Fantasy TV series are scarce on broadcast television. Few networks will take a chance on these programs because of fierce competition for ratings. This year there are two programs, “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm,” shows that are based on fairy tales. The first one is doing well in the ratings, gaining more viewers every week. “Once Upon a Time” has an interesting story, appealing characters and familiar themes.
“Once Upon a Time” takes place between two worlds, ours and the fairy tale one. Regina, the queen from the Snow White tale, places a curse on the fairy tale world causing the characters to live their lives in our world without memory of their fairy tale ones. Emma, a daughter of two characters, escapes the curse. She is pulled to the town of Storybrooke when her son she gave up for adoption comes to get her to help break the curse. Each episode focuses on a different fairy tale woven into the overall arc of the struggle between Snow White and Queen Regina. Using a different fairy tale each week keeps the story building interest for the viewer.
Next, the creators of the series make the characters appealing to draw the viewers into their stories. Each week a character from a fairy tale is focused on in our world. Flashbacks to their lives in the fairy tale world enhances the character’s story to explain what they are like and why they react the way they do in our world. Viewers see growth in the characters each week. This growth and the insights gained by each flashback keeps the character appealing and the viewers coming back for more.
Finally, viewers are drawn to the show by the familiar themes. The show has many themes that resonate with people. There is the the theme of good versus evil between the queen and Emma, Snow White and the prince. Love is a large underlying theme that drives character s to do heroic or cruel deeds. The importance of family is a strong theme throughout the show, demonstrating how families are helpful or can be destructive to their loved ones. Fairy tales are a good source of themes for the show to draw from since they contain many of these themes. These familiar universal themes keep viewers returning to the show each week.
“Once Upon a Time” is an entertaining new fantasy television series on broadcast television. Blending characters from fairy tales living in our world due to a curse creates a strong series with an interesting story, appealing characters and familiar themes. As viewer numbers grow, the series should be renewed for next year. Hopefully there will be more fantasy series tried in the future.