy tale characters. It is up to Emma to break the curse and restore their memories.

When the audience meets Emma, she is smart and independent but also very cynical around the world around her. She reluctantly takes Henry home, expecting to immediately turn around and return to her life as if nothing has happened. Emma does not know that she is about to go on a hero’s journey that will forever change the course of her life.

To sum it up: The hero and their hero’s journey is the core of any story. When a writer has done their job, the reader or the audience member is easily able to go along with the hero on their journey. Emma Swan is the perfect hero because not only does she go on a hero’s journey that no one would have ever predicted, but also she comes into the world of Storybrooke as an outsider and leaves as the Savior.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Captain Hook

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the classic story of Peter Pan, Captain Hook is the antithesis of the youthful hero. Hook, a pirate by trade, would like nothing more than to finally defeat Peter Pan once and for all. An older man who wears a long dark wig, Hook is the stand in for being a certain age.

Once Upon A Time decided to change-up the character. Instead of the old man wearing the wig, Captain Hook, aka Killian Jones (Colin O’Donoghue) is a rock and roll version of the character. Wearing leather and still sporting the  traditional metal hook, Hook’s initial enemy is not Peter Pan, but Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle).  Hook’s other half at the time is Milah (Rachel Shelley), Rumple’s estranged wife.

Though Hook starts off as a villain, he becomes a hero and the significant other of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). Emma is initially skeptical of Hook, his charm and smooth talk are not exactly turns ons in the beginning. But underneath that charm and smooth talk is a man who has conviction, heart and fights for who and what is important to him.

To sum it up: Taking a classic character and rewriting them while keeping the known characteristics is like walking a fine line. On one hand, the writer is tasked with the very difficult job of not simply copying what has been done before. But on the other hand, find a way to combine the new version of the character with the characteristics and narrative that the audience has come to know and love or hate is an equally difficult task.

When it comes to OUAT’s version of Captain Hook, the writers found a way to balance what was known about Captain Hook with a new narrative and new character arc. A  good writer knows which characteristics, narrative elements and character arc fits their version of their character while declining to use other elements that don’t fit in with their story. It’s a challenge that many a writer has faced, but if it is done properly, the writer is able to blend the old with the new and create a character that both fits in with the older image while creating a brand new image of the character.

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Once Upon A Time Character Review: Henry Mills

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

At the center of every fairy tale is hope and a belief that things will work out for the best. Without either of those elements, a fairy tale is simply not a fairy tale. In Once Upon A Time, hope and belief is personified in the character of Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore). Henry is the natural son of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the adopted son of Regina Mills (Lana Parilla) and the center of a very complicated family tree.

It is Henry who finds Emma at the beginning of the first season and convinces her to come with him to Storybrooke.  Throughout the course of the first six seasons, Henry holds onto his beliefs, even when it appears that hope is dead and happy endings only occur in books.

To sum it up:  We all need hope in our lives. Hope is the one thing that pulls us through when nothing else can. The world can be a very dark place. When we are writing our stories and sculpting both the narrative and the character arcs, hope is an important element of the foundation of the hero’s journey. Hope helps the hero through their toughest task, as it does in real life when we feel like the obstacles are insurmountable.

One of the wisest women I know of, Jane Austen, wrote about hope in the following manner in Sense and Sensibility:

Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience-or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Once Upon A Time, Sense and Sensibility, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Prince Charming

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Prince Charming has been a stock character since the beginning of storytelling. He is there to rescue the heroine (presumably a princess in her own right or a soon to be princess), sweep her off her feet and live happily ever after with her. The problem is that this character has become such a staple of our stories to the point where we expect nothing more of this character than the standard narrative and character arc.

The writers of Once Upon A Time, have cleverly found a way to flip this stock character on his head, as they do with all of their characters. In Prince Charming’s case, he is not what he seems to be. Charming, as his wife, Snow White, calls him, was born to a poor family. Until he was an adult, he was not aware of the fact that he had a twin. This twin, James, was raised in the palace as the King’s son. When James was killed, Charming took his brother’s place and was nearly forced to marry a princess whom he did not love or care for until fate and Snow White stepped into his path.

In Storybrooke, Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) is known as David Nolan. Like his fairy tale land alter ego, David was not only unaware of the woman whom his heart belonged to, but also of his identity. Even after the curse was broken, it was not always sunshine and rainbows for David and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), Snow White’s Storybrooke alter ego. There were both internal and external forces trying to pulling them apart.  But no matter what, David/Prince Charming and Mary Margaret/Snow White always found their way back to each other.

