Season Air Date:
- Season 1: October 23rd 2011 – May 13th 2012
- Season 2: September 30th 2012 – May 12th 2013
- Season 3: September 29th 2013 – May 11th 2014
- Season 4: September 28th 2014 – May 10th 2015
- Season 5: September 27th 2015 – May 15th 2016
- Season 6: September 25th 2016 – May 14th 2017
- Season 7: October 6th 2017 – May 18th 2018
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Once Upon A Time (Season 1-7)
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Lee Arenberg, Emilie De Ravin, Robert Carlyle, Sean Maguire, Michael Raymond-James, Rebecca Mader, Andrew J West, Dania Ramirez, Alison Fernandez, Meghan Ory, Eion Bailey, Raphael Sbarge
I don’t know if there’s a saying or a phrase or anything like that out there, but I reckon if there’s a TV show that goes on for eternity (say more than 10 seasons), the show would probably be quite influential in one’s life. Think about it. You’re watching a show for hours on end, for seasons on end- you’ve literally grown up with the show, it’s all you can remember. When you’re sad, you turn to the show for comfort. When you’re happy, you turn to the show as an outlet of expressing joy. When you’re confused, and your world is upside down, you turn to the show for providing answers and guidance. And of course, most of all, you look to the show for examples of how to interact with the people in your life, because we all know that TV parents and TV siblings are all so ‘perfect’ and much preferable to the loved ones in the real world, right?
I myself do not watch much TV. I haven’t for around 4 years while I have been working at the café. It’s not that I thought that most shows weren’t interesting, it’s just that working at the café has given me time constraints. I would have to prioritise what I would like to watch, and even then, I’d fall behind. So ever since starting the cafe I have only been keeping up with the Arrowverse shows on CW, as well as a few other scripted programs- and prior to 2014 I think you could classify me as someone who would watch, or would start watching, any TV show that moves (except you wouldn’t catch me watching all of the laugh track comedies, or the CSI and NCIS franchises). Yet throughout this whole time, I reckon there was only one TV show that was constant, one TV show that I caught up with week to week, and one TV show that has stuck with me all this time during the times that I felt like life wasn’t going anywhere.
Sure, as I Christian I would turn to God and pray for guidance in my future, or if I was feeling like work wasn’t making a difference. Yet you know how God can speak through anything He chooses to- a fact I dug into in great detail in my Message Mondays’ blog from last year? Well I would say that for all these years, for the past 7; Once Upon A Time is THE SHOW that I think I’ve learnt the most from, and the show that encompasses quite a lot of relevant life lessons that are probably needed in today’s current society. It’s a show that I can watch straight up again and not be bored (hopefully- I haven’t tried it yet!), and it’s also a show that I reckon is so universal, that whatever you’re facing, I reckon you would gain some encouragement, help and assistance, or at least some comfort that whatever you’re feeling isn’t exclusive to you. That there is someone else in the world, or a few someone else’s that are going through what you are; and that should make life living a bit easier.
If I were to review every single season of Once Upon A Time– it’d take forever (you can read our reviews of OUAT season 4A here, and our recap of seasons 1-3 here!). Maybe not forever, but more likely about a week non-stop. It’d probably be around 10 000 words long, or even longer, and nobody would read it. Right now, with the show off the air for already 4 months, a recap of every episode is rather unnecessary. I mean I could, but what would be the purpose? Yet for those of you who have been living under a rock (and I mean that in the kindest way possible), let me quickly give you a synopsis of what the show is about. You could read all about the show on Wikipedia or look through spoilers and other in depth reviews at SpoilerTV or TVLine (with both of these sites being more professional at TV show reviews/opinion pieces than mine!), and you can indeed do all of that (I’m certainly not stopping you); but let me first say that if you’re a fan of fantasy and fairytales and plenty of family drama then this show is for you.
Once Upon A Time is centred around Emma Sawn (Jennifer Morrison) and her son Henry’s (Jared S. Gilmore) belief that she’s the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), thus resulting in Emma travelling to Storybrooke Maine in order to break the curse that The Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) placed on the townspeople, thus restoring balance to the land and reuniting all of townspeople together who have been separated, thus bringing back the happy endings. In essence that was what the plot was for the first season, and since the curse was broken in the season 1 finale, subsequent seasons involved all of the fairytale characters reconciling their cursed selves with their fairytale true versions of themselves, as well as Regina trying to be a better mother to Henry, and realising that despite everything one has done in the past, there can be capacity to change, should they choose to accept that and actually try to be the best version of themselves that they could possibly be.
