My epic blog post Why Grimm is better than OUaT
Tonight I have taken up the task of making a case for the NBC t.v. series Grimm over and against Once Upon a Time. I will have to defer to Chad and his argument for Fables. While the Pilot does sound like a rip-off from Fables, reformed-Werewolf helping to find kidnapped Red Riding hood(s), that was not what the whole season was about.
Did you notice something about Amanda Mac’s post? She only discussed the ANTAGONISTS for her case in favor of OUaT. I chuckled after noticing, but yes, the reason I do watch OUaT was for the antagonists, Mr. Gold and Mayor Regina. Their stories are the most compelling and heart-breaking. Snow/ Mary Margaret has to be the least sympathetic heroine ever written (right up there with Alicia Silverstone’s BatGirly in Batman and Robin). Sheriff Swann as her sidekick of sorts reminds me more of a Clark Kent from Smallville during the seasons 6-8, boring and just bland. The two actors who stood out and actually recently earned nods as cast regulars, Meghan Ory/Ruby and Emilie De Ravin/Belle. Preferably, Ruby should get more lines than, “Oh, look, over there!” or “Um, um.” Given the difference in genres between Grimm and OUaT, OUaT sought to appeal to “girl power” since it was more a drama/fantasy. Thus, the reason why relationships (father/son, mother/son, lover/lover) were so essential to pushing the narratives each week.
OUaT unfortunately really did not have a culturally diverse cast (I read that that’s changing in season 2) but that wouldn’t be my ONE big critique. My larger criticism of OUaT is that everything in Once Upon A Time felt like a metaphor for marriage and weddings. For example, the fairies got their fairy dust from where? Diamonds! Of course diamonds that overworked dwarves (proletariat) mined for day and night. OUaT felt like ABC wanted to replace the now (thank God!) cancelled Desperate Housewives, with a more fairy-tale version of DH. You spin the Disney fairytale movies into Grey’s Anatomy/Desperate Housewives mix, with a little police drama on the side, and you get OUaT. Girl power? More like opiate for the oogling masses.
Grimm on the other hand is a part of the horror/fantasy genre of television, which I thoroughly enjoy. I have made my utter dislike for procedurals and cop drama shows (Law and Order, Criminal Minds, etc.) but Grimm because it is a horror/fantasy is a lone exception. Like OUaT, Grimm relies on the strength of the narrative each week rather than a strong protagonist. It was a surprise success for NBC in large part due to its procedural format. Did I mention Amanda Mac’s epic FAIL prediction that Grimm would be cancelled; in fact, it was renewed more than a month at least than OUAT? Grimm is a rarity for the horror genre; its culturally diverse cast in contrast to horror shows that have rather bad records when it comes to racial inclusion was a plus and a pleasant surprise. Next season, Grimm is shoring up its cast with a veteran horror tv genre actor, Mark Pelligrino (one of my favorites) of Supernatural and Being Human (USA) while OUAT seeks a more racially diverse cast with the addition of a Mulan-like story character.
Next, I will turn to comparing two episodes, inspired by the same fairytale, to show the essential differences between OUaT and Grimm. The fourth episode of OUaT “The Price Of Gold” was a re-telling of the Cinderella story with Ashley Boyd a “real-life” citizen in Storybrooke. The driver of the story is Rumplestiltskin who grants Cinderella’s wish to dress really nice so that she may marry the prince. Cinderella owes Rumpy her first born child. Meanwhile, Ashley is struggling to survive in Storybrooke as a pregnant, unwed and single teenager waiting on a man to rescue her, which happens (sort of) in the Valentine’s Day episode,
In stark contrast, the Grimm re-telling of Cinderella (and the difference between it and OUaT’s version) is an excellent peak into the creators’ vision for Grimm as a show. The 21st episode of Grimm Season 1, “Happily Ever Aftermath,” follows the story of Lucinda and Arthur, newlyweds who are on top of the world. Unfortunately, Arthur’s fortune comes from a dad who is involved in a billion dollar ponzi scheme, and it’s up to Lucinda to get the couple back into the black. That involves Lucinda using her powers as a Wesen, a Hell Bat who kills people by making high pitch sounds. Her targets are her stepmother and her step-sisters who also happen to be rich. Greed, it turns out, drives people batt-y! Yes! Cheese-ball puns, for the win! No, in all seriousness, Grimm had a consistent message of economic and social justice throughout the season. In the episode, “Leave It To Beavers,” Nick (our Chosen One-the Grimm) teams up with a group that Grimms historically bullied, the Beavers, to take on a collective of Trolls trying to run the beavers’ construction business into the ground. The Trolls were fighting for a tradition of extorting others, government collaborating with businesses. The armed confrontation between Grimm and the Trolls is an allegory for aggressiveness that lower class must have to survive in an unjust world. Grimm also addressed drug culture, domestic violence, and rape, the latter two prominent in “The Thing With Feathers,” as well as police corruption (Nick’s partner Hank).
Grimm is an allegory of race relations, and the particularity of European identities that go suppressed due to class struggles and race. References to World War I, the “Old Country,” “Royal Families” as well as Nick’s other sidekick, Monroe’s knowledge of languages such as German make obvious Grimm as a racially and culturally aware horror show in a genre where you can expect all the people of color to die first or have insignificant roles. Grimm contains an ontologically superior story to OUaT; OUaT has “true love” as an opiate, while Grimm has politics and social justice. I’ll take justice and love the Other over deceptive definitions of “true love’’ any day of the week.