I’ve thought about giving up on Once Upon a Time with every misstep the show has taken — and believe me, there have been many. But somehow I’ve continued to watch, past all the plot holes and shark-jumping and yes, terrible CGI. Assuming it’s not actual fairy dust, what is it about ABC’s fairy-tale drama that has me watching every week?
2. It’s mostly for the villains.
As is usually the case with genre shows, the bad guys are far more interesting than the heroes. Regina was kind of a dud throughout the first season — probably because Once Upon a Time couldn’t decide if it wanted to humanize her or not — but Cora and Captain Hook have been exceptional additions to Season 2. (Cora appeared in Season 1, but only in flashbacks.)
3. I mean, Barbara Hershey alone.
She’s absurd and over-the-top, and it’s just the best. Cora is kind of like Hershey’s awful mother character from Black Swan, without any hint of restraint. And unlike so many of the morally ambiguous characters on this show, I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to sympathize with Cora at all. Naturally, that makes her my favorite.
4. Which is not to say Colin O’Donoghue isn’t great, too.
I’m just going to be honest: my interest here is a little more surface-level. (He’s really, really hot.) But eye candy is nice! In fact, it’s a completely legitimate reason to continue watching a show you’re not always that into. Who needs plot when pretty people are parading around in fancy costumes?
5. Hot people abound.
Josh Dallas’s arms. I’m sorry, what was the question?
6. There’s even something for the straight men in the audience!
Not why I’m tuning in, but hey, to each his own.
7. There’s also a lot of delightful awkwardness.
I’m tickled by the idea that this town full of fairy tale characters is currently trying to accept the Evil Queen who trapped them in another dimension. Like, seriously? We’re going to share desserts now? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but I love it, because I can’t get enough of the weirdness. Everyone hates you, girl. Pastry isn’t going to change that.
8. And bizarre family dynamics.
Hey, Emma, you know that teacher you palled around with during the first season? She’s totally your mom! And hot coma dude is your dad. Season 2 of Once Upon a Time has forced these characters to embrace their unconventional families, which is really fun for the audience, if not for them. Imagine being sent to another world and having to hang out with your mom the whole time! Super bummer.
9. Honestly, this show is maybe on drugs.
It’s all over the place and really unsubtle, so I find it best to not think too hard and go along for the ride. I see the faults — some of them drive me nuts — but I try to focus on all the magic and WTF-ery. You will never be able to convince me that Once Upon a Time is a great show, and that’s fine. I’m going to keep watching if only because it’s just crazy enough.
10. It’s campy no matter how serious it tries to be.
One of Once Upon a Time biggest faults is that it doesn’t appreciate how silly all of this is. There are dragged-out Evil Queens and displaced dwarves and a pirate who wears more eyeliner than Adam Lambert, but it’s all a little too sincere. It’s Disney. And while that is a point against the show, it’s another reason to not give up — I can only hope that Once Upon a Time eventually embraces the camp.
11. Plus, I can’t stop watching before Mulan and Sleeping Beauty make out.
It’s going to happen, and I need to be tuned in when it does.