Monday, March 31, 2014

Once Upon a freak-frackin' Time

Because I care about your feels, here is a disclaimer:
I hate when people write scathing reviews of things that I love and then say,
"It's cool if you like it, but this is my opinion [so suck it],"
which is the basic equivalent to,
"I'm sorry you feel that way,"
which we all know means,
"I'm sorry you're an idiot and don't realize that you're wrong and I'm right."
I don't want you to feel that way.
So I'm telling you now.
If you are still in love with Once Upon a Time, as I was (once upon a time) (wah wah),
it would probably be best for all parties if we parted ways here and now.
If you have nerves of steel and don't give a bother what I think
(do your thang, honey badger)
then please feel free to continue on through this post and simply agree to disagree.
Also **spoilers**

Here's a thing.
It's a rantish thing. And I'm going to be crucified for it, I'm sure.
"Once Upon a Time", the abc show, is everything I should love and adore. I mean, fairytale adaptations and Robert Carlyle. What more could you want? And I do want so badly to love and adore it. I want to fangirl up and down all over it, but I can't. In good conscience, anyway. It got too soap opera for my tastes.
We haven't watched since they escaped Neverland and Pan hijacked Henry's body. That kind of broke our resolve to continue slogging through the incessant "plot twist" drama fest.
Which, like, I am no stranger to. I mean, Grey's Anatomy fan of the month here and how many times have Cristina and Owen done their redundant tango? And how genius was that last episode? And I totally called it, too, at the end of last week's episode when everything was so cheery and bright and shiny.
So like, I do soap opera-ish.
But I think the acting is part of the problem. My problem.
And I legitimately cannot stand the character of Henry or that poor little kid actor who tries his darndest but he can't escape the mediocre. I blame lack of experience and writing. Cuz he's gotten better since the beginning of the show so his acting chops are obviously being honed, good on him, but the character still brings me to cringing and awkward writhing on the couch. (Let's not even talk about Peter Pan and his agonizing eyebrow.)
And considering Henry is/has the "Heart of the Truest Believer" and basically the center of nearly the whole series, it's a bit of an issue that I daydream ways to write him out of the show.
So we haven't watched an episode in 6 weeks and I just used the ever useful wikipedia episode synopsies to quickly catch up on what happened since we left and see whether we were missing out and GAIZ. I am filled to the brim with gratitude that we left when we did.
And I let Mark in on just how grateful I was;

I am losing my mind reading these summaries.
There is something to be said for symbolic parallels in story arcs BUT COME ON NOW. And the family relations has really gotten ridiculous. And I'm still not over Graham's untimely death or August being turned into a child (who just disappears from the plot) and now apparently Neal's "dead" **spoilers, sorry**. Neal/Baelfire and Hook are really the only characters for which I continued harboring loyalty to the show. And didn't we just end a season with Neal being "dead"? Oh yeah, season two and the Neverland portal.
When people start dying and not staying dead (especially villains) there begins to be a loss of the sense of "consequence". And then throw on top of that characters coming back and being exactly the same? What did their death/demise even mean?
I would love to have a sincere conversation with someone on the static/dynamic status of these OUaT characters. How many have actually undergone deep, personal changes because of the experiences they've been through? How many have approached life differently? I am not the same person after experiencing high school let alone a reality bending, life altering journey through what can only be described as "space and time" and yet Regina continues to stubbornly fight for the demise of anyone who has ever given her a sideways glance, Gold continues to stab everyone in the back for self-serving purposes, Mary-Margaret continues to act like forgiving means forgetting means don't-exercise-caution-ever, Henry continues to blindly waddle towards the nearest opportunity to be a hero, Emma continues to stare wide-eyed in manufactured horror when anyone *gasp* betrays her.

Seriously, which emotion is this? Happy? Sad? Surprised? Disappointed? Confused? Murderous?
All of the above. 
Also note Henry's dead eyes.
The beauty of what I just described and what used to draw me to the show was indeed the fact that each character had their symbolic meaning. Their own unique representation of human emotion. Emma; loyalty. Henry; hope. Snow; faith. Gold; greed. Regina; vengeance. David; ....? But that can only carry a story so far. It has to mean something and so far it doesn't. It's just a pretty little kaleidoscope of characters that run around in chaos and never accomplish anything but more chaos.

Villainous Motivations:
Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin- Daddy issues, my kid won't love me, social status. Ooh magic pretty.
Regina/Evil Queen- Dead Daddy and woah Mommy issues, my kid won't love me. Ooh magic pretty.
Peter Pan/Rumpel Sr.- My kid won't love me, mid-life crisis/social status. Ooh magic pretty.
Cora- Daddy issues, my kid won't love me, social status. Ooh magic pretty.
That one bald guy working for Pan that one time- Daddy issues. Ooh magic DESTROY.
Wicked Witch- Mommy issues. Ooh magic pretty. (Wikipedia doesn't reveal much on her, so I admit that she's only a half-example since I can't be sure I'm not missing something important.)
Hook- I actually love Hook and he's the only remotely complex villain so far. And no, Regina's bipolar disorder does not count as "character complexity". It's just plot-convenient and monotonous.

Familial ties are very important plot motivations. But it can't be the one conflict cause for an entire show. Life here on earth is fraught with much more trouble than "Who's your daddy and how strained is that relationship?" (no but srsly, who is your daddy cuz you're probably either my grandpa or my step son.) Jobs, hobbies, time management, friendships beyond the ties of family (when was the last time Emma or Snow and Ruby just hung out and had coffee?), dreams and aspirations, it's gotten to the point where I lack any emotional connection with the characters achieving their goals because it's always the same goal and it never works out.
I understand that it's meant to be a dramatic show, and it darn well is, but the drama is surprisingly shallow for such a deep topic as family and tragically one-dimensional.
I made it through nine seasons of Dean and Sam Winchester beating around the same old bush because I believed their brotherhood. And they changed because of their experiences. Sam hardened and bristled up, Dean began to see the gray in between the stark black and white of morality. They took on a bit of each other.
Because that's what PEOPLE DO. (bonus points for recognizing that reference)
Once Upon a Time has become that thing I binge attention on when I'm bored and looking for something to giggle tabloids.
And it makes me sad.
Cuz I really wanted to love it.

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