And while I could go on and on about how the show introduced so many characters and also a twist on their origins; I reckon the main takeaway of this show is that no one is perfect, that everyone makes mistakes, that no one is beyond forgiveness and redemption, and that everyone, and I mean everyone deserves a second chance. But if you really want to know some of the big twists of the entire series- here are some of the ones that were jaw dropping, at least to me: Peter Pan is Rumplestilskin’s father and a main villain. Red Riding Hood is also the wolf. Captain Hook isn’t a bad person, and is a hero at best, and maybe a self-centred jackass at worst. Henry’s father is actually Rumple’s son. Rumple doubles up as The Beast and is Belle’s true love. Maleficent’s daughter was transported to the land without magic and left alone due to the actions of Snow White and Prince Charming. Regina’s soulmate is Robin Hood. Regina’s much more wicked sister Zelena travelled back in time, killed Marian, impersonated her, travelled back in time to woo Robin, and then had a child with him. Zelena’s soulmate was Hades, whom she was forced to kill as he was trying to kill Regina. Both Emma and Captain Hook became the Dark One for a while in order to save Rumpelstiltskin from himself. Rumpelstiltskin was actually supposed to be the Saviour, had it not been for his mother The Black Fairy and her interference thinking that he would be killed by a dark hooded figure in the far future. And Belle died in season 7 from old age, with the season long arc of Rumple trying to find a way to be with her in the end, anchoring the season- and in the end he SPOILER succeeded. With all of those twists maybe too far-fetched, and some of them not even lining up with the various jumping across of different timelines and worlds etc; some critics may think that Once Upon A Time is a big mess of a show with the showrunners forgetting their own rules and making things up as they go along. However, despite some glaring inconsistences in the show (especially with years and timelines!), one thing is for certain. Family is first and foremost at the centre of this heartfelt and impacting drama, as is the fact that true love is the best form of love there is- be it romantic, platonic or familial.
Once Upon A Time didn’t win any Emmys, nor were recognised by any major critics for other awards. But I reckon that it didn’t have to. The fact that the show was on the air for 7 seasons is more than enough reason for all of us to check out the show and see what the fuss is about. I mean on the surface it’s about fairy tales, and fantasy- and would it really be grounded in reality? Can a show like this really teach us how to live life to the full and make the best decisions we can at a certain moment in time? Well I reckon stripped away from all of the grandiose, superfluous and at times unnecessary extra material about linking one fairy tale character to another by blood for shock value; what we end up with are a bunch of people trying to make it through life, who are just like you and me, who have their own sets of problems, and are aching to be known and loved as well. Characters that are extremely flawed, act in the heat of the moment, and some who try to do the right thing despite their own villainous nature, and others who slip up and make stupid mistakes. But all of them deserving of forgiveness. Now there’s a term we all could need, particularly when some of us hold unnecessary grudges over petty issues. I reckon if the entire Charming-Jones-Mills-Stilskin clan all sat down at a table and we analysed all of their decisions, regardless if it were for the greater good; then none of them deserved second chances and forgiveness
Yet in fact, I reckon Once Upon A Time was, and still is like a beacon of hope, especially in these uncertain political times, as we see a show imparting to us the value of treating everyone equally and with respect, and not judging anybody lest we ourselves would be judged as well. And even though the show ended maybe a couple of seasons too soon, the fact still stands. That I believe that OUAT will be, for a very long time at least, THE show that helps people to forgive. The show that helps families reunite. And the show that helps us all as humans to rise above our family name or above expectations or above the rumours about ourselves and people like us, to say that I am more than my past, I am more than the sum of my mistakes, that I’m more than the choices that I have made, that who I am is who I can control right now, and who I’ve been doesn’t define me. You know how we as Christians preach about forgiveness and giving people second chances? How ironic is it that a show like Once Upon A Time– definitely not Christian in nature and probably not even including any Christians in the cast or crew (I’m not certain, so I can’t say this with confidence!), alludes to the very nature of forgiving and acceptance despite wrongs and failures, that Christians continually speak about, but still aren’t that very good at? Strange isn’t it, what God chooses to speak through.
I think I’ve bored all of you enough already speaking about my favourite TV show, and writing a I’ve-just-realised-it’s-now-a-massive-review/opinion piece of sorts. So I’ll leave you with this. This week upcoming, is premiere week and it’s time for Jon and myself to start writing regular TV reviews again after a hiatus. While we would normally launch into a travelogue, what we want to do now is write about how a certain show has impacted us in our lives. For Once Upon A Time, the characters that I have grown fond of over the past few years, have taught me that family is important most of all, and that we can all accomplish anything if we put our minds to it- and that has helped me especially when Mum broke her foot earlier this year. You guys may glean something very different from the show, and that’s ok. But I reckon that if we continue to consumer TV without even thinking about and dwelling upon the issues brought forward in these episodes, then that’s very problematic. So stay tuned guys, TV reviews will be back, but will look very different. And that is a good thing, rest assured!
Did season 1-7 of Once Upon A Time leave a lasting impression on you? Did any themes in the episodes speak to you, and which was it? What elements of the show did you always look forward to week to week? Which twist was the most surprising- one I listed or something else? Do you think the show deserves a reboot or revival in around 20 or 30 years’ time?
Which TV show will you be tuning into in the coming weeks and months? Let us know in the comments; and be sure to be on the lookout for reviews for Take Two, Carter, Manifest, A Million Little Things, God Friended Me, Supergirl, Legends Of Tomorrow, The Good Place, Cobra Kai, Impulse, Maniac and The Good Cop in the upcoming months!
RIYL: Grimm, Arrow, Supernatural, Revenge, Merlin
Rating: 4.5/5 (based on 7 seasons aka 155 episodes)
Once Upon A Time aired every Sunday at 8/7c on ABC. You can now buy the DVD/Blu Ray of the whole series at digital and physical retailers everywhere!