In October 2011, a new drama series premiered on the American channel of NBC. ‘Once Upon A Time’, as the name suggests, is based on traditional fairy tales, incorporating well-known characters such as Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, and the Evil Queen. Despite a slightly fluffy-sounding preface, the nomination for four separate categories at the People’s Choice Awards, among other award shows, after its first season, demonstrates how well done it is. Thanks to modern adaptations of fairy tales (looking at you, Disney), the cultural assumption is that those stories are slightly…. childish. The original fairy tales, however, are not so full of rainbows and sparkles - instead there are physical, emotional and moral struggles, not to mention actual death. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, writers of ‘Lost’, ‘Tron: Legacy’ and ‘Once Upon A Time’ do not forget this. The realness of, and familiarity with the fictional character we were told bedtime stories about is what makes the show so fascinating.
The premise for the first season, and indeed, the entire show, is that in the Enchanted Forest, the land where fairy tales are real, the Evil Queen, Regina, casts a curse to ensure that none of her enemies would loose the thing they love the most. This essentially transported all the Forest’s inhabitants to the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, in the modern ‘real world’. Regina is the mayor, Snow White a schoolteacher, her Prince Charming in a coma. Things seem to be set in stone - that is, until Regina’s adopted son Henry brings his biological mother, Emma, to the town, and things start to change. The boy, thanks to a mysterious storybook, seems to have guessed what is truly going on, and is determined that everyone, including Emma, should believe him. Of course, when the Evil Queen is the only one in town who can remember their past, before being transported to this town, you certainly have a task facing you.
With such a complex base storyline, and forty minute long episodes, it’s certainly impressive that the writers have been able to hold the attention of their audience for so long. But with such a popular reception, it is clear that they have been able to do so. Not only have they received the People’s Choice nominations following their first season, but also for the 64th and the 65th annual Emmy awards, and various Visual Effects Society Awards. The latter nomination links to further strong features of the show; their production departments. Not only the effects, but the costumes, special effects make up, and stage design are outstanding, demonstrating how much effort and love has been put into the show.
‘Once Upon A Time’, now filming for its fifth season, is clearly incredibly successful for a reason. Whilst this is undoubtedly due to such factors as the writing, casting, directing, etc., it can also be partially attributed to the love those who work onset have for their show. The strong friendships formed between the cast and crew is evidence of this - hopefully ‘Once Upon A Time’ will continue to bring joy to both those who make it, and those who watch it.