So, I don’t really watch Once Upon a Time. But I do watch Revenge, and the friend I’ve been watching it with does watch Once Upon a Time, so since it comes on right before I’ve ended up watching the odd episode with her this season.
(general thoughts on Once Upon a Time, and very specific thoughts on a character aspect of the most recent episode, below)
(also, trigger warning for passing mention of rape)
The main reason that I don’t like Once Upon a Time is its insistence on True Love Conquers All OH MY GOD GUYS, and DESTINY, and MUST HAVE FAITH, and all of these tropes are tropes that make me groan and snark and stop watching. Snow and Charming’s relationship is so saccharine it makes me want to puke, I don’t like Jennifer Morrison’s character at all, and the whole mixing of everything from Disney to folklore to classic science fiction drives me maaaaad.
Here’s what I do like, though: I like Regina; I think she’s fascinating. I also like Mr. Gold, which puts me firmly on the side of the bad guys (which completely exasperates my friend). And I like a quartet of kick-ass women who travel together and pass the Bechdel test and generally, well, kick ass, even though I only like half of them as characters.
The half I do like are Aurora and Mulan. And holy crap—the chemistry between those two in last night’s episode . . . we had “I’m not letting you risk yourself!” and “I’m protecting you no matter what” and “We’re trading the compass to get her back I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYBODY ELSE THINKS”—if those two characters were opposite genders there would be no question they’d be making out sometime within the next few episodes. I mean, the air practically crackles when they talk.
I generally hate romance; deeply loyal friendships are my relationship of choice. But I want those two to get together like whoa.
(And to be honest, their relationship doesn’t strike me as a friendship—they don’t interact like friends; they interact like two people who are strongly attracted to each other and are fighting that attraction like hell but will still go beyond reason to protect each other.)
Heck, for a show that annoys the hell out of me with all the romance it insists on cramming in, they could at least pair up the two people I want to see together, right?
I expressed this desire to my friend. Her response? “They’re not going to do that. It’s a family show.”
Okay, I know what she meant; she’s definitely not homophobic and gay rights is one of her three pet political issues. But seriously, we live in a world in which we can have a show that vomits romance and True Love and Kissing Solves Everything Even Dark Magic(tm) all over the screen and when I say I want a certain romance to happen on that show, when I say, “Man I want those two characters to kiss already!”, the response can be . . . “Nope, sorry, it’s a family show“????
I groused about her word choice and pointed out all the boy/girl kissing that happens EVERY EPISODE, and my friend clarified to mean that Once Upon a Time is not the kind of show to “push boundaries,” which, I admit, is what I knew she meant in the first place. But I’m not mad at her, because she’s right. She’s right about our society. A show that considers itself a “family show” does consider a kiss between two people of the same sex as vastly more scandalous than, say, murder via pulling hearts out of people’s chests, or cheating on your significant other, or implied rape, all of which have been shown on Once Upon a Time. Heck, it’s well-documented that movies with gay couples consistently get slapped with higher ratings by the MPAA. A woman kissing another woman? Not in Fairy Tale Land.
Now, maybe Once Upon a Time will surprise me. Even if Mulan and Aurora never kiss, this is a show that stuffs romance into every possible moment, so if they don’t have an agenda against it you’d expect a same-sex couple to come up somewhere, and who knows, maybe one will. I’ll be ecstatic if that happens.
But I’m not holding my breath.
- And oh my God, the DISNEY. WHY SO MUCH DISNEY. It is DISTURBING. WHAT ARE MULAN AND BELLE DOING THERE NEXT WE WILL HAVE POCAHONTAS AND A TALKING LION.↵
- I mean, I do think they’re friends, and I do definitely think that platonic friends can go beyond reason for each other—that’s one of my favorite tropes ever, in fact—but their relationship strikes me as possessive and irrational in a way that is unhealthy in any sort of relationship but is slightly more excusable, and far more interesting, if they’re in love with each other rather than just friends. In other words, I personally like the way they interact much less if it isn’t motivated by a dimension other than friendship.↵
- I think. At least, I’ve seen the first one on the show and I’ve seen people rant about the latter two online, so I think they happened, but I’ve only seen a handful of episodes.↵
- Even fanfiction communities have had to fight against people giving same-sex activities the same “warning” label as things like character death and rape.↵
- Plus we know it won’t happen because there’s the whole, “Aurora’s got a True Love” thing (barf). And my friend also told me that Mulan apparently was also in love with Prince Phillip, which gave me yet another level of WTF, because (1) are you really going to create a love triangle that the woman of color is doomed to lose because we already know that Prince Phillip is with Aurora?, and (2) what happened to Mulan’s own love interest? ALL THE OTHER PRINCESSES HAVE THEIRS, and (3) you do realize that there aren’t nearly enough Asian men cast as romantic leads, right? That this is a problem? And you chose to CUT HIM? Okay, this is a rant for another time. I’m very ranty tonight.↵