Monday, October 27, 2014
Week of 10/27/2014
“Once” And The Myth Of The Happily Ever After
I don’t know about my readers, but I’ve come to enjoy a little series on ABC called “Once Upon A Time”.
“Once” is basically all of the fairytale characters come to life in a little town called “Storybrook”. Since it’s being produced and aired by Disney, you should expect some of the Disney fairytale characters showing up along with classic fairytale characters Snow White, Captain Hook, Rumpelstiltskin, Robin Hood, and the Seven Dwarves. Currently the town is being visited by the cast of “Frozen”, but previously they were visited by the Wicked Witch from the land of Oz, Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”, and Mulan.
Anyway, what came to my attention was the angst of “The Evil Queen”, Regina. Well, the “former Evil Queen”. She’s changed, right? She’s not supposed to be a villain anymore. She’s supposed to be good now. Oh, and she’s not a “Queen” anymore… which, in the case of Storybrook, means the town mayor.
But she doesn’t “feel” like a hero. Heroes not only win the day, but they also get their “Happily Ever After”. Snow White did. She married Prince Charming. She got to have not one, but two children, and she’s a grandmother without even looking a day older than her daughter! And she’s now the mayor!
Regina, on the other hand, doesn’t have her job. She doesn’t have her “son” (who is really Snow’s grandson). And she doesn’t have the love of her life, namely Robin Hood.
The abbreviated version goes like this: Snow’s daughter, Emma Swan, ends up back in time with Captain Hook. They accidentally prevent her parents from meeting and falling in love, so they had to make things right before they could return to the present. In the process, Emma frees a young woman who was in the dungeon with her who was slated to be executed by Regina (who, back then, was every bit the “Evil Queen”). They come back to the present, with the young woman in tow, only to find that she was really Maid Marian, Robin Hood’s wife and mother of her son. Marian lives again and the two are re-united, leaving Regina out in the cold and not feeling very “good”.
After some well-needed angst over her situation and the unfairness of it all, she doesn’t really blame Emma for what happened. She can’t blame Marian or Robin either. Do you know who she blames? She blames the “Storybook”!
Yes, she blames the “Storybook” for her situation. After all, “the book” says that she’s still the “villain”, and “villains” don’t get a “Happily Ever After”. So now she’s going to go after the people who write “the book” and have it changed so that the “villains” will get their “Happily Ever After”.
Well, I have something to say about that…
First of all, Regina hasn’t “lost” everything. She still has her “son”! Yes, it’s really Emma’s biological son and Snow White’s biological grandson, but they didn’t raise him. Regina did! And he still calls Regina “Mom”! On top of that, he’s willingly on her side and wants to help her get her “Happily Ever After”. That’s not something that a “villain” would have going for them. Or, at least not without some evil curses and some memory wipes being involved. The point is, she still has someone who sees her as a hero, even if she doesn’t feel like one. That, in and of itself, is a huge win for her.
But, more to the point, you know what? The idea of the “Happily Ever After” is really overrated.
What is a “Happily Ever After” anyway? For Regina, that apparently is being with the man she loves, namely Robin Hood. But is that really it? That’s pretty narrow-minded and short-sighted.
Here’s a scary thought for anyone to consider… what if he isn’t Regina’s real “true love”? Snow White had that problem at one point, where Prince Charming ceased to exist and Snow eventually found someone else for a little while. So how does Regina know that this guy is “the one”? Maybe her actual “true love” is still out there and she hasn’t met him yet. Maybe everything that she’s gone through, including “losing” Robin Hood to his wife, was done to lead Regina down the path to meeting her eventual “true love”. Ever consider that?
Now think about this: not everyone in Storybrook are able to get their “Happily Ever After”. Ask “The Mirror” if he’s enjoying his “Happily Ever After”. How about the Seven Dwarves? All they seem to do is work and complain. Some “ending” they get! How about Red Riding Hood? How about the Huntsman? Oh, wait, Regina killed him back when she was a villain. So much for his “Happily Ever After”.
Now think about this… how many people in the real world – in other words, outside of Storybrook and “The Book” – will never have their “Happily Ever After”? How many people live lives that would consider them to be “heroes” or at least “good” only to find that they will never get their “Happily Ever After”? Yours truly is certainly one of those people.
Speaking of those who get their “Happily Ever After”, how about Snow White and Prince Charming? How are their “Ever After” so far? Not so “Happily”, is it?
Well that’s because there’s a simple truth when it comes to “Happily Ever After”.
Let’s get brutally honest here… there is a reason why “Happily Ever After” is there at the end of the story, and that is because there is no more story to tell after that. Period. The End.
In fact the very last words after “Happily Ever After” are quite literally “The End”. The. End. Period. As in nothing more to tell. As in there is nothing left to have happen. The story is done, the adventures are finished with, and there is nothing more to see or do with them.
That’s why Snow and Charming aren’t really experiencing their “Happily Ever After”; because there are still plenty of stories left for them to experience.
This is the key reason why relationships are doomed in soap operas. If the relationship isn’t illicit or secretive, if it isn’t complicated by a rival or a stalker or manipulative parents, if it isn’t stained by abuse or addiction or simple stress, if it isn’t anything other than happy and content, then the couple is irrelevant. They’re pushed aside or out of the scene altogether. There are no happy couples in soap operas unless they’re old supporting characters that show up only for holidays and special occasions so they can give some corny sage advice or remember some detail from way back when.
Do you get it yet, Regina? “Happily Ever After” is the kiss of death for you!
So don’t yearn for something you don’t really want! Learn what it is to be the hero of the story and continue the adventures. Earn the respect of the town, from all of the people that still consider you to be the villain. Actually become the well-loved and well-respected leader of Storybrook you once saw yourself as.
And then you will have really re-written “The Book”.