To sum it up: There is nothing wrong with writing a fairy tale style romance. But, the issue that the writer must contend is that that the romance and the relationship has to feel real and human. The characters must be imperfect and face challenges. If the writer sticks to the standard and predictable narrative and character arc, the reader or audience, will see both a mile away. Unpredictability makes life interesting and makes a story interesting. Interesting stories=interested readers. And interested readers always come back for more.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Snow White/ Mary Margaret Blanchard

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Snow White is one of the quintessential fairy tales. The jealous stepmother, the poison apple, the handsome prince are all part of the basic narrative and character makeup of the fairy tale genre. But that does not mean that every writer has to stick to the same basic narrative and character arc.

In Once Upon A Time, there are two versions of Snow White  (played by Ginnifer Goodwin). In fairy tale land, Snow White is for the most part, the same character that audiences have come to know, with a few minor and important updates. In Storybrooke, she is Mary Margaret Blanchard, a teacher who in the beginning of the first season, like of most of the characters, were unaware of their true identities due to the curse that brought them to Storybrooke in the first place.

When the curse was lifted at the end of the first season, Snow White and Mary Margaret merged into one character. While she has her true love, Prince Charming/David Nolan (Josh Dallas, Goodwin’s real life husband), she also continually in the cross-hairs of her stepmother, The Evil Queen/Regina Mills).

This Snow White is an interesting mix of the traditional Snow White and characteristics of a modern, independent woman who audiences have come to expect.  She has a good heart and takes care of those around her, but also has no problem being a bad-ass when circumstances arise.

To sum it up: While traditional fairy tale characters (especially female characters) are great, they have been done to death. What the writers Of Once Upon A Time have very smartly done is taking the basic characters and narratives that exist with the fairy tale world and twisted them into new characters and narratives that audiences have not seen before. With Snow White, they have retained the skeleton of the character, but have made her human.

As writers, our job is not to create stock characters, but to use those stock characteristics as a building block for the character arc.  Stock characters are great, but if a writer just uses that stock character without building it up, the reader may feel like they have seen the story before and walk away. We don’t want the reader to walk away, so we must make sure that our characters are built up enough to stand on their own two feet and not rely on the standard stock character that has been seen for far too long.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Thought On The 25th Anniversary Of Aladdin

25 years ago today, Aladdin hit theaters.

Loosely based (and I do mean loosely based) on the folktale One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin (Scott Weinger) is an orphaned boy living on the streets in fictional Agrabah.  He falls in love with Princess Jasmine (voiced by Linda Larkin) and asks Genie (voiced by the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) to make him a prince. But the king’s right hand man, Jafar (voiced by Jonathan Freeman) sees through Aladdin’s disguise and has plans to use Aladdin and Genie for his own ends.

As much as my former child self adores this movie, my adult self has a few qualms about this movie.

  • These characters are stereotypes. I get that this Disney’s attempt at cultural sensitivity and multiculturalism, but their attempt is merely an attempt, not a success.
  • Jasmine is 15 and an unnatural size 2. She is also the only major female character and tries to come off as a strong female character, but doesn’t really come off as the creative team intended.
  • All of the actors are Caucasian. Not even the scene stealing performance of Robin Williams can dull that fact.
  • The ending can be seen a mile away.
  • There is a subliminal message about underage teenage sex. Stop the video below at :19.

While more current adaptations of the movie (including the stage production, the upcoming movie with Will Smith as Genie and the reboot via Once Upon A Time) have tried to correct the errors of the 1992 film, there are some things about this film that as a thirty something, doesn’t sit well with me.

Readers, what are your thoughts about this film? I would be curious to know.

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Filed under Fairy Tales, Feminism, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Mr. Gold/ Rumpelstiltskin

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the tradition telling of Rumpelstiltskin, he is a magical imp who spins straw into gold for a young woman in return for something she will give him. One of the catchphrases of Once Upon A Time is “magic comes with a price”. The character of Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is initially introduced to the audience as the show’s male villain. He loved nothing more than trading favors with mortals in return for something precious to them.

Then the characters of Belle (Emilie de Raven), his second wife and Neal/Baelfire (Michael-Raymond James), his first-born son were introduced. Both Belle and Neal/Baelfire forced Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold to face his own demons, his choices and his past.

To sum it up: A few years ago, when asked to describe where his character was at, in terms of the character arc, Robert Carlyle described Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold as having an addiction to magic. Like any addiction, it often superseded his relationships with his loved ones. Addiction can often break relationships, but if the person addicted is willing to do the work, the addiction can be conquered.

When writing about characters wrestling with addiction issues, it is our job to explore how addiction can potentially break families and destroy lives. If the addiction is written either lightly or over-dramatically, the audience will not believe that the character has their addiction. Written about an addicted characters is not easy, but if it is done right, the audience will follow along on the character’s journey.